Today the University of Maryland has launched a campus-wide initiative called “Do Good” initiative.

According to UMD President Dr. Wallace Loh, this initiative aims to educate and inspire a Do Good generation of students to apply their education, skills, and values to make an impact on the great societal challenges of our time — such as poverty, health inequity, injustice, food and water security, and climate change. It is rooted in our land-grant mission of putting knowledge into practice for social and economic betterment.

A new Do Good Institute will engage a broad range of academic disciplines. It will build on the successful academic and experiential programs at the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the School of Public Policy, as well as on cognate programs across campus on social entrepreneurship, innovation, and social change.

The Institute will be housed in a new building for the School of Public Policy. We will also develop space for a Do Good Accelerator to enable students to create and scale-up their social impact ventures.

A Do Good campus will serve a growing student interest. The Higher Education Research Institute recently reported a fifty-year high in the percentage of students today who say that helping others is a “very important” priority.

At UMD, student interest is extensive. The Do Good Challenge — an annual competition that engages hundreds of participants from every school and college — has launched successful ventures to reduce hunger; prevent sexual assault; provide free legal services to the poor; build schoolhouses in developing countries; and bring potable water to remote villages.

An example of the integration of education, research, and social impact that thrives on a Do Good campus is the movement to end hunger. A primary goal of our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is to develop higher quality and higher yield food in an environmentally sustainable manner. However, a large proportion of food in our country is wasted.

A Government & Politics major and Do Good Challenge alumnus (Ben Simon, ’14) co-founded a nonprofit called the Food Recovery Network. Students recover unserved food from dining halls and deliver it to homeless shelters in the region, in accordance with public health requirements. The network has now expanded to over 190 colleges and seeks to include every college in the country with the goal of ending hunger in America. Forbes recently named him one of the “Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30” in the U.S.

This initiative will prepare many graduates, like Ben, to Do Good in the world. It will help transform idealism into impact and passion into community benefit.

Support for the Do Good Institute — from individual and family gifts, state funding, corporate and foundation grants — is expected to top $75 million.