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31 Lengths raises money for Uganda

Carolina Wilson | Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Through the 31 Lengths Campaign, a team of passionate Notre Dame students is using its business skills to create an entrepreneurship center at the Lacor Secondary School near Gulu, Uganda.

Freshman Emily Mediate, undergraduate project leader, said the center’s resources will benefit the entire community of Gulu.

“We are working on implementing a variety of programs at the center, including a speaker series, training of the librarian at the entrepreneurship center [and] implementation of entrepreneur teaching materials and an MBA internship program,” Mediate said.

MBA student Conor Evans and his wife Lauren Evans used their talents in construction design and their interest in the role of business in emerging economies to found the campaign, Mediate said. She said Conor spoke with several non-governmental organizations in developing countries during the first year of his master’s program.

Mediate said the story of Secretariat, a racehorse that won the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 horse lengths, inspired the campaign. According to the campaign’s website, Secretariat serves as a metaphor for people’s ability to achieve when they are empowered.

The project is meant to strengthen education in Gulu and requires 90 thousand dollars to complete, Mediate said.

“We are finishing raising the last part of funds for the library and will finish construction and begin implementation of business programs over the summer,” she said.

Mediate said some of the campaign’s most successful fundraisers so far have been small.

“We actually held an undergraduate dodgeball tournament event earlier in the month to raise awareness and funding for the project,” she said. “The event was a huge success.”

Members of the campaign helped construct the entrepreneurship center during Notre Dame’s spring break, Mediate said. She said they will collaborate with the Invisible Children organization and Ugandan professionals to train the staff members that will run the center.

“I heard from MBA students who went over spring break that there was a huge response from the children at the school,” Mediate said. “They are more than thrilled to be getting an entrepreneurship center at their school available with numerous resources to them.”

Mediate said the campaign’s mission extends beyond raising money to construct a building.

“This project is about using each individual’s talent in a way that unlocks the potential of others,” she said.

The entrepreneurship center’s grand opening is scheduled for late August, Mediate said. She said she thinks the center’s inception will mark the beginning of educational growth in Gulu.

“It has been amazing to see the project grow from an idea to a plan to a structure and an implementation,” Mediate said. “Not only is this project focused on building an entrepreneurship center with resources for the children at the secondary school, it aims to empower the Ugandan people to take advantage of the economic opportunities flourishing in Gulu.”

For more information or to donate to the campaign, visit 31lengthscampaign.com.