This idea occurred to University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) senior Dana Hork, now chair of
UPenn’s undergraduate student government. During her sophomore year, “I noticed that all of my friends had a container full of change sitting in their rooms at school � I’m from Minnesota, and it was a big pain for me to bring all my change home from school,” she said.
In the spring of 2000, Hork created Change for Change, a collection drive intended for use at any college campus. After the program’s great start at UPenn, Mike Proman ’03 sought to start up an Amherst chapter. Change for Change is unique in that it can work virtually anywhere. “We’re in the third year at Penn � the beauty of it is that you can tailor it to your particular school,” said Hork.
“Every member of the student body can partake in this, whether they be an athlete or interested in theater � it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t require anything of anybody except for some heart,” said Proman.
Change for Change is unique for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. When each student returns to campus this year, he will find a plastic cup in his dorm room for loose change along with a sheet explaining the program. Four collections are planned for this year, with the aid of varsity athletic teams and other campus organizations. At 38 cents a cup and with some volunteer help from members of the student body and faculty, Proman explained, “We can run this program for $800 a year.”
That $800 comes from funding from Outreach; Proman brought the idea to Outreach president Nicole Sandoz ’03, who agreed with Proman’s effort to target more than just the same people who typically get involved in community activism. With Sandoz on board, Proman sought to make this initiative work at Amherst, home to an atmosphere that is different in many ways from the University of Pennsylvania.
Change for Change is the answer to even the laziest student’s personal schedule. “We could have a collection in the Campus Center and say ‘this is when you can go and give money,’ but the fact is that people won’t do that � it’s unfortunate, but it needs to be spoon-fed to them sometimes.”
Various groups on campus support Proman’s program, such as the Resident Counselor (RC) staff, maintenance staff and various athletic and affinity groups. “We’ve had to depend on many different branches for this, and it’s nice to see everyone coming together,” he said. The RCs will discuss Change for Change in dorm talks as part of their social action component and will be a huge help in promoting the program, according to Proman.
For Proman, the program should both raise campus awareness about service projects as well as meeting the needs of the community. “We don’t necessarily care about the money,” said Proman. “It’s more important that we succeed and get the word out right away-we want to show [students] right when they get to school.” The promotion of the program’s additional purpose of spurring local charitable giving and increasing philanthropy within the community is just as important as the money itself.
But the money will have tremendous potential to impact our community, explained Proman. On the Change for Change website, students have the opportunity to vote for an organization that will receive the donations. Money raised in the
first collection will be donated to one of nine charitable organizations, divided into three categories: after-school programs, shelters and other programs that provide a basic need and family care services, such as a food bank. Students can cast their ballots by using the Amherst link on the Change for Change website and then choosing one of the organizations detailed on the site, www.changeforchange.com. “It’s more than just a glorified change drive because the students actually have a voice for where the money goes,” said Proman.
While the average college student is sorely lacking in time and money, Change for Change
seeks to work around that, transforming an insignificantly small dent in a student’s pocket to much-needed aid in the community.