STUDENTS TAKE A STAND Website offers a way to pay it forward

By: KIRSTEN GILBERT-Staff Writer

University of Dayton alumni Sean Johnson and Andy Hill created their company, Stand 4, last fall. Their website hosts projects to help ordinary people become heroes by simply taking a stand.

“The idea is to let people donate to great causes without having to spend any money . . . essentially the opposite of the Sarah McLachlan commercials,” said Johnson, who graduated from UD in 2012.

Stand 4, a company with eight employees, connects with big companies looking to donate money for good causes. They essentially become the middleman, ushering those donations to non-profits in need.

The idea is for people to decide where the money goes. Projects are elected by their team and each time someone “takes a stand” by simply visiting the website and clicking “I stand,” money is sent toward that individual project. For example, one stand can mean clean drinking water for a child in Africa for an entire year. On average, the website sees 3,500 visitors a week, Johnson said.

Two members of the Stand 4 team are current students at UD.

Davis Arnold, a junior communications major, is the self-titled “unofficial community spokesman” for UD. He was challenged to build community through Stand 4.

“Last December, right in the middle of the prime finals chaos, Sean approached me about joining the team as an internship opportunity and helping spread the word about the company and their goals,” Arnold said.

Ian Sauer, a senior applied mathematical economics major, reaches out to local area non-profit organizations that would like to partner with Stand 4. Both Arnold and Sauer host presentations on campus and for UD fraternities and sororities, hyping up students about becoming heroes by making the company a part of their service activities.

“Our first project, The Clean Water Project, opened on Jan. 16 and was only open for 15 days. We reached our goal of providing 500 children with clean drinking water for a year. As this was our first project it was self-funded, in the hopes of proving to other companies the reality of our success,” Sauer said.

Students can click on one of the five projects on the website to see what’s ongoing, Johnson said. Capital for a Farmer is one project, which grows farm reach by one serving for small farmers each time a stand is taken, he said.

The Living Right Award is another project where one stand provides one minute of exhilaration for people with disabilities to pursue their outdoor adventures, Johnson said.

“We basically have verticals that we are working, they are: Agriculture, Education, Earth, Safety, Wildlife, Economy, Community, Water, Health and Shelter,” Johnson said. Each section focuses on different areas of life that could use donations. “We are hoping to scale-up enough to be able to host at least 20 projects at a time on our website.”

The University of Dayton was plastered across social media this March due to the NCAA tournament, and Stand 4 joined in the madness. Feed a Flyer was a project that opened in mid-February and closed at the end of the NCAA championships, Sauer said. For each person that clicked their link this past March, taking a stand as a fan of the Dayton Flyers, Stand 4 donated a meal to a local person in need through the Dayton non-profit company, Homeful.

“We thought that we would get 300 to 400 people to stand for it, but Dayton kind of took it by storm. In the end we had 3,025 stands just for the Feed a Flyer project, which allowed us to fund 3,025 meals for the homeless in Dayton,” Johnson said.

“When the end goal does so much good, this job becomes addictive, especially when you see 3,000 people sign up in just one week,” Arnold said. “When working for a project like that you just carry that momentum and it helps fuel the energy that we put into it.”

The Stand 4 team said they are appreciative of the UD community. To get involved and Take a Stand, visit Stand4.com to get started.