Some college students spend time worrying about what they should wear out to the frat this weekend, what they should eat tomorrow in the dining hall, and how they're ever going to pass their upcoming orgo exam. However, there are a few college students who spend their time thinking nonstop about the nonprofits they've started instead. The following are just a few organizations started by college students who have managed to balance their schoolwork along with the philanthropic endeavors they've initiated.
Patient 9 Foundation was created by Cole Winarick, a current freshman at the University of Delaware, in 2010. The organization is dedicated to raising funds as well as raising awareness for those who live with melanoma and related diseases by working with the Delaware Community Foundation. Cole was inspired to start the nonprofit by his father's battle with skin cancer. Currently there is no cure for melanoma, and Cole found that there is very little funding available for melanoma research.
"Luckily, we found a new experimental clinical trial treatment being conducted at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston," Cole says. "My father was accepted into the trial, and he agreed to participate in it. He was the ninth patient in his phase of the clinical trial, hence the 'Patient 9 Foundation.'"
Cole's first goal is to raise $250,000 through fundraisers and donations. "I plan on donating this money to help fund a melanoma research grant so that my father's experimental treatment may have a higher remission and/or cure rate and altogether save lives," Cole says. "For me, the sky is the limit, and I will not stop until I reach my goal!"
2. COS Nigeria
The Computer Outreach School of Nigeria was founded by Olatunde Olatunji, Zach Correa, and Keefer Taylor, all students graduating from the University of Richmond in 2013. The organization is partnered with the Ilesa Grammar School in Illesa, Nigeria, and their mission is to teach Nigerian students how to utilize computer resources by bringing them into contact with teachers who are technologically literate.
"The president, Olatunde, is from Nigeria, and would always talk about how lucky he was to come to the United States because of his parents," says Andrew Valenski, a sophomore at UR and the nonprofit's Director of Development. "We'd see pictures of the place where he grew up and it was unlike anything we'd ever seen. He always wanted to make a school, but didn't know what about or how." The Board of Directors, which consists of all of the aforementioned students as well as the Director of Fundraising (UR sophomore Matthew Groff), realized that something that united all of them was computers, since all of their studies are fundamentally rooted in technological literacy. So they decided that computer literacy what they wanted to teach the children of this impoverished area in Nigeria.
Their goal is to raise $21,000 in order to obtain computers, hardware, software, and school supplies, and all the funds are being raised through donations on the organization's website. "We're all in this for the same reason," Andrew says. "We just want to make a positive difference in these kids' lives."
Ben Simon, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, began this nonprofit with the intention to collect unused food from campus dining halls to feed the homeless by donating to shelters within the community. "Huge amounts of leftover food from campus dining halls and sports events were being thrown away," Ben says. "At the same time, one in eight people in the DC area were struggling with hunger, not to mention that the food from the UMD dining halls was sitting in landfills, contributing to global warming."
It works like this: each night when the campus dining hall closes, student volunteers are there waiting. Instead of throwing out their leftovers, the college's dining services donate the leftover food to the Food Recovery Network. They pack up the food and take it to nearby shelters or food banks, where it is distributed to the hungry people in the community.
"In the first weeks, students were recovering 150-200 pounds of food a day," Ben says. "By the time the 2011-12 year was over, the group had donated 30,000 meals to DC-area shelters."
The Food Recovery Network has won two social entrepreneurship contests in addition to outside seed money. It is now registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and every dollar donated on their website generates 10 meals for those in need.
Since the organization's initiation in September 2011, they have gone on to collect from private restaurants as well, collecting over 70,000 meals in the time since. It has now expanded to schools in other states: The University of Michigan, RISD, UT-Austin, UC-Berkeley, Brown, and several Claremont schools have FRN chapters.
This nonprofit was started by Gabriel Whaley, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He founded this charity soccer camp, Kicking4Hunger, in 2006 with a goal to provide a fun and educational soccer experience free of charge, while simultaneously collecting food to feed the hungry in the community. Donors offer gifts in the form of food donations rather than monetary donations.
“I grew up in a household that could not afford to send me to a high dollar soccer camp over the summer, and at an early age I was able to recognize that this money was put away towards other important necessities,” Gabriel says. “I figured I would take the matter into my own hands, do my part to solve the hunger and soccer problem in my hometown, and at the same time do something I love: teaching soccer to children.”
These soccer camps are grounded in the belief that a child's potential should not be hindered by money. For this reason, any child is able to attend a Kicking4Hunger camp, and instead of bringing any kind of admission or registration fee, they are encouraged to bring a canned good donation in for each day that they attend camp. The food is then sent to aid local food banks. Gabriel dreams that by 2014 they will start movements in other states, and that by 2016, Kicking4Hunger will be an international (or even global!) organization.
“My best advice [for people who want to start a nonprofit] is to make sure you are doing it because you love it, not because you want to pad your resume or simply create a nonprofit for the sake of creating a nonprofit,” Gabriel says. “If there is a truly demonstrated need and no clear solution, pursue it with everything you have! And most importantly, surround yourself with good people whom you can trust—Kicking4Hunger would be nothing without the brilliant and marvelous people working in the background.”
Somewhere between studying, exercising, and making friends, the founders of these philanthropic organizations found the time and motivation to make a difference. We hope their incredible contributions to their community inspire you to get involved. Whether you simply donate old clothing, get involved in an environmental organization, or go on to work at a nonprofit after graduation, you can make a difference, too!
Know another nonprofit started by college students that we didn’t list? Let us know in the comments!