After years of giving back to the D.C. community through D.C. Reads, Craig Melcher (MSB ’13) and Evan Curdts (COL ’13) decided to turn their personal impact into a financial one.
Melcher and Curdts founded Working for the Kids, a nonprofit corporation that allows D.C. Reads tutors with work-study awards to donate part or all of their salary to a public charity supporting D.C. child literacy.
If each of the approximately 120 work-study tutors donates one hour of the average six hours per week that tutors typically work, Working for the Kids will fundraise close to $30,000 a semester.
“The importance of [Working for the Kids] as a whole is that it will essentially be doubling the impact of D.C. Reads,” Melcher said. “Not only are students able to actively affect these kids’ lives by tutoring and helping them learn, but it’s also having a financial impact on other organizations that are doing the same things.”
Melcher tutored with D.C. Reads during his freshman and sophomore years but decided to return when he found himself with more spare time in his senior spring. Since, in his last semester of college, he wanted to tutor on a purely volunteer basis but did not want his work-study salary to go to waste, he had the idea to found Working for the Kids.
“I didn’t want my motivation for doing D.C. Reads again to come from getting paid,” Melcher said.
Approximately 40 tutors expressed interest in donating part of their work-study salary to Working for the Kids when Melcher introduced the program March 13, but only seven have set up the direct deposit process necessary to transfer their donation to the Working for the Kids account so far. While the program appeals most directly to students with work-study awards, those who tutor with D.C. Reads without compensation are also welcome to donate.
“Fundraising development is an aspect we haven’t taken on as a program,” Curdts, a D.C. Reads coordinator, said. “It’s an opportunity to take on a deeper role and do more for the community and schools we work in.”
Depending on how much money is raised, Working for the Kids will donate to one or multiple charities. The next step for the organization is to apply for 501c(3) nonprofit status, after which it will become a public charity, making donations tax deductible.
Though Working for the Kids is not directly affiliated with D.C. Reads, D.C. Reads Program DirectorNathanial Roloff has supported Melcher and Curdts as they have spearheaded the project. He said that this project will be especially helpful to smaller charities that are working toward the same goal of community development but have limited access to necessary resources.
“Most students ask themselves what they can do here, and what they can create here. I’m really impressed that Craig thought to himself, ‘What can I create outside of Georgetown, and how can I connect resources at a university to these larger projects that we all talk about wanting to support, especially those of us who actually see that struggle?’” Roloff said. “There is a place for students who engage in this work to be critical about the way that development in the city can work. I hope that students choose to get engaged, not just donate, but engage to help support some of the development that they would like to see outside of Georgetown.”
D.C. Reads Coordinator Allie Liotta (COL ’15) was one of the first tutors to donate to the program.
“We don’t get a lot of funding for D.C. Reads through [the Center for Social Justice],” Liotta said. “I think this project is a good way to demonstrate what we’re interested in, and what we want to see accomplished in the city in Wards 7 and 8. This is a way we can make our influence heard more effectively.”
Roloff said he hopes to see the project continue to grow in size and impact.
“Students at most universities in this city have expendable income and no specific way to think about ways to engage in that,” Roloff said. “In an ideal world this project would become the hub for students throughout the city that do engage in community work to be thinking about how they can make a contribution to growing the community development organizations that matter.”