Underclassmen Giving Campaign raises over $8000

Donations collected will go towards funding PSC Expedition Grants for two student projects

The Undergraduate Giving Campaign (UGC) ended on Nov. 1, raising a total of $8674.82. The UGC collects donations from freshmen, sophomores, and juniors for one week per semester to fund Expedition Grants from MIT’s Public Service Center, which support undergraduate public service projects abroad.

This year, 971 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors donated a total of $4337.41. All of the donations were matched by alumnus Joe Levitch ’69, bringing to total to $8674.82. This is an increase from last year’s total, $7932.

During UGC Week, four candidates competed for Expedition Grants, showcasing their plans for large-scale community service projects. Candidates and representatives from the UGC were set up in Lobby 10 starting on Oct. 28 to raise awareness and collect donations. People who donated at the UGC booth received a pin with their year of graduation on it, as well as an opportunity to cast their votes for which two candidates should receive Expedition Grants from the Public Service Center of up to $3000 each. The grants contribute to the costs of traveling and living expenses associated with the projects.

The voting component of the UGC was introduced last year. “Allowing students to vote on which project they would like to see get funded has certainly encouraged more students to support the campaign,” said Danielle Auriemma, Assistant Director of Student Philanthropy Programs, in an email to The Tech. “The voting piece allows students to have a greater sense of ownership and impact over where their donation goes and which projects get funded.”

The two winners of the Expedition Grants are Yoonjeong “Yooni” Kim ’15 and Keeley D. Erhardt ’17, who plan to implement their projects during IAP 2014.

The goal of Kim’s project is to provide computer literacy training for the staff members of four HIV/AIDS clinics in Togo. Kim plans to travel to Togo to mentor the clinics’ staff and assist with writing the manuals.

Erhardt plans to develop a recycling initiative in the poverty-stricken community of San Ignacio de Velasco, Bolivia. This community contains an overflowing landfill that has resulted in the buildup of waste on the streets. Keeley will travel to Bolivia with two members of MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative to expand the recycling program in Bolivia to include the participation of secondary schools, restaurants, markets, and residential areas. “The end goal of this long-term project is an independent, sustainable, and community-driven recycling program in and around San Ignacio,” said Erhardt in an email to The Tech. “With this grant, San Ignacio de Velasco can work towards cleaning its community and becoming educated on environmental sustainability and health.”