DENTON (UNT), Texas — Social entrepreneurship students at the University of North Texas, inspired by their own experiences, are helping others by creating crowdfunding campaigns to support causes including cancer research, disabled military veterans, public school teachers, women’s shelters and more.
Each semester, Jeremy Short, G. Brint Ryan Chair in Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, leads his class in creating curated campaigns on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and DonorsChoose to raise funds for nonprofits the students choose.
For some students, the project was more than just a class assignment.
Seniors Jill Hackett and Jeremiah Pletan teamed up to support the Children’s Cancer Fund, a North Texas based organization striving to fight cancer through research and providing special care for the children and families currently battling cancer. Pletan’s brother was previously a recipient of the CCF’s help.
In late August of this year, Hackett, who is working toward a psychology degree, was diagnosed with rectal cancer for the second time. Despite facing so many obstacles, she has found a way to help others conquer their own challenges.
“Going through my own experience, I know the money could really help the families,” Hackett said.
The CCF’s mission is to prioritize care methods for North Texas children fighting cancer and improve the quality of the children’s lives, bringing families who are going through treatments together, through various fun and social events throughout the year.
Hackett hopes their campaign will be a source of light for families during a dark time.
Similarly, junior Nicole Schroeder and seniors Erin Jeffery and Ron Christensen chose to campaign for Patriot Paws, an organization that focuses on training service dogs for disabled military veterans, a cause Christensen holds near to his heart as a disabled veteran.
“Students often feel college classes are disconnected from the realities of the business world,” Short said. “This project creates social entrepreneurs making real change financially for causes where they can express their passions.”
As part of the class this semester, students organized and hosted a “Greensgiving” event in the UNT Union on Nov. 17. The event featured a live DJ, silent auction, cash bar, snacks and individualized campaign promotions.
In total, the class raised more than $10,000 for 18 campaigns.
GoFundMe campaigns for nonprofits:
- Children's Cancer Fund - Give the Gift of Hope
- Denton Animal Shelter Foundation - Toys 4 Ruffs
- Denton Animal Shelter Foundation - No Paws Left Behind
- Faith Filled Church - Everybody Eats
- Genesis Center North Texas - Help domestic abuse survivors regain their lives
- Operation Kindness - Operation Kindness for Animals
- Patriot PAWS - Service Dogs for Patriot PAWS
- SAFE-T Crisis Center - SAFE-T for Domestic Violence Survivors
- She Supply - Help End Period Poverty for 920 Women
DonorsChoose campaigns for public school teachers:
- Art Gallery
- Education and Excellence in 3D
- Help My Kids Capture Their School Year!
- Making a Mark on Education
- Magic School Rug
- Putting a Reel Focus on STEM Learning
- Serving the Minds of Artistic Mustangs
- Special Change
- Teach for the Stars
Check out other holiday story ideas here.
About the Social Entrepreneurship Course
Jeremy Short’s research focuses on crowdfunding and social entrepreneurship. While he has taught the course in virtual and partially in-person formats, he is continuously looking for new ways to improve the experience for his students, including incorporating the planning of a fundraising event in the class. Before the end of the semester, each group must raise $500 for their campaign, and the class must reach a total sum of $10,000. Short offers the class bonus points for each additional $5,000 they raise for the organizations.