Students win award from United Nations for anti-poverty toolkit

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)— A group of undergraduate students at Radford University has taken it upon themselves to create an Anti-Poverty Toolkit. It’s an online resource of hundreds of materials and the research necessary to fight poverty around the world, something the anti-poverty group at the United Nations has needed for years.

“This is such an opportunity to advance the knowledge of fighting poverty in the world, we would love to do that,” said Dr. Tay Keong Tan, a political science professor at Radford University. “The world needs to come together to make sure that these people do not remain voiceless, do not remain helpless.”

About one year ago, Tan was asked by his colleagues at the United Nations to develop a way to share their educational resources to fight poverty. He gathered a group of three students who were willing to volunteer their time to help.

Emily Jenkins is a senior who is studying political science with a concentration in law, justice and society. She decided to minor in international studies and got involved with Tan’s project. She took it upon herself to learn how to build a website to make the tools accessible to everyone. Jenkins and the team have strategically sorted over 500 artifacts to be used in classrooms around the world.

“It was a long process, especially when we got to uploading the artifacts because you have to do that one by one, there’s no short way to get around doing hyperlinks and everything,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said it’s important for them to steer away from making a text book because it is difficult for students to be able to afford them. By having this information online, it would be free for anyone to access and learn from.

“Around the globe, what we’re wanting to do and liking to do is for the Anti-Poverty Toolkit to be a safe haven for professors to put their own work on there, not have to build textbooks, not have to find textbooks and have students be able to have a free access to that rather than having to dish out money,” Jenkins said.

At an October meeting in Oslo, Sweden, the students won an award from the UN for creating a website the anti-poverty team desperately needed in order to share their research.

“It was super interesting to be able to be in that room with all of those people from all over the world, and to not only just be there, but to have something to contribute because we weren’t just there to spectate, we were there to also share what we had done,” said senior Gabriel Bennett.

Bennett is studying political science with a minor in international studies. He said attending this meeting and participating in this project made him decide to continue his education on to graduate school.

Senior Haley Nunez decided to entirely change her major after starting to participate in the Anti-Poverty Toolkit. Initially, Nunez was studying to be an elementary school teacher.

“I realized before my senior year started that this is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to work in the public sector, I wanted to help people that couldn’t necessarily help themselves,” Nunez said. “Someone like me or like us, students, we actually could have an impact that could help people that didn’t have that help before.”

The plan is to use the Anti-Poverty Toolkit for educational purposes for now, and the team said they would love to see it expand. It is not live yet, but the team hopes to have it ready to go in the next six months.

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