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“The work you’re doing is going to make a difference in the world. Keep going.”

This is the message that students from Bentley’s Service Learning Center (BSLC) heard throughout their time volunteering at Free the Children’s “We Day” event in Toronto last fall. Fueled by the desire for change, “We Day” invites over 20,000 youth to hear from inspirational speakers ranging from Nobel Peace prize winners to pop culture icons with the goal of promoting a year of action for social change to better the global community.

Upon their return to campus, BSLC’s civic actions committee partnered with Free the Children’s Adopt a Village Program to raise $10,000 to build an elementary school in Ecuador as their commitment to “a year of change.” Adopt a Village allows communities that participate in the program to learn how to independently sustain their villages with money and resources raised by sponsors.

The civic actions committee was inspired to choose Ecuador as the location to build a school because of the country’s cultural belief of — “minga.” “Minga is when a whole community comes together to work on a project that will benefit the entire group,” Jillian Eglitis ’16 says. “We felt this concept relates exactly to what we are trying to do at Bentley — bring the community together to build a school as well as raise awareness for global poverty.”

To reach their goal of $10,000, the group created a two week initiative called BUIILD (Bentley Unites to Improve International Livelihood and Development). The first week aimed to spread awareness about the different issues that contribute to global poverty, while the second week centered on fundraising for the school and included a presentation from Spencer West, a motivational speaker from Free the Children.

“This has been a collective community effort,” says Jonathan White, director of the Service Learning Center. “The students on this project have not only worked tirelessly to put the initiative together, but also put their business skills to work by developing a thoughtful, strategic plan.”

BUILLD has risen over $7,000 to date.