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April 1, 2016

‘March Gladness’ Competition Harnesses Internet for Good

University students are competing in the “March Gladness” Internet charity fundraising competition held by the app development company Gladly. This year’s game began on March 15 and will end on April 11. The winner will get a scavenger hunt on their campus with over $1,500 in cash prizes.

Having recently beaten the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan in the first two rounds, UChicago is now in the third round and will play against Brigham Young University, which was champion last year.

“March Gladness,” a charitable homage to the NCAA basketball tournament March Madness, consists of 64 college groups on “Tab for a Cause,” an extension app on Chrome browser developed by Gladly. After installing “Tab for a Cause,” for each new tab the user opens, one “heart” is earned, which translates into donations that users can make to charity groups they choose. The team’s score is the sum of all of the hearts each team member earns. The team also receives 500 hearts for each member who joins Goodblock, another advertisement blocking extension on Chrome developed by the Gladly Company.

Second-year Christopher Walker is the representative and founder of the University of Chicago group. “I just heard about [Tab for a Cause] and started using it… And I thought I might as well share it with more people,” Walker said.

The team wins 350 hearts for each new member to join. Walker recruited friends he personally knows, who then go on to introduce more people to the project. Starting from a single person, the University group currently has 128 members. Luna Shen, a third-year who first heard about March Gladness through Walker, has now successfully invited 14 new students to the team. “It seems like a good way to help. I don’t really have to do anything except for opening tabs,” Shen said.

Walker knows many of the group members, including the member who has contributed the most hearts, only through their user names. “Sharing is the key of this game. I actually have no idea what would be the most effective tactic to win…what I’ve been doing is just to explain why it’s a good thing, and how it doesn’t really cost you anything,” Walker said.

After the tournament ends, each individual can still earn hearts to donate to charity organizations. “The chances for us to win the whole thing are relatively low, but the good thing about it is that whether you win or not, you are raising money for charity,” Walker said.

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