Greater Than the Sum of its Parts: UC Davis Blum Center Forms Partnership for Social Good

tech for social good banner

   The UC Davis Blum Center has in its core mission to engage faculty and students in finding sustainable solutions that have a lasting and tangible impact on people living under unprivileged circumstances.  

             In order to capitalize on its objectives, in the spring of 2016 the Blum Center - UC Davis expanded its reach on campus through collaborating with UCD CITRIS, the Center for Regional Change, and the Institute for Social Sciences. Together, the Centers co-sponsored the Tech for Social Good competition: a campus-wide grants contest open to UC Davis students and faculty. At the nexus of technology and social change, the competition provided grant awards to projects that utilized technology to address societal problems or generate positive social change.

            Integral to the establishment of Tech for Social Good was a strong desire to support collaboration at UC Davis. Though it was ultimately a competition, Tech for Social Good was conceived as a means to foster engagement and collaboration among the campus centers and between the STEM and non-STEM communities at UC Davis. This commitment to collaboration among different entities was evident throughout the entire process of the contest.

As part of the launch of Tech for Social Good, the participating centers hosted a networking mixer on May 28th for prospective applicants. At the mixer, interested applicants provided a brief summary of their projects and afterwards time was set aside for mingling and forming potential partnerships in anticipation of submitting proposals for the competition.

Following the contest deadline, the centers worked in tandem to award funds to the top proposals. The decision making process was iterative and involved active discussion among representatives from each of the centers. The judges mainly focused on choosing proposals that were well organized and showed high quality. The sponsoring Centers wanted to award a diverse range of projects.

            In all, the Tech for Social Good contest awarded $20,000 in grant funds to five projects. The winning projects were diverse in their reach covering various fields, from health to education. As CITRIS Program Director Dr. Brandie Nonnecke sees it, she “couldn’t be happier with what happened” as a result of Tech for Social Good and plans to open the competition to more student activities and encourage more centers to become sponsors next year.

            For the Blum Center Faculty Director, Professor Lovell (Tu) Jarvis, “Tech for Social Good was an ideal opportunity to further its mission of forming partnerships to generate sustainable solutions. Working with the other 3 campus Centers was a very pleasant and successful initiative. The Blum Center is committed to joining efforts for the second edition of this program in 2017.”

           The success of Tech for Social Good ultimately serves as a testament to what can be achieved through collaboration. The beauty of such an initiative is how it utilizes pooling and collaboration to turn the investments from each center into a collective resource that can have greater impact.

The 2016 Tech for Social Good Winners:

  • Building BAB – Money Transfer for South Sudanese Youth Entrepreneurship

Christian Doll, Ty Beal, Sophie Ellerby, and Prof. James Smith

  • MomKit

Anna Sadovnikova, Anita Gunaseelan, Angela Nguyen, and Dr. Shadi Aminololama-Shakeri

  • UV-Based Water Purification System

Shiyun Yao, Jillian Holloway, Vanessa Wai, Xijia Li, and Prof. Bassam Younis

  • Our Changing Climate

Prof. Nina Napawan, Prof. Brett Snyder, Prof. Sheryl-Ann Simpson, and Diego Verduzco

  • The Quadriplegic-Friendly Tricycle

Aaron Shaw, Vivian Lin, Andy Wu, and Dr. Jason Moore

To learn more about the projects awarded by Tech for Social Good visit or contact Program Director, Brandie Nonnecke at

Interested in learning more about the Blum Center? Visit our website at or email us at You can also learn about past grantees and their projects by visiting our blog at or find us on Facebook at UCDavisBlumCenter.