UMW’s Month of Microfinance a Platform for Global Discussion

#MicrofinanceCanBe Campaign Submission

The University of Mary Washington will host the fourth annual Month of Microfinance this April, leveraging the month as a platform for a global discussion surrounding the results of a new study questioning microfinance’s impact on poverty. … [Read more...]

UMW Leads National Two Dollar Challenge

UMW students participating in a previous Two Dollar Challenge.

Nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. And this April, students at colleges and universities across the nation will too. For the ninth consecutive year, the University of Mary Washington will lead the national Two Dollar Challenge to raise awareness of global poverty April 6-10. The 5-day awareness program challenges college and high school students across the United States to live on just two dollars a day. Participants buy food, hygiene products and other necessities out of two dollars a day while following other rules designed to simulate obstacles faced by people living in poverty. Founded at UMW in 2006, the Two Dollar Challenge is now a national educational movement in partnership with Oxfam America and Results. The challenge is run by eight UMW students and Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey – all on $50 and volunteer support. At UMW, students will spend the week living and sleeping in make-shift shelters built from cardboard boxes and … [Read more...]

UMW Students Lead Global Microfinance Movement

The Two Dollar Challenge, part of the Month of Microfinance, raises awareness and funds for poverty-related causes.

More than 85 global microfinance partners have joined the University of Mary Washington in the Month of Microfinance. Throughout the month of April, students at UMW and other participating colleges, universities and high schools will host and participate in campus events related to providing financial services to low-income people who would otherwise be unable to get assistance. A grassroots movement founded at UMW, the Month of Microfinance (MoMF) is in its second year. This year, dozens of international partners are supporting MoMF, including Kiva, Whole Foods Market’s Whole Planet Foundation and Accion. The program highlights local and global events with the goal of providing a value-driven and positive impact for clients. MoMF facilitates connections between students and the microfinance community through conversation and learning. Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, advocated for microfinance principles in a … [Read more...]

UMW Student-Run Business Launches Online Platform

UMW students visit an artisan in a Honduran village

The University of Mary Washington student-run business, Esfuerzo de Amor, launched an online platform to sell its products on Friday, Nov. 9. The site is the result of the combined efforts of senior Aaron Leung, UMW’s Center for Economic Development and the UMW Bookstore. Esfuerzo de Amor is run by La Ceiba MFI. The business sells its products, which are made by women in two communities in Honduras, in UMW’s bookstore and at Heritage Gifts in downtown Fredericksburg. Artisans from La Brisas and Villa Soleada craft the clutches from recycled chip bags and soda labels they find littering the area. The project, which originated in 2008, was started by UMW student Rachel Mason. Mason taught women in Siete de Abril to make the clutches; now the artisans also create bracelets, earrings, hairbands, key chains and more. The project started as a way to decrease the amount of trash burned in the streets, but has evolved into a way to help women in poverty. Seventy percent of the profit … [Read more...]

Poverty Action Conference at UMW Brings Together Students and Experts

Poverty Action Conference Logo_cropped

Hundreds of students and experts from across the country converged at the University of Mary Washington from Friday, Oct. 5 to Saturday, Oct. 6 for the Poverty Action Conference. The conference, hosted by Two Dollar Challenge, allowed students to share development project ideas and present their work to panels of experts in the field. The two-day conference included more than 15 presentations from students representing universities such as New York University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley. The students shared their work on issues ranging from education and community development to waste management, entrepreneurship and microfinance. “The Poverty Action Conference creates a learning environment that puts students in the spotlight by providing them with the opportunity to receive constructive feedback, network and share ideas with other like-minded individuals,” said Shawn Humphrey, associate professor of economics at UMW … [Read more...]

UMW Economics Professor to Attend Global Networking Summit

Shawn Humphrey

Shawn Humphrey, associate professor of economics at the University of Mary Washington, has been invited to attend the upcoming Opportunity Collaboration, a strategic business retreat and networking summit as one of 300 global delegates. Meeting annually for four days in conjunction with World Poverty Day, Opportunity Collaboration brings nonprofit leaders, for-profit social entrepreneurs, grant-makers and social investors together to “convene, connect and create” with leaders in similar fields, according to its website.  The summit focuses on economic justice and poverty elimination. Jonathan Lewis, CEO and entrepreneur, founded Opportunity Collaboration in 2009. This year, the summit will be held from Sunday, October 14 through Friday, October19 in Ixtapa, Mexico. “Although I was the recipient of this incredible invitation, I go as a representative of my current and former Mary Washington students and the work we have accomplished over the years,” Humphrey said.  “Together we … [Read more...]

Ask Me Why I’m Living on $2 a Day


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UMW Students Raise Awareness of Poverty Through $2 Challenge

UMW students led by Professor Shawn Humphrey (second from left) build a shelter as part of the $2 a Day Challenge

One student pooled his $2 with a friend to buy a jar of generic peanut butter. Another planned to buy rice and beans. Associate Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey used his $10 for the week up-front to buy basic groceries to last him until Friday. Humphrey and 35 UMW students are participating in the annual $2 a Day Challenge, an experiential learning exercise aimed at raising awareness and funds for poverty-related causes. For the week, they will live in a self-made structure on Ball Circle and spend only $2 each day on food and other expenses. In the process, they hope to raise more than $2,000 for La Ceiba, a microfinance institution, while shedding light on poverty issues. “The $2 a Day Challenge was born out of the classroom,” Humphrey said. “Education is the primary focus.” The $2 a Day Challenge, founded by Humphrey, is in its sixth year at UMW. The program is part of the larger TDC organization, which also includes the Month of Microfinance movement and the … [Read more...]

La Ceiba Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign with Film Premier

The La Ceiba team in Honduras in January 2012

La Ceiba, a University of Mary Washington-based collegiate microfinance institution, premiered a film of its operations on Tuesday, March 20 as part of its spring fundraising campaign. Founded in 2008 by Shawn Humphrey, associate professor of economics, La Ceiba provides financial, social and educational support to communities in El Progreso, Honduras, in partnership with Students Helping Honduras and UMW. The film explores UMW students’ recent trip to Honduras. “Each year, upon our return from Honduras, my students and I confront the difficulty of fully articulating our experience to family and friends,” Humphrey said. “They care about what we do and are curious to know all about it. However, despite what we say, nothing seems to fully capture the texture and emotional impact of Honduras. This film does it for us and we are so excited to share it with the UMW community.” La Ceiba hopes to raise $5,000 by the end of the semester to fund the four areas of its program: … [Read more...]

UMW-Based Group to Launch Month of Microfinance in April


The 2012 Month of Microfinance, based at the University of Mary Washington, will make its national debut this April at dozens of college campuses across the country. The Month of Microfinance, a coalition of student-led and student-focused organizations dedicated to microfinance, is led by the founders of TDC and includes seven collegiate microfinance clubs: La Ceiba, MFI Connect, Campus MFI, Penn Microfinance, The Phoenix Fund and High School Kiva. With 42 partners, including, Kiva, Opportunity International, Accion USA, BRAC USA and Grameen America, the national movement is growing. During April, students at participating colleges, universities and high schools will host and participate in campus events related to microfinance for increased awareness and fundraising. Each student-hosted event will focus on the definition of microfinance, the groups that benefit from microfinance and the relationship between client-centered and profit driven microfinance. “I think it is fair … [Read more...]