EdTerp Student and Team Awarded $2,500 at UMD’s Do Good Challenge

College of Education doctoral student Ebenezer Mensah (front left) leads nonprofit True Community's efforts to provide first aid and CPR training in Ghana.

A College of Education doctoral student was part of a team that won one of the top honors in the University of Maryland’s annual Do Good Challenge on April 30.

Ebenezer Kobina Mensah, a student in the higher education, student affairs and international education policy Ph.D. program, student affairs concentration, and Luke T. Kues M.P.H. ’24, earned second place in the venture-based track of the competition. They were awarded $2,500 to support their nonprofit organization, True Community.

Founded by Kues in 2021, True Community provides cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid training domestically and globally to expand access to lifesaving skills and boost health literacy in marginalized communities, where cardiac incidents are far more likely to end in death than in predominantly white communities. True Community has facilitated more than 10,000 CPR and other certifications in 18 major U.S. cities and 2 major cities in Ghana.

Members of True Community (including College of Education doctoral student Ebenezer Mensah, far right) and Institute for Educational Planning and Administration at the University of Cape Coast signed a memorandum of understanding to expand access to first aid and CPR skills in Ghana.
Representatives from True Community and IEPA sign a memorandum of understanding in Ghana. From left to right: Nnamdi Anene (True Community), Alberta Owusu (IEPA-UCC), Alfred Ampah-Mensah (IEPA), Luke T. Kues (True Community), Michael Boakye-Yiadom  (IEPA-UCC) and Ebenezer Kobina Mensah (True Community). Photo courtesy True Community/IEPA-UCC

In summer 2023, True Community staff traveled to Ghana to provide free first aid and CPR training to more than 1,000 people. They signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute for Educational Planning and Administration at the University of Cape Coast (IEPA-UCC) to create an in-country partnership to expand access to these skills. They also established two training centers in Accra and Cape Coast, where Ghanaian instructors continue this work year-round.

Mensah, an international student from Ghana, leads True Community’s efforts in his home country as chairman of the organization’s Black Stars Wellness Initiative. This initiative aims to extend True Community’s global impact, with a specific focus on establishing multiple training centers across Ghana within the next five years. The organization plans to use the funding from the Do Good Challenge award to help establish a third training center, Kumasi Do Good Training Center, in Ghana this summer.

“I am honored; this [award] really means a lot to me,” said Mensah, who also serves as an instructor trainer with True Community. “This is a life-changing opportunity–not for me–but for marginalized communities. [The Do Good Challenge] is a step towards expanding what we are doing and ensuring that these communities have access to lifesaving skills.”

During their presentation at the Do Good Challenge event, Mensah and Kues explained that four out of five deaths from cardiovascular disease occur in developing countries and that less than 1% of the population in Ghana is trained in first aid or CPR. “The time for action is now,” Mensah told the judges.

“It’s been great to see peoples’ lives being impacted,” said Founder and Executive Director Kues. “Already, we've gotten feedback from those 1,000 people [we trained in Ghana] that we've been able to save nine lives as a result.”

“The most important thing for us is saving lives,” Mensah said.

The True Community team was one of six finalists that pitched their ventures and projects to a panel of expert judges for the chance to win a share of more than $20,000. The teams competed in one of two tracks: the venture-based track, which featured student-created social enterprises and nonprofits focused on making a social impact, and the project-based track, where teams concentrated on maximizing impact for an existing cause or organization.

Top photo:  Ebenezer Kobina Mensah (front left) and Luke T. Kues (front center) with students from Royal Achievers International School in Cape Coast, Ghana, during a first aid/CPR training in summer 2023. Photo courtesy True Community