Kauffman Entrepreneurial Fellow Rebecca Landzberg is spending her fifth year at UR trying to bring change to one of the parts of Rochester in the most need — the PLEX area of the 19th Ward.
Landzberg is doing this through a program that she brought to the University called the $100 Solution, in which a needed service is brought to the community with a budget of just $100. She emphasized that, although $100 may not immediately seem like much money, there are definite advantages to working with this limited budget on each project.
“With $100, [community members] just started throwing out ideas — they all worked together to create change,” Landzberg said.
Currently, Landzberg is working with the UR Roteract organization on her first $100 Solution project in Rochester. At the end of January, the group will be bringing a health fair to the PLEX area, which will educate the public about major health concerns. The event will feature tabling by local doctors and a health-related speech every half-hour.
The idea for the health fair — as with all $100 Solution projects — was generated by the community. The process started with Landzberg and an adviser holding meetings with the community to discuss the major concerns that residents would like to see addressed. The community members then put together a list of projects, which UR Rotaract will look to accomplish one at a time. Every time an item on the list is completed, members of UR Rotaract will reflect on the project to determine how it can be improved and sustained, then move on to the next $100 Solution on the list.
In addition to the health fair, Landzberg has organized for Dr. Bernard Strenecky, creator of the $100 Solution and Warner School of Education alumnus, to make a visit to the University to discuss the program and the general importance of helping those in need. The talk will be held Thusday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. in Hoyt Auditorium.
Landzberg got involved with the program while taking a course on service learning with Strenecky during her study abroad program through Semester at Sea. As a part of the course, students would carry out a $100 Solution project in every country at which the Semester at Sea ship stopped, and it was on one such stop that the program took on a new role in Landzberg’s life.
In Vietnam, a project took place at an impoverished elementary school where students were frequently absent because the unsanitary drinking water was causing disease. The solution — Landzberg worked with Strenecky to provide a sustainable water filter for the school.
“It’s one thing to learn all about [the $100 Solution]. It’s a very academic program,” Landzberg said. “It’s another thing to actually go out and do it and see the impact.”
By the end of next semester, Landzberg aims to have fully educated a few members of UR Rotaract in the $100 Solution. She is optimistic that, in doing this, she will be able to ensure that there is future leadership for the program in years to come.
Looking to the more distant future, Landzberg hopes that the presence of the $100 Solution will continue to grow, both on and off campus
“I hope that more people become involved, and that they gain interest in helping the PLEX area, because there’s a lot of potential there,” she said. “We could do a lot to help the relations between residents and the University.”