The University of Maryland School of Public Policy won the inaugural Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge at the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Annual Conference on October 13 for Maryland’s Do Good Campus. The pitch competition, established to honor the memory of Senator George V. Voinovich, encourages champions of creative problem-solving approaches to social innovation in education. The award is sponsored by NASPAA, an international association of nearly 300 universities with schools and programs in public policy and public affairs, and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
The University of Maryland School of Public Policy, NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the LBJ School of Public Affairs University of Texas Austin were selected as the three finalists for the award prior to the conference. Presenting the Do Good Campus on behalf of the School at the final pitch competition was Robert T. Grimm Jr, director of the Do Good Institute and the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the School.
University of Maryland’s Do Good Campus is a new, scalable model for higher education that is driven by the School’s Do Good Institute, and its results. Launched in 2016, the Do Good Campus builds on initial efforts, including an annual campus-wide Do Good Challenge which has produced a number of powerful and impactful social ventures and projects working to address issues, such as hunger, poverty and health disparity. Two past Challenge alums have been named to the Forbes’s list of Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30. The Do Good Campus approach busts down traditional academic silos and makes social impact education a core element of all students’ experiences from orientation to graduation.
Grimm said, “What makes our approach innovative is it harnessing the power of a campus and working across every school – from engineering to the arts and humanities, for example – to create opportunities for student engagement and impact. This model creates an on-ramp that can lead students from any major through a process of experiencing, learning and developing skills to innovatively create efforts that produce transformational results.”
Finalists were given 10 minutes to pitch their idea and then answered questions from the panel of judges who are experts in social innovation, nonprofit management and public sector value creation. Following the pitches, the judges unanimously selected UMD School of Public Policy and its Do Good Institute as the winner of the competition for its Do Good Campus model.
The first annual Senator George Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge was open to all NASPAA-affiliated student groups, faculty and administrators across the United States and in 14 countries around the globe.