Student community action projects raise over $10,000 for good causes

Social Sciences

- Anne MacLaurin

A collage of images of the rainwater project in rural Zambia. Photo credit: Taylor Josephy.

Creating social change is slow, challenging and often discouraging-but a class of environmental studies students took up the challenge with surprising results. Students in ES 407, “Mindfulness, Sustainability and Social Change,” undertook community action projects in groups that ended up raising over $10,000 for good causes locally and internationally.

Mindfulness. Sustainability. Social Change.

“Fundraising is one of the more difficult jobs in the social change world,” says UVic environmental studies professor James Rowe, “I am impressed that our students rose to the challenge and raised a lot of money in a short period of time.”

The student projects ranged from raising $500 for Syrian refugee support to $4,500 raised for a rainwater harvesting project in Zambia.

“The purpose of our fundraising project was to help fund the construction of a community irrigation dam in a water-starved region of rural Zambia,” says student Taylor Josephy. “We hosted a live-music art auction that featured works from Zambia, Haiti and local photographers—we had a really good time and raised more than we expected.”

The SAM Project

Josephy is completing an undergraduate degree in Ocean and Earth Sciences with a minor in the School of Environmental Studies’ Restoration of Natural Systems program. He has been completing co-op work terms in Zambia as a project manager for The Sam Project.

“We’re a small group, but we’re trying our best and are seeing progress,” says Josephy. “My main role is to apply the water budget, a job made a lot easier by an amazing network of communities, staff and advisors.”

There were also many local initiatives, including $1,300 raised for the Mustard Seed, $600 for the BC SPCA, $2,200 for the Pull Together campaign (First Nations legal defense) and $1,200 for the Victoria Period Project.

Helping street-involved youth

Locally, the Victoria Period Project was an initiative of UVic environmental studies students Brett Koenig, Megan Sociedade and Roxanne Power, who wanted to bring menstrual products to people in need.

“Our belief is that everyone who menstruates should be able to do so safely, comfortably and with dignity,” says Koenig. “Our main goal of the project was to decrease the stigma around menstruation and provide free products to low-income and street-involved youth.”

The fundraising for the Victoria Period Project began with a concert with several bands (Yikes, Teenage Wedding, and Bright Boy) who generously donated their time and resources. The concert raised $750 and more than $500 was raised through an online fundraising platform—enough to provide 10-15 youth with free monthly menstrual products for three to six months. 

The students in ES 407 learned that applying mindfulness to social change and sustainability can bring results and create impact in communities.

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Keywords: environmental studies, fundraising, philanthropy, community, international, student life

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