Mobilize for Good
Partnering with Alumni to Give Back to Schools
How does a university committed to social change celebrate its 50th anniversary? By taking its mission even further and making an even bigger difference in communities—regardless of any roadblocks. Initiated at the beginning of 2020, Mobilize for Good is bringing Education for Good™ to the people and places that need it most.
“Walden has been mobilizing for good from day one,” Walden University CEO Paula Singer says. “Our 50th anniversary provided an opportunity to put a fine point on the energy and commitment the Walden University family has to this core value.”
The Mobilize for Good team made plans to travel across the U.S. in an RV and coordinate volunteer projects to help Walden alumni give back to the elementary, middle, and high schools that inspire them. A complex task, but one for which Walden was prepared.
“We have many great teams who are out in the field all the time,” Walden University President Ward Ulmer says. “We have the relationships and connections across the globe because of our alumni network, our strategic alliance team, our residencies team, and our faculty and staff.”
On the Road
The first Mobilize for Good stop was in February in Tampa, Florida. Alumni gave back to their community through projects benefiting three schools. It was a huge success.
At Earl J. Lennard High School, alumna Katie Patel ’17, Master of Science in Nursing, followed her passion for increasing the availability of lifesaving medical equipment in schools. Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in student athletes. Walden helped Patel donate five automated external defibrillators to Lennard High School and joined forces with her to provide CPR training to the school and the district’s teachers and coaching staff.
“It gives a level of comfort to the players, the parents, the staff, and hopefully the community as a whole,” Patel says of her and Walden’s efforts.
The next stop was Howard Blake High School, where alumna Tanya Batchelor Judge ’11, MS in Education, pursued her mission of increasing representation among educators.
“Think about how many minority educators you’ve had since kindergarten,” Judge says. “The students that need the most need people who look like them to teach them.”
Walden provided resources and funds to the Urban Teaching Academy (UTA) at Blake High School and hosted a community event at the school to bring awareness to the UTA.
Finally, Mobilize for Good headed to Reddick Elementary, where Tennith Scott ’19, MS in Education, teaches third grade. Inspired by Scott’s dedication to providing students with the greatest opportunity to learn, Walden helped her transform her school’s outdoor space into a beautiful interactive learning and play area.
“Words cannot express how grateful I am for all of you,” Scott told her students.
For their part, the Walden team was grateful for the opportunity to help alumni make a difference in their community—and thrilled that the events went so well.
But before the RV could get on the road again, the world changed.
Driving Social Change in a Changed World
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel was no longer an option. The schools Mobilize for Good planned to help sent their students and teachers home, and everyone entered a new and restrictive reality.
“But we didn’t stop what we were doing,” Ulmer says. “Because of who the university is, we just pivoted.”
The university and its alumni refocused Mobilize for Good on the pressing needs of schools and students scrambling to adopt online learning. Walden quickly embraced the change in plans. After all, Singer says, “The need for acts of good was reinforced as we all faced this new challenge.”
While Mobilize for Good was not scheduled to travel to Baltimore so soon, an urgent need arose and the Walden community responded.
Gwynns Falls Elementary and Beechfield Elementary/Middle School reached out to alumna and Walden staffer Val Taylor ’18, MS in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, who leads Walden’s social change efforts in Maryland. Both schools faced similar challenges: Students who relied on free or subsidized school meals were struggling to get food, and many students lacked the internet-enabled technology they needed to keep up with their coursework from home.
Taylor swung into action. She connected with the Mobilize for Good team and then personally sourced and assembled 80 backpacks of food and hygiene products, which were delivered to students in need. After that, she sourced and, with Mobilize for Good funding, bought 650 Amazon Fire and Acer tablets, which were also donated to students.
Taylor says she loves the opportunity to do good through Walden. “I get to put a smile on someone’s face,” she says. “I get to change how things would have gone.”
And the Mobilize for Good team wasn’t done. They also partnered with Improving Education, a Baltimore nonprofit, to distribute 300 Learning in a Box kits to parents of kindergarten through second grade students in six Baltimore City schools. The kits included tools for learning and additional items based on each student’s grade level.
“The need shifted, and we adapted to it,” Ulmer says of the Baltimore efforts.
Thanks to that move, hundreds of Baltimore students were able to continue learning during an exceptionally challenging time.
Continuing to Mobilize for Good
Mobilize for Good has continued to support the work Walden alumni are doing across the U.S. The pandemic has changed many things—but not Walden’s commitment to community and helping others.
“You’re seeing people know there are more important things in life,” Ulmer says. “What I would like to see come from [Mobilize for Good] is that individuals start to realize, ‘You know what? I can do more.’”