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May Week Alternative blossoms

More than 300 Cambridge students have raised £90,000 this year for May Week Alternative (MWA), the charitable initiative founded by Trinity student George Rosenfeld.

MWA founder George Rosenfeld

MWA encourages students to adopt a deliberately positive approach to giving by putting charity at the heart of their May Week, explains George. Students are invited to make a significant donation to charity which is doubled through matched funding. Each May Week, MWA hosts a party to celebrate the end of exams as well as the collective impact of everyone who has joined.

Today, over 500 people have joined MWA, together raising over £140,000 for the Against Malaria Foundation, and protecting more than 160,000 people against the disease. The deadline for giving this year is Sunday 1 March.

Dr Glen Rangwala, George’s Director of Studies, and Admissions Tutor at Trinity, said:

This is an incredible achievement by George and all those students who have joined MWA. It’s heartening and impressive that Cambridge students are willing to give, and indicative that this movement is changing attitudes to philanthropy.

George, who is studying Human, Social and Political Science, admits to surprise at how the initiative he founded in 2018 has taken off. In its first year, 35 students came to MWA’s Summer Party. This summer at least ten times that number will attend the celebratory event, which is supported by local businesses and Cambridge Colleges, so that 100% of student donations go directly to charity.

‘It’s so inspiring to see how many students have decided to put giving at the centre of their May Week celebrations, very often making the most significant donation of their lives,’ says George. ‘With such widespread enthusiasm, it’s exciting to see where MWA will go next!’

MWA Committee 2020

While students can choose any charity, most of the money goes towards the Against Malaria Foundation, which is independently rated one of the most cost effective charities in the world.

Malaria causes more than 400,000 preventable deaths a year, and AMF provides life-saving bed nets in the fight to reduce this number. Spent in this way, MWA’s recommended donation of £150 – the approximate cost of a May Ball ticket – when match funded can help protect 350 people from malaria.

Aside from raising money for charity, MWA has a further goal.

‘We want to change the way students think about giving, reframing it from a guilt-laced moral obligation to a positive and rewarding experience which can be actively embraced,’ says George.

The aim is not only to enable students to have an incredible impact through their May Week celebrations, but also to foster a culture of giving within the university more broadly, and to provide students with a positive framework to take charity forwards in a meaningful way into their future lives.

Find out more about May Week Alternative.

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