Two dollars may seem like only spare change, but to a group of students from seven local colleges and universities, it's something else entirely.
Two dollars can buy a cup of coffee. Or it could go toward the Ignite Greensboro Project, a student-led, student-built and student-run project aimed to reestablish a sense of obligation to the community, culture and history of Greensboro. This is the mission around which more than 100 student members have become galvanized.
"We really want to give back to the generations that preceded us. It's inspiring to realize what we've accomplished in just a few months," says senior Stephanie Dappenbrook, a chemistry and biology double major.
The Ignite Greensboro project was founded by UNCG senior Zim Ugochukwu. The driving force is the opening of the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro in February, but the ultimate goal is to boost the level of student engagement.
If we could collect $2 from each student, they would own a part of history.
Reigniting the passion
Once, Greensboro was a hotbed of activism. The Woolworth sit-in helped launch the civil rights movement. These days, few students are aware of plans to open the International Civil Rights Museum located in the Elm Street building where the famous protest took place, Zim says. Bridging commonalities among students, institutions and the community is the goal of Ignite Greensboro. Speakers, service projects and scholarships are among the potential positive outcomes. And it all starts with one question: Got two?
Zim and the Ignite Greensboro group, which includes students from UNCG, NC A&T, Bennett College, Guilford College, and Guilford Tech, collect $2 from fellow students and community residents. Donations symbolize the cups of coffee four freshman NC A&T students attempted to order at the Woolworth
lunch counter in 1960.
"That idea stuck with me," Zim says. "If we could collect $2 from each student, they would own a part of history."
The idea germinated from a meeting with Mayor Yvonne Johnson. Zim had taken a political science class that led her to work on the Obama campaign. From there, she developed a passion for getting people involved. As lack of student awareness and activism weighed on her, she met with the mayor to brainstorm what she could do to make a difference.
Students making a difference
Sure enough, Zim's inspiration has ignited an enthusiasm for community activism among local college students. So far, they've raised more than $500 and several thousand in pledges toward the goal of $30,000 to $50,000. T he money will be used to support the museum with intergenerational gifts [given from one generation to the next], attract speakers, pay for service projects and create scholarships for elementary through college-age students.
"It's about much more than the museum," says Zim. "It's about getting out there and doing something. It's about reestablishing a sense of obligation among young people to the community."
In July, Zim traveled to Washington, DC to receive a national student leader award for her efforts from Campus Progress, an event at which she introduced former President Bill Clinton. And in August, the Ignite Greensboro group won a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
"I hope we can change lives," she says.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service a Success
This year marks the first ever region-wide collegiate MLK collaboration for Triad area universities. Nine schools across the Triad honored and united behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s spirit of service
and the theme of "Sit In. Stand Up. March On,: during the "MLK Day of Service" events.
The MLK Day of Service was established in 1994 as a federally-legislated day of service. The aim of the day is making the holiday a day ON where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the "beloved community" that Dr. King envisioned.
Students from UNCG participated in several service projects in Greensboro, including the Let's Raise a Million MLK Light Bulb Retrofit Day 2010 spearheaded by Ignite Greensboro. Volunteers with this project replaced traditional light bulbs with energy efficient CFL bulbs in the East White Oak Neighborhood. UNCG students also hosted a "read-in" for youth at the Greensboro HIVE and volunteered at the Interactive Resource Center. As part of our MLK service projects, the OLSL also collected 282 children?s books for the MLK Read On! Book Drive. These books were donated to the Glen Haven Community Center and the McGirt-Horton Library. Monday's volunteer efforts concluded in downtown Greensboro, where despite a snowy atmosphere, students from around the Triad along with community members joined forces for a Unity March.
The 2009-2010 Martin Luther King Service Award went to Zim Ugochukwu. Zim is a nationally recognized student leader, and participated in the 2010 service day events by leading the "Let's Raise a Million" service project. She is also the founder of the Ignite Greensboro [Got Two?] Project, which is focused on re-establishing a sense of obligation to the community, culture, and history of Greensboro.
Zimuzor Ugochukwu, was selected as a recipient of the 4th annual NC Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award. This award is presented to one student from each of our member institutions who makes significant, innovative contributions to campus-based efforts to address community needs. Zim's workshop won the inaugural Most Inspiring workshop presentation award, selected by her peers from all the workshops presented at the North Carolina Campus Compact's 17th Annual Student Conference.
For more information, please contact:
Cathy H. Hamilton, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Leadership and Service-Learning
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
P. O. Box 26170
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170