Students take up Kapco challenge to make a difference

What would you do if someone gave you a boxful of money and challenged you to make a difference in your community?

Two teams of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students have taken up the Kapco Charitable Challenge to do just that.

They are among 22 local university and high school teams who received a box with $1,000 apiece to use as seed money in developing projects to improve their communities. UWM’s Challenge is being coordinated by the Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership and Research and the Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship. Advisers from those groups will work with the teams.

UWM students taking part in the Kapco Charitable Challenge include Megan Marquis (from left), Karlie Ferguson, Olivia Gaba, Taylor Blad, Alycia Doxon, Chantel Teague and Alana Smith. At right is Laurie Marks, director of the Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research. (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)

The challenge is funded by Kapco Metal Stamping in Grafton in an effort to develop leadership and business skills in young people while helping local nonprofits. Jim Kacmarcik, owner of the firm, started a foundation called Hometown Heroes right after 9/11 to support and honor first responders, military personnel and children’s charities, according to Dean Rennicke, the firm’s vice president of marketing. In 2008, the foundation initiated the charitable challenge to incorporate leadership development and encourage students to “pay it forward.” This is the first year UWM has participated.

The college-level challenge will have two phases:

Students will start with $1,000 in seed money and find and share stories about groups and people who are making a positive difference in their communities, focusing on overcoming negative stereotypes. Teams will also work to grow their seed money to help others and make a difference. When that phase, which started Sept. 27, ends Oct. 25, the projects will be judged on their written and oral presentations.

After the judging, four teams will then move on to the next phase where they will receive a new challenge, coming up with a plan to help a nonprofit organization or project of their choice in Southeastern Wisconsin. Students will use their skills in marketing, event management, fundraising, public relations, marketing, social media and public speaking.

Winner of the challenge will be announced Nov. 15.

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