High-Tech Community Service Helps Enactus Finish in Nation’s Top 20

The Jindal School’s Enactus team showed off its trophies before leaving Cincinnati after finishing in the top 20 at the organization’s national competition in April. Team members were (back row, left to right:) Sridevi Aellala , Qian (Lexie) Cheng, Jeremy Bates, Monikaben Patel, Vilash Ravi, Amit Malhan, William Travis Sickler, faculty advisor Dr. Jeanne Sluder, Vinay Bhalerao and (front row, left to right:) Rushitej Reddy, Sheetal Darekar and Statish Kikani.

When community service goes high-tech in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, students use their technical skills to help a variety of charities.

As part of the JSOM-based group Enactus, students — many of them studying information technology — redesigned a website to help aid long-term recovery efforts for the town of West, Texas.

They also used social-media marketing to help raise nearly $25,000 for Heroes on the Water, a charity that helps wounded veterans.

And they built search-engine-optimization tools for a charity, Living for Zachary, that raises awareness about sudden cardiac arrest in youth.

With these and several other projects, Enactus placed in the semifinal round of the organization’s annual national competition for the first time in the Jindal student group’s history.

At the 2014 Enactus United States National Exposition in Cincinnati, the 11-member competition team demonstrated 16 community service projects that totaled 6,116 hours of service by more than 80 members and impacted more than 70,000 lives.

The Jindal School student group finished in the Top 20 of the 202 teams that competed in the April 1-3 event. The JSOM team won $2,700 in prizes and gained experience and recognition that resulted in internships and jobs.

Early in the 2013-2014 academic year, the group wanted to do a service project to help the town of West, still recovering from a devastating fertilizer plant explosion that occurred in April 2013. But the Enactus students found that West already had been flooded with food, bottled water and other supplies.

Then the highly skilled volunteers found another way to get involved.

“They needed the technical support these students could provide,” said Dr. Jeanne Sluder, senior lecturer and advisor to the group. “They needed people to work on the website.”

The team members used their technical skills on the West Long-Term Recovery site to build search-engine-optimization tools, used analytics to determine website effectiveness and designed ads to reach out to more donors and volunteers.

“This was an exceptional competition team. They were so proud of all the work our organization had done throughout the year, and they were passionate about telling our story.” Sluder said.

“We all hope to do the same type of work again this year and go back together next year.” Enactus member Monika Patel said that she is grateful for the opportunity to compete at the national level.

“We did our best to serve the community in all possible ways with the limited resources available,” Patel said. “Everyone spoke from their heart…, which touched the judges and helped us get into the Top 20.”

In addition to the tech projects, Enactus members collected 5,000 pounds of food, gave presentations to children about proper dental hygiene and provided workforce training to low-income women.