By Charlotte Kanner

Two organizations secured first place in the University of Maryland’s annual Do Good Challenge Tuesday night at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

The App Dev Club and The 2nd LT Richard W. Collins III Foundation secured a share of the $20,000 prize in a competition where university community members dedicate the whole year to advocating, researching and crafting solutions to address pressing issues.

The organizations were among six finalists who pitched their projects and ventures to a panel of expert judges. The App Dev Club won first place in the project track and The 2nd LT Richard W. Collins III Foundation secured first place in the venture track.

The project track category consists of groups that maximize impact on an existing organization through fundraising, volunteering and campaigning, according to Do Good Institute associate director Sara Gallagher. The venture track category includes teams of student-created social enterprises and nonprofit organizations focused on creating a social impact, Gallagher said.

“If we take time, tools and resources to invest in the capable, bright young minds in our community, we will transform our lives,” Armani McMillan — a university alum, talent acquisition director at Employ Prince George’s Inc. and IMPACTdmv Inc.’s executive director — said at Tuesday’s event.

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The finalists for the project track were App Dev Club, Dare to Dream and Public Health Beyond Borders.

Junior computer science major Matthewos Gashaw and junior computer science major Samai Patel founded this university’s App Dev Club organization in 2023. The group of more than 350 students at this university is committed to bridging the gap between academics and software development, according to the public policy school’s website.

“We thought it was very challenging for our peers to get software engineering industry experience without having an internship prior, this especially being the case in those of underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds,” Gashaw said.

The club strives to provide students with the technology needed to make their software development projects a reality, Patel said.

The other finalists in the projects track were Dare to Dream and Public Health Beyond Borders.

Dare to Dream aims to help underrepresented communities start businesses and provides entrepreneurial education to children ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade and people ages 18 through 27.

Public Health Beyond Borders works to reduce health disparities and educate people around the world about healthy practices. The group creates culturally sensitive interventions and workshops in collaboration with community members in five different places — Prince George’s County, Peru, Sierra Leone, India and Kenya.

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The venture-track teams finalists were The 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III Foundation, Game Changers and True Community.

A white student at this university murdered Lt. Richard Collins III, a Black student from Bowie State University, at a bus stop in front of Annapolis Hall in 2017. Dawn Collins, Richard Collins III’s mother, co-founded the organization in her son’s honor in 2018 to empower Americans working toward a “hate-free, more just society for all,” according to the foundation’s website.

The foundation also aims to educate future U.S. Army officers with “the power of empathy, understanding and connection,” to work towards a hate-free society through mentorship programs and strategic partnerships, according to Cadet Command Sergeant Major Anna Wietrecki.

“To be an effective leader and a great officer, you must understand your soldiers,”Wietrecki, a senior criminology and criminal justice major, said.

Game Changers New York is a nonprofit organization that strives to increase academic success, mental health and personal connections among underprivileged children through sports equipment donations.

True Community, the other competing group, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life-saving skills in marginalized communities.

Judges voted on a winner for the project and venture teams to conclude the event.

“I also hope we do not lose sight of the courage and resilience that has led these teams to be here on stage,” judge and nonprofit founder Cedric Nwafor said. “You could have given up at any point, but [you] are here today.”