CSM students win $1,500 grant for Farming 4 Hunger
Second Social Entrepreneurship Challenge pairs class with organizations
The Benedict-based nonprofit Farming 4 Hunger has received a $1,500 award, thanks to the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of two College of Southern Maryland students.
Kaelyn Ching of Mechanicsville and Jordan Johnson of Waldorf were the first-place winners of CSM’s Second Annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, held Thursday, for the development of a youth outreach program, beating out proposals by five other teams.
“They really took on the role of working with Farming 4 Hunger and started going to the farm,” said Thomas Luginbill, director of CSM’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute.
Coming in second place were Jeremy Forris, Caryn Fossile and Jordon Gandee, for their proposal for Southern Maryland Community Resources, a Solomons-based nonprofit organization that works to provide inclusive opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities in St. Mary’s County. For second place, the team won a $500 grant for SMCR.
The prize grants were paid for by the Neilom Foundation, which sponsored the event, along with the Center for Engineering Concepts Development at the University of Maryland College Park. The Neilom Foundation was founded by Professor Davinder Anand.
“They actually sponsored this entire
class; they paid for tuition, they paid for fees, and they donated the prize money,” Luginbill said.
Last year, CSM Professor Mary Beth Klinger worked with the Neilom Foundation to develop an entrepreneurship challenge for business administration students.
“Dr. Anand really liked what was going on, and said, ‘I want to do this again,’” Luginbill said.
That led to the development of a semester-long class in social entrepreneurship, taught this year by Luginbill.
Students in the social entrepreneurship class divided into teams of two or three and worked with local nonprofits and socially invested businesses which had volunteered to participate in the class, Luginbill said.
“Every organization that is a part of this class has a social mission, and that is to do good in the community,” Luginbill said.
The students spent the semester learning about the organization they were working with and developing a funding proposal.
“I threw them [the students] at the organizations, and told them, ‘Start figuring out what’s good, start figuring out what’s bad, and see if there’s anything you can do to help them. Moreso, see if there’s anything you can do to help them grow,’” Luginbill said.
For their final project in the class, the students pitched their proposals to a panel of five judges, including faculty from CSM and the University of Maryland.
Proposals were judged on a 50-point scale based on five categories: defining the problem, the solution to the problem, impact of the solution suggested, feasibility of implementation and overall presentation, Luginbill said.
Farming 4 Hunger grows vegetables to be donated to local food banks with work-release and recently released inmates comprising part of their workforce. The farm also does community and school outreach programs with the goal of educating the public about drug addiction and preventing recidivism by helping former inmates form connections to the community.
Johnson said she and Ching visited Farming 4 Hunger weekly, and got to know the inmates and others who worked on the farm.
“We got everything from our experiences there, how we feel it’s impacted the community, and we feel it’s beneficial,” Johnson said. “It’s one thing to work with your nonprofit, it’s another thing to be passionate about it. I really believe in their cause, so that actually helped us in how we made our presentation.”
Ching said she was fairly confident in their presentation, but the other presentations made her nervous.
“We knew we had a lot of good competition, so I was probably more nervous afterwards than I was going up and presenting,” Ching said.
Bernie Fowler Jr., founder of Farming 4 Hunger, said the two students put in a lot of hard work and dedication.
“They bring some great assistance, and some really great ideas,” Fowler said. “I’m really excited, even more, with the presentation and the class ending, with their engagement, that they want to continue to work with our program afterward and engage with our nonprofit during the summer.”
Other organizations participating were Circle of Angels Initiative, a Friendship-based organization to eliminated poverty and reduce risky behaviors; Digitouch, a Hollywood nonprofit technology firm working to develop prosthetic fingers for amputees with a focus on veterans; Kids Into Discovering Science, an Accokeek nonprofit focused on science and technology for youth, with a particular emphasis on building personal submarines to enter the International Submarine Races; and VConnections, a White Plains nonprofit group connecting veterans in Southern Maryland with resources.
Two of the students have been hired by the organizations they were working with, Luginbill said.
Luginbill said the decision was a difficult one for the judges, and all the presentations were excellent.
“These students have gone way out of their way on all of these projects,” Luginbill said.
CSM President Brad Gottfried commended all of the students for their work.
“It’s the students that make our college special,” Gottfried said. “I loved the teamwork the you could see; I loved the critical thinking and the passion.”
In front from left, Jermey Forris, Caryn Fossile and Jordon Gandee, second place winners for Southern Maryland Community Resources, and Jordan Johnson and Kaelyn Ching, first place winners for Farming 4 Hunger, along with, in back from left, College of Southern Maryland President Bradley Gottfried, Dylan Hazelwood, assistant director of the Center for Engineering Concepts Development at the University of Maryland College Park, Davindeer Anand, CECD director and founder of the Neilsom Foundation, and CSM professor Thomas Luginbill, at the second annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Thursday.
Judges including, from left, College of Southern Maryland professor Bernice Brezina, CSM community relations coordinator Larisa Pfeiffer, Dylan Hazelwood, assistant director for the Center for Engineering Concepts Development at the University of Maryland College Park, and CSM vice president of academic affairs Eileen Abel tally scores during the second annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge Thursday evening.
Jordan Johnson of Waldorf makes the case to judges for Farming 4 Hunger during the second annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge at the College of Southern Maryland Thursday evening.
Kaelyn Ching of Mechanicsville pitches an outreach program for Farming 4 Hunger to judges during the Second Annual Social Entrepreneurship Challenge at the College of Southern Maryland Thursday evening.