Mark Dlugash ’08 recently received a Seth Green Social Entrepreneurship Grant from Americans for Informed Democracy, a non-profit that focuses on promoting youth and especially student advocacy. He will use the grant to spread the anti-malaria campaign he ran at Swarthmore to more college campuses.
It’s appropriate that Dlugash received a grant from Americans for Informed Democracy–he first found out about the extent of the malaria problem when he went to their conference on malaria in January 2007, an event he described as a “catalyst” which inspired him to found the Global Health Forum and run an anti-malaria campaign at Swarthmore, raising $7500 to purchase bed nets for people in Uganda.
Dlugash was originally expecting to be in Uganda at this point in the year in order to check on the bed net program mentioned above, producing a report for Against Malaria!, the organization that provided him with cheap bed nets, but “I found out about a week ago that I won this fellowship… it was sort of a shot in the dark, but this is going to help us a lot and I’m really happy about this.” The grant from Americans for Informed Democracy will add to a Project Pericles grant which Dlugash’s project received last year.
As part of the Fellowship, Dlugash will spend October being trained by Americans for Informed Democracy and meeting Congress people and Public Health leaders. He’s also been paired with a mentor, Bill Drayton, a noted social entrepreneur who founded the social entrepreneurship network Ashoka.
With the training, money, and connections provided by the Fellowship, Dlugash hopes to spread his campaign to 100 campuses over the next five years, each of which would ideally raise an average of $7500 just like Swarthmore–“if it works, that would be $750,000, and since bed nets are five dollars each, that would be 150,000 bed nets.” Right now Dlugash is “working on putting contacts together… once we’ve done it a few times it will be easier.”
Dlugash explains that he continues to focus on malaria because “it would be easy to eradicate with the resources we have now… we have the money and knowledge, right now what is happening is a failure in dissemination.” As for his project, “I want it to be generative… if we’re organized and efficient, I think it will be self-sustaining.”
Dlugash, who stated repeatedly during the interview that “I wish I were in Africa right now!” will leave for Uganda in January to check up on the bed net program. After that, he plans to spend time at an orphanage in Tanzania and doing research on HIV/AIDS effected youth populations in Ethiopia.
Today Dlugash will be attending the Social Innovators gala put on by the Americans for Informed Democracy in New York City to receive his award; as for the future, Dlugash says he is “open to all sorts of things” but will definitely continue being involved with malaria and issues of global health. “I especially want to work on issues of dissemination… my senior thesis was on that, how we get our knowledge and resources to the people who need it.”