SHU Leads Nation in Fight Against Poverty

News Story:

Sacred Heart University is currently ranked first in the nation in the ONE Campus Challenge.

ONE is a campaign that seeks to raise public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger, disease and efforts to fight such problems in developing countries. During the ONE Campus Challenge, chapters receive points for activism. Writing letters to politicians, recruiting new members or photographing a school mascot in a ONE t-shirt are just a few of the activities that garner points.  

As of March 12, Sacred Heart University and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had distanced themselves from over 1,400 campuses by scoring 1,086,655 and 956,785 points respectively. Other schools competing for the top spot are: Brandeis University; Campbellsville University; George Washington University; Hofstra University; Kansas State University; Princeton University; Western Kentucky University; and Wilmington College.

Much of SHU’s success can be attributed to sophomore Mike Fazzino, the president and founder of SHU’s ONE chapter.

“We’ve been competing with literally every other university in the nation for the past five months,” sophomore Mike Fazzino, the president and founder of SHU’s ONE chapter, said. “This really shows that the Pioneers may not have the numbers of a larger university, but we certainly have the heart.”

With their top ten ranking, the SHU chapter will receive a $1,000 grant to create a project, program or event that draws attention to the global crises of poverty and disease. Fazzino said the grant money will be used to start programs and outreach in the Bridgeport community.

“Although we’ve yet to come up with anything concrete, over the upcoming weeks we will be using the money to increase our visibility on campus and in the community in the hopes of winning the overall competition,” Fazzino added.

The SHU chapter will have five weeks to create their Bridgeport project. At the end of March, every ONE member will have the opportunity to vote on the projects completed by the top ten schools. The projects will also be ranked by a panel of experts, including Gene Sperling of the Council on Foreign Relations, Sam Worthington, President of InterAction, and ONE Campus Challenge leaders Erin Eagan and Weldon Kennedy.

Eagan, ONE’s Student Outreach Coordinator, has worked closely with Fazzino and the SHU team over the past few months and said she is thrilled at their effort during the challenge.

“Recognizing it is necessary to bring many different groups to the table, they have reached out to student groups across campus, athletic teams, Sacred Heart leadership and local high schools,” Eagan said. “They have signed a petition to ask the next president of the United States to commit to going to Africa in the next four years and have brought a member of Congress to campus to talk about these issues.  These are only some of the remarkable ways that SHU students are reaching out to our nation's leaders and making poverty and preventable diseases a part of the conversation on campus."

In January, Fazzino, of Woodbury, Conn., traveled to Washington, D.C., for the first-ever ONE student summit. Along with 120 of the nation’s top ONE student activists, he met key political figures to discuss global poverty and disease.

“It was an incredible experience,” Fazzino said. “It gave me a sense of hope for the future. I got to spend time with some of the best student leaders in the country, as well as speak face-to-face with some of the most influential individuals in the country.”

Fazzino said he believes Sacred Heart University will be able to hold on to its top ranking.

“We’re still growing,” Fazzino said. “We have new members showing up at every meeting.” There are currently over 100  SHU students participating in the program. The chapter meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of Roncalli Hall.

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