Introducing: Small Change, Better World Selections

Spring 2018 projects span a range of focus regions and topics

The Blum Center’s newest project funding platform — Small Change, Better World — held its first call for proposals in March and the results were inspiring. Seven student proposals were selected for funding totaling over $10,000. Read more about each below.


Danushi De Silva: Supporting Education in Sri Lanka

Danushi plans to provide books and related materials to a library at a rural school in Sri Lanka. The library will serve as a center for learning and development. Improving the school libraries with text books and other educational books will help improve their situation and help provide these children with a brighter future.

Danushi is an international student from Sri Lanka, majoring in International Studies and Sociology.


Kimberly Haagenson: Supplies for Community Center in Peru

Kimberly was introduced to CEDIF-INABIF, a community organization that functioned as both a soup kitchen and after-school center, as part of the 2017 Global Service Scholars program in Ayacucho, Peru. While working there, she and two fellow GSS students asked the directors what they thought could best improve the center. Based on the directors’ needs, Kimberly applied for funding to provide a projector to facilitate workshops as well as supplies for the students.

Kimberly is an education sciences major at UCI. Her interests include humanitarianism, social justice, and education.


Michelle Krehbiel: Backpacks for Success

Michelle plans to purchase school supplies for 200 underprivileged children in Orange County, who would have otherwise started the school year without any due to a gap in donor funding. Each child will receive a new backpack filled with paper, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, colored pencils, and other miscellaneous grade appropriate supplies. By providing for the basic needs of these children, she believes they will be given an equal opportunity to be successful in education.

Michelle is a junior at UCI where she studies Psychology and Social Behavior. Michelle is a Regents Scholar, a Campuswide Honors student and a participant in the Advanced Field Studies program at the School of Social Ecology. She hopes to use her UCI education to bring awareness to the issues that she is most passionate about.


Lydia Natoolo: Solar Panels in Uganda

Lydia has been working with the Atutur Hospital in Uganda since 2013. She founded Love a Community, a non-profit organization, to help provide clean water and reliable electricity to the rural hospital serving over 500 patients each day. After restoring clean water, the hospital has decreased its mortality rate to 2 percent from 19.5 percent and dramatically reduced infections over the past year. The next step is to install additional solar panels to support the hospital’s needs.

Lydia is a Biological Sciences major and the current President of ASUCI. For her many accomplishments, she was recently awarded the Dalai Lama scholarship for a business proposal based on empowering women.


Bhavesh Patel

Bhavesh will be working with Mahmadpura village school to implement the expansion of an anti-tobacco program he developed, which operates on a community-based model, innovatively engaging community members themselves, including local students, teachers, and village leaders, as agents of change supplemental to external health workers. The funding will go towards equipment and supplies for students to access for the years to come.

Bhavesh is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences at UCI. His experiences in clinical research at UCI Medical Center and volunteering in rural India and Mexico have inspired him to attend medical school to become a physician after his undergraduate studies.


Zayda Sorrell-Medina: Environmental Justice Training

Zayda developed the social justice program entitled Saving Our Communities, which engages scholars, artists, and the community to examine social justice topics and to work collaboratively to produce a theatre production as a tool for social change.

Zayda is a Social Change Artist, Community Organizer and Researcher. Her personal and professional mission is to utilize research, community engagement, and art as a platform to examine social issues and engender social change.


Dean Wong: Medical Diagnostic Equipment

Dean and the other UCI students involved with the Flying Samaritans applied for funding to obtain replacement medical diagnostic equipment used to take vitals from patients as the first part of the medical triage process. They also plan to replenish their medication supply in the on-site pharmacy.

Dean is a 4th year Psychology and Social Behavior major with a minor in Medical Humanities. Dean became involved with Flying Samaritans through his belief that healthcare should be something that every person has access to, regardless of their means to pay or socioeconomic status.


Ready to submit your own application to Small Change, Better World? Applications are now open for Summer 2018 funding. Learn more and apply by May 25.