Foster Club Spotlight – Challenge for Charity (C4C)

Challenge for Charity (C4C) is a 501c3 non-profit organization and the only club at Foster that every student is automatically a member of! Started at Stanford 40 years ago, C4C draws on the talents, energy, and resources of our students to support three core charities, the Special Olympics of WA, Boys & Girls Club of King County, and the University District Food Bank, in addition to many other charities. The purpose of the organization is to develop business leaders with a lifelong commitment to community involvement and social responsibility. This club also competes with five other West Coast business schools to see who can do the most in their communities and ends the year with a friendly Sports Weekend event in California.

In this feature, the ex President of C4C Cynthia Cocca, Full-time MBA class of 2023, shares her experiences, lessons learned, and tips for incoming MBAs. 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Before coming to Foster, I was a quality engineer working in the defense industry. Post-Foster, I am excited to say I will be working as a product manager at HP Inc. In my free time, I am a huge outdoor sports lover and spend a lot of time hiking, kayaking, skiing, paddleboarding and rock climbing, among other things. I also love to travel and love spending time with my husband, two dogs and our cat!

What unique role does your club play in promoting students’ goals at Foster?

C4C plays a huge role in the Foster experience as we hold the most group events of any club. Starting in orientation, we host the fall day of service where more than 50 students participate in a volunteer event and we continue to offer group volunteering events throughout the year. This is a great way for new students to meet their classmates and start to get involved in the Seattle community. We hold many fun fundraising events like the yearly 5K and ugly sweater TG party which brings together the Foster community. We also offer one of the only opportunities to network and meet with MBA students at other top schools at our yearly Sports Weekend event. Finally, we are proud to say that this past year we raised over $125K at our C4C auction. This entirely student-run affair is our largest event each year with all proceeds directly benefiting our three core charities.

How has C4C influenced the continued evolution of the Foster MBA program?

C4C really aligns with the values of the Foster School of Business and represents the type of people who choose to go to Foster. Every year we have students that are so passionate about C4C, and it shows, considering we currently have a 5 -win streak over the other participating schools. It is our passion for community, sustainability, and emphasis on empathy that really shows in the club and in the program as a whole.

Which C4C events have been most popular or successful and why?

The most popular event is typically our fall day of service. This is generally the first large-scale event of the year and highly attended by our 1st year students who value this as a way to get to know each other, and meet 2nd year students in the program. Our yearly student-run auction is our most successful event of the year. 

What have you learned about leadership as the president of C4C?

This club really let me flex my leadership skills since we are the largest and most complicated student-run organization at Foster. I really learned how to manage a large team, conflicting opinions, and how to influence others. 

Do you have a favorite memory of your time with C4C?

My favorite memory was attending Sports Weekend both years. It was so fun getting to go on a trip with my classmates, play sports together and meet MBA students at other schools.

How have you worked with other clubs or UW Graduate Schools to provide networking opportunities?

Every year we participate in Sports Weekend which gets together students from UW, UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, UCI, and Stanford for a weekend of friendly sports competition and socializing. We also partner with many other clubs to put on volunteering and fundraising events that are aligned with the other clubs’ missions. In the past we have partnered with Net Impact, the Healthcare and Biotech Association, Diversity in Business, OSIC, WiB, and OIB among others.

Why do/should students join C4C? 

Everyone is automatically a member in C4C, but I highly encourage all students to get involved. This is a great way to meet new people, give back to our wonderful community, explore local non-profit organizations, see new areas of Seattle, and help UW beat the other schools for the Golden Briefcase.

What tips do you have for incoming MBA students thinking of joining C4C leadership positions?

If you are interested in helping out the community in any way, you should become a C4C leader! This is a HUGE organization and there are so many ways to help out depending on your passions. I found C4C to be a great way to get a break from homework and school related activities while still doing something meaningful.