Social entrepreneurship challenge lends new meaning to "giving back"
Students are helping the local community of Oak Cliff Cultural Center (OCCC) through a classroom challenge posed by Professor Jeremy Short, G. Brint Ryan Chair in Entrepreneurship.
Each semester, Short challenges students to collectively raise $10,000 for local causes by employing their social entrepreurship skills learned in the classroom. For one group of students, however, they’re raising that bar even higher.
Endre Wagner, BUIS major and Hungarian native, developed a personal connection to the challenge when he decided to honor his late best friend and "brother" by giving back to the place he once called home, Oak Cliff.
"I wanted to strive to do something for the children of Oak Cliff in honor and reverence of my fallen brother for the city he loved. Coincidentally, groupmate Martin Czivikli recommended Oak Cliff Cultural Center... Even more coincidentally, Martin is the third Hungarian I'd ever met through my entire academic career in Texas," said Wagner.
Business Integrated Studies and Media Arts double-major Martin Czvikli thought the cultural connections fostered by OCCC would be a perfect fit for their campaign.
“I first found out about the Oak Cliff Cultural Center through volunteering for the Oak Cliff Film Festival, which OCCC helps sponsor,” explained Czvikli. “I thought it would be wonderful to help raise money for them, so they can continue putting on free events for the community of Oak Cliff to participate in.”
Despite Wagner taking a brief and sudden pause in campaign planning to tend to his father's passing, he was able to channel his grief into emotional strength and ultimately help his team achieve their goals of supporting the Oak Cliff Community.
The campaign began in mid-April, but Wagner, Czvikli and teammate Jesse Garcia exceeded their $500 goal within just two weeks of its kick-off.
"I learned a lot about adaptability, productively channeling cumulative grief and also reverence and respect for the people and spaces you are doing the work for," said Wagner.
Historically, teams have primarily used online fundraising platforms like GoFundMe to reach their goals, but Czvikli, Wagner and Garcia had other plans in mind.
On April 27, the team hosted an in-person fundraising event at OCCC, fully equipped with live music, food, drinks, and local art and vendors.
"In reaching out to vendors [for the event], whom I wanted to consist of South DFW hip hop streetwear brands and community organizations, I had to calibrate my message gracefully and meaningfully to get the backing of organizations in such a short notice," Wagner explained.
Their efforts paid off. The team raised nearly $1,500 as a direct result of their OCCC event, bringing their campaign total to nearly $2,000 with almost two weeks left in the challenge.
“Through this campaign I learned that it is important to have multiple different avenues when fundraising. We covered promotion on social media, and we were able to host an event that really boosted the donations and helped spread the word even more about our campaign,” said Czvikli.
"I remember telling my groupmates we were going to knock this out of the park, simply out of my passion for wanting to help my brother's cause, and I couldn't be happier... Channel a few people's motivations towards a few goals that are extremely aligned with their passions and pains and sit back and watch the ceilings of potential break and shatter, one after another," concluded Wagner.