Our History

Our initial motivation for sharing the Two Dollar Challenge with others was grounded in pure enthusiasm for raising awareness and funds for global poverty.  We wanted to empower students with the resources to make a difference.  That initial enthusiasm, over the years, has been eclipsed by our enthusiasm for the impact that the Challenge has had on our mindset.  In essence, the Challenge has transformed us.  It has made us more self-aware, more reflective, and (we believe) better and more effective global citizens

We want every student, instructor, non-profit professional, indeed, anyone who has ever considered doing something about global poverty to take the Two Dollar Challenge.

We believe the Two Dollar Challenge is a good place to begin when you want to end poverty.

Below is the story of how we got here:

During the fall semester of 2006, Dr. Shawn Humphrey from the University of Mary Washington gave the students of his Principles of Macroeconomics class a unique challenge: live on two dollars a day for a week. In the spring of 2007, that challenge became the “Two Dollar Challenge” for his Economic Development class.

In the first year, the chosen cause was microfinance, the chosen partner was Kiva, and the monetary goal was $1,000. Using the Two Dollar Challenge, this one class raised $1,600! Even today they are still extending small business loans to entrepreneurs in developing and transitioning economies (see their lender’s page). That was just the beginning. In the spring of 2008, students enrolled in Dr. Humphrey’s Economic Development class and the Economic Development Club at the University of Mary Washington partnered with Students Helping Honduras. Their shared objective was to raise the seed capital for La Ceiba; a student-led, operated and governed micro-financial institution for the communities surrounding El Progreso, Honduras. What started as a project for one class was transformed into a university-wide event. Participants from other courses and disciplines signed up to participate in the Two Dollar Challenge. Together they raised $6,750!

This was momentous. The Two Dollar Challenge had fully funded a development initiative. Not only that, this was a student-led development initiative. It empowered a group of students at a small university to begin the process of making a difference in the lives of others.  The TDC Team was inspired.  What would happen to global poverty if students at other campuses could use the Two Dollar Challenge to fund their own development initiatives? To see the impact that could be made, TDC went national in 2009.

The TDC Team started to carve out its name, presenting at the Clinton Global Initiative University (spring 2009) and founding the Poverty Action Conference. More recently, in the fall of 2010, TDC and Opportunity International were selected through a nationally competitive application process as a “Top 10” program by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy. And, once again, the TDC team was invited to participate in CGIU 2011 and 2012.