What does a college kid do with their summer? Some might get ahead on coursework with a summer class, while most probably want to lay by the pool with their friends. But for Alex Quian and Brady Boyd, their time was being spent elsewhere—volunteering every day of July for their organization 30 Days of Service.
Their dedication to service was made possible through the support of their advisory board. Members include Dolf Berle, CEO of Topgolf International; Nakia Douglas, Executive Director of UNT Dallas; and Zoya Jackson of Minnie’s Food Pantry. Through their connections, the young men were able to serve all around North Texas.
Rising to the challenge
30 Days of Service was born through SMU’s “Emerging Leaders” program. It was there that the students were challenged by their mentor, Greg Weatherford II, to make the most of their summer break—not by binge watching as many TV shows as possible, but by focusing on personal and professional growth. Another key component of the challenge was to go beyond doing something that was self-serving, but that would serve others.
Once the idea for 30 Days of Service moved from concept to concrete, it was time for Alex and Brady to make it happen. That’s where their advisory board comes in.
“They started planning this in late April, so they had less than three months to get this off the ground,” Greg Weatherford, who is also a member of the advisory board, told Dallas Innovates. “I told [Alex and Brady] it would probably be beneficial for them to bring a group of experts together, who have done big things, and have done those things in some of the areas of this project.”
Their advisory members have opened doors for the young men to help lessen food insecurity, provide assistance to homeless people, gather school supplies for HIV/AIDS impacted youth, and more. They even ran a live blog so their sponsors, followers, and donators could keep up with their daily schedule.
Alex and Brady say that their insight and connections were instrumental to their project’s success. Through their advisory board’s own service passions, the young men were able to branch out into a wide range of philanthropies.
“These advisory board members have been really tremendous in supporting us,” Alex says. “They have helped us answer the questions we have and help us navigate the space that is a little bit new to us.”
A crash-course on calling others to serve
Now that their 30 days are over, Alex and Brady want to keep the project going by inspiring other youth to seek out ways to serve their communities. They plan on doing this by releasing a how-to guide that outlines what they learned on their journey, and how other young people can do the same.
“It’s mainly just about getting the message out,” Alex told Dallas Innovates. “We do plan to give the plans for each of our 30 projects. So that way, if someone in Ohio sees one project that they really identify with personally… they can then go replicate that in their own community.”
They want to make it easy for others to make a difference in their own hometowns, without any complications. That’s another takeaway that has stuck with them—the experience has been a true crash course in how nonprofits work. It’s been especially eye-opening to Brady, who is a business student at SMU.
“They had to learn: What does it mean to file for taxes and organization at the state level?,” Greg says. “Then what does it take to open a business banking account? What documents are required for that? This really was a business masterclass for them, the service is the front end, but on the back end, there was a lot of business learning.”
Alex and Brady hope to merge their passions for business and service together in the long run. They even envision starting 30 Days of Service chapters for company employees to participate in together.
“We want everyone to serve… and [realize] that giving back is contagious,” Brady says. “Once you give back, it’s going to make other people want to give back too.”
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