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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students found nonprofit Futurevia to fundraise for schools in Ukraine

Futurevia plans to raise money for two schools in Chernihiv that were directly impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.

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Student-founded organization Futurevia is a new nonprofit that aims to support schools affected by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The organization has selected two schools in Chernihiv that were directly impacted by the conflict to work with.

Futurevia’s founder, Oleksandr Zavalov ’26, said the group chose to concentrate on Chernihiv because the city has been heavily bombarded by Russian missiles. Because many of the schools in the city are underfunded, they can not currently afford to properly rebuild. He added that the group may also expand into assisting school children by distributing resources, such as school supplies and presents during Christmas or New Years. 

“We will help them buy furniture for the schools and eventually help to rebuild the schools once we raise sufficient funds,” Zavalov said. 

Jeffrey Morris ’75 and Ukrainian parliament member Victoria M. Voytsitska are also involved in the nonprofit. Voytsitska is Futurevia’s contact in Ukraine for distributing funds, and Morris is a Dartmouth alumnus from Wisconsin who donated to the nonprofit while also giving feedback and various other contacts. 

In terms of how Futurevia is raising funds and gathering resources, Jack Grodnick ’26, who volunteers for Futurevia, said the group is in contact with an alumnus who works at a Ukrainian nonprofit and has connections to corporations such as Google.

“We’re hoping to work with Google and hopefully get them to distribute computers to Ukrainian schools,” Grodnick said. 

He added that Futurevia has also set up social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, while also posting flyers around campus with QR codes linking to different avenues to donate, including PayPal, Venmo, and a Gofundme. Grodnick said they have raised about $5,000 since last month through alumni donations and community outreach. 

Both Zavalov and associate professor of Russian Victoria Somoff, the organization’s faculty advisor, emphasized their personal ties to the conflict in Ukraine and its intense impact on their friends and families as their motivations for being involved. 

“I was born and grew up in Ukraine. I left Ukraine as a refugee in the late 1990s,” Somoff said. “This war affects me deeply. And any effort, any attempt to ease the suffering of the Ukrainian people, I certainly welcome and am happy to support.” 

In the same vein, Zavalov added that because of his ties to Ukraine, he wanted to assist those in the country who are suffering.

“I'm actually from Kyiv, Ukraine and so I wanted to help people in my home country and especially kids who are suffering from this,” Zavalov said. “And a lot of schools were destroyed because of the war, or ruined or demolished or harmed in some ways.” 

Grodnick said he was inspired by Zavalov’s commitment to the cause. 

“I realized how passionate and hardworking [Zavalov] is. And then I was learning about how he took a gap year in Ukraine to help out with what’s happening. And so he told me about this project and I was like, well, it’d be cool if I can get involved because I definitely would like to help in Ukraine and do what I can do,” Grodnick said. 

Danylo Borodchuk ’26, a Ukrainian student and member of the Dartmouth Student Alliance for Ukraine, said he believes that supporting schools is an important mission.

“They were built [when] the USSR existed, and they still exist to this day. And they’re barely alright and so the problem with that is whenever missiles strike nearby, all the windows in the school break,” he said. “Since it’s underfunded, who’s going to put the windows back?”

Somoff added that it will be important for Futurevia to be engaged with campus, such as through working with the Dartmouth Student Alliance for Ukraine. 

In the future, Zavalov said he hopes to expand Futurevia to other universities to increase support for the cause. 

Borodchuk said that he is hopeful that students will stay engaged supporting people in Ukraine. 

“In the U.S., especially here at Dartmouth, I’ve seen quite a few Ukraine flags. There’s all this support for Ukraine,” he said.“And I think if we turned all this attention into a fundraising event, I think that’d be good.”

Somoff added that academic departments — particularly the former Russian studies department — have also shifted in response to the war in Ukraine. 

“For many people in the Western world, Russia was kind of looming large,” Somoff said. “And it seems that departments have some responsibilities … the teaching of Russian national literature, culture and language exclusively … has to change.”

Ultimately, Somoff emphasized the need for a dual approach towards supporting Ukraine — including both “abstract academic” and “humanitarian” goals.

“There is not necessarily a clash between humanitarian goals and academic goals. For students who choose to engage with Futurevia or the Ukrainian group here on campus, they’re also learning,” she says. “It’s not just our minds that are engaged, but also our hearts.”