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UMD Students to Compete to 'Do Good' at UMD April 10

March 28, 2013

Jennifer Lynn Talhelm 301-405-4390

Actress Fran Drescher, Olympian Carl Lewis and Morgan Stanley’s Melanie Schnoll Begun to be Do Good Challenge Celebrity Judges

Do Good ChallengeCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland is proud to announce that philanthropists – acclaimed television star Fran Drescher and nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis – will headline an “American Idol”-style celebrity panel of judges for the final round of the Do Good Challenge on the College Park campus, April 10.  They will be joined by Melanie Schnoll Begun, managing director and head of philanthropy management at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, the lead sponsor of the Challenge.

The second-annual competition is run by the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the UMD School of Public Policy.  It’s a unique part of a new effort in higher education to encourage students to make a difference locally or around the globe. 

Student contestants had between Feb. 4 and March 24 to “do good” for a cause or charity by advocating, raising money, volunteering, or developing a creative new solution to a social problem.  The student teams are now in the process of being pared down to five finalists.  On April 10, those teams will pitch their work to the celebrity judge panel and a live audience, which will vote for the winner via text message.  This year’s winners will receive $5,000 for their cause, and all the finalists will receive cash prizes. 

Fran DrescherDrescher, an award-winning actress (TV’s “The Nanny” and “Happily Divorced”), cancer survivor and leading public health advocate, officially kicked off the competition with a video recorded from New York City.

The Do Good Challenge is “a terrific opportunity for you to take your passion and turn it into something that’s personal to you and can make a difference….,” she says in the video.  “It’s really exciting that I got to take what I’m passionate about and become a do-gooder … I hope you do too!”

Says Professor Robert T. Grimm, Jr., Director of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership: “The Do Good Challenge has rapidly become one of the important – and really fun – ways we’re creating a new culture of philanthropy on campus.  The competition is part of making philanthropy a pillar of the Maryland experience.  No other university includes Maryland's extensive and innovative hands-on philanthropic experiences.”

Grimm says that while the celebrity judges add excitement and intensity to the contest, they’re also important role models for the students.    

“Our judges demonstrate that philanthropy can be both fun and serious business.  All three of them are a driving force for innovative and high-impact efforts that literally change lives,” Grimm says.  

After surviving uterine cancer, Drescher decided “to turn my pain into purpose and ensure no woman dies because of a late stage cancer diagnosis.”  In 2007, she started the Cancer Schmancer Movement to promote cancer prevention and awareness.  She was instrumental in getting the United States’ first Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act passed into law, and was appointed to the distinguished position of Special Envoy for Women’s Health Issues by the U.S. State Department.

Carl LewisLewis, a track-and-field star who has competed in four Olympic games and won nine gold medals, was voted “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee and named Sports Illustrated “Olympian of the Century.”  In his retirement from active competition, Lewis has used his profile and become active in philanthropic work, founding “The Carl Lewis Foundation,” which serves as an umbrella for the many charities that Lewis supports including the “Best Buddies” organization, The Wendy Marx Foundation (for organ donor awareness), and many youth fitness groups. 

Melanie Schnoll BegunAt Morgan Stanley, Schnoll Begun serves as a philanthropic counselor to families, foundations, family offices and nonprofits wishing to give back to their communities.  She is also a nonprofit leader herself, serving as board president of the New York City chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and on the advisory boards of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center and Grameen America, a non-profit microfinance organization whose mission is to help entrepreneurial individuals, especially women, build credit and defeat poverty.

“Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management is proud to be the lead sponsor of the Do Good Challenge.  The mission of the competition – to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of young people and develop future citizens and leaders committed to improving our world – is one Morgan Stanley believes will help drive meaningful change and innovative ideas,” Schnoll Begun says.  “Personally, I’m thrilled to join the panel of judges and be a part of this fun and novel event.  I can’t wait to see how Terps do good!”

Last year with actor Kevin Bacon as the lead celebrity for the Challenge, student teams tackled issues from hunger to breast cancer awareness.  Last year’s winning team, Food Recovery Network, which collects and delivers unsold food from campus cafeterias and sporting events to area shelters, has since become a nonprofit, cumulatively recovered over 130,000 pounds of food for shelters, and expanded to 17 other college campuses across the country.

Grimm concludes, “The Do Good Challenge isn’t just about winning a prize – it’s about arousing a passion for doing good.  The potential is enormous – just look at what Food Recovery Network has been able to accomplish in the last year.  I expect great things from this year’s teams!”

Along with Morgan Stanley’s lead sponsorship, other key sponsors and partners of the Challenge include the UMD Colonnade Society and the Center for Social Value Creation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.