Unsung Heroes is expanding nationwide from its Georgetown roots to include more than 10 different chapters at universities across the country starting at the end of March.
Schools including Syracuse University, Emory University, the University of California, Los Angeles and American University, will all start Unsung Heroes chapters.
Unsung Heroes was launched at Georgetown in April 2016 as an initiative to spotlight university staff to spread awareness of their backgrounds and help them achieve their goals.
The group’s founder, Febin Bellamy (MSB ’17), started working with schools in the fall to ensure the successful rollout of new Unsung Heroes chapters. According to Bellamy, the process of expanding the organization is akin to franchising, as each chapter is required to be follow the same structure and guidelines, but is allowed to help workers in different ways.
“Even though they’re a chapter, they’re another arm, they represent our brand. We give them our handbook,” Bellamy said. “It’s like Starbucks or Subway — the same concept, same model. Maybe a different sandwich if you get approval, but relatively the same concept.”
Director of Expansion for Unsung Heroes Elizabeth Nalunga (SFS ’19) said while each of the other chapters will have a certain degree of autonomy, current leadership of Unsung Heores at Georgetown is planning on staying connected with each of the chapters to provide advice and materials to create a community of those involved.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about working on the expansion part of Unsung Heroes,” Nalunga said. “We’re really part of a community where people are able to stay in touch, students are able to communicate with other students.”
Each chapter must receive club recognition from their school administration before they are invited join Unsung Heroes. Bellamy said the requirement will help ensure each chapter remains open more than one or two years.
“We’re making sure the official chapters will be here to stay,” Bellamy said. “The way we confirm an official chapter is through club recognition. Once they receive the recognition from the school saying Unsung Heroes is now an official club, then they get the stamp of approval.”
While Unsung Heroes received interest from at least 40 schools, only 10 were able to clear the application process, which requires applicants to complete an online questionnaire.
Nalunga said the organization is still working to create future partnerships with students from the schools that did not meet the initial application requirements.
“We have 10 schools we are working with closely and intensely right now to start their chapters by middle to late March,” Nalunga said. “Then we have another 20 or so schools we are working with, but they are in the beginning stages of getting their chapters on board.”
Unsung Heroes CFO Precious King (SFS ’20) said that she and Bellamy were working on creating a national board of directors to help the organization grow further. The board will help coordinate a national fundraising campaign for workers, in which Unsung Heroes will require each affiliate chapter to do two fundraising campaigns for workers at their universities.
“Every national chapter needs a board of directors,” King said. “If you looked at past companies that were started and moving up, they need to have an advisory group that can guide you, that’s there for advice and support — someone to go back to.”
King said she hopes Unsung Heroes is able to develop greater appreciation for workers at universities across the nation.
“Our goal is to make it a lifestyle for people to recognize the world around you and interact with workers you see on a daily basis, not disregard them,” King said. “To be able to expand that vision around the nation, we’re looking forward to that.”
Hoya Staff Writer Ben Goodman contributed reporting.