When you start a new class, you don’t usually expect to end that class with your own benefit corporation. For Daniel Hirst, an electrical engineering major, Meghan Pollard, a marketing major, and Caden Gregorie, an entrepreneurship major, that’s exactly what happened. During the spring semester of 2016, these three students fell on the idea of helping kids in foster care.
“We didn’t know how to help, but we knew people that had been involved. We knew there was a lot of social opportunity to rethink the norm and build some type of company,” Hirst said. “We knew we could make a difference in something.”
With the help of Barclay Burns, a professor of entrepreneurship, the students started the organization Foster the Children, which creates T-shirts from artwork produced by children in foster care. The proceeds from the T-shirts are then used to support the children in their education and future. Foster the Children has sold 75 shirts.
“One of the problems with kids in foster care is they are really depressed,” Hirst said. “Our proceeds go towards educational opportunities for them. We wanted to raise awareness and help in any way possible to make an impact for these children.”
Foster the Children is currently partnering with the Utah Foster Care Foundation and First Star Academy to help those in foster care. Sandi Pershing, assistant vice president for engagement at the U, and Troy D’Ambrosio, the director of the Lassonde Institute, are on the University of Utah First Star Committee that works with Foster the Children.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2017 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.