The Underclassmen Giving Campaign (UGC) wrapped up last Friday, with students donating a total of $3966 to fund their classmates’ public service projects. As in past years, an anonymous MIT alumnus will match all student donations, doubling the amount raised to $7932.
929 students made a donation during the five days of the campaign. Total participation in the campaign is down slightly from last year, when 1000 students contributed a total of $4300 dollars before the matching donation.
All money raised will go toward the MIT Public Service Center’s Expedition Grant fund to support undergraduate service projects abroad. In contrast to previous years, in which the campaign was structured as a competition between different classes, no competition was held this year. Contributors to the campaign could vote on which of four undergraduate service projects to fund. The four projects were finalists chosen by the Public Service Center from all grant applications.
The two top vote-getters — which will both be funded — were the projects of Sherry Fu ’14 and Jordan M. Downey ’15. Fu plans to teach a series of computer literacy classes to staff at HIV clinics in Togo (a small country in Africa), while Downey plans to upgrade the kitchen area at a children’s center in Costa Rica. Fu and Downey will each receive an Expedition Grant of up to $3000 from the Public Service Center, and plan to do their projects during IAP this year.
Campaign leaders felt that the class competition format of past years obscured the ultimate purpose of the campaign, which is to fund student service projects. The new format of voting for projects was intended to draw students’ attention back to that goal.
Jordan A. Haines ’15, co-chair of the UGC, was pleased with the changes.
“Showcasing the four candidates this year provided a very tangible reason to give to UGC that may have been glossed over in the past,” Haines said in an email to The Tech.
According to Rosheen B. Kavanagh, associate director of Student Philanthropy Programs, 86 percent of contributors cast a vote, which campaign leaders consider a success.
Kavanagh attributes the slightly lower participation this year to the extra effort required of donors to fill out a voting form after donating. Voting was not required, but only those who donated could vote.
Co-chair Chandler R. Schlupf ’14 was satisfied with the way the campaign’s new format emphasized the service element of the campaign.
“This new method made it very clear we were asking for money for the Public Service Center, and not just asking for general donations to MIT, which in my opinion is a much greater incentive to give,” Schlupf said in an email to The Tech.
According to Haines, UGC leaders implemented the new format in response to a drop in participation between last year and the year before. The changes did not raise participation as hoped. However, Haines and Schulpf are confident that the changes represent a move in the right direction, and believe that participation can be raised next year as students and volunteers become familiar with the new system.
Volunteers for the UGC solicited donations at a Lobby 10 booth throughout last week. The UGC also held a study break for each class, at which students could make donations.
Descriptions of the candidates and their projects can be found on the UGC’s website at https://giving.mit.edu/underclassmen-campaign/.