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Daniel Bocanegra: Seeking Social Change Through "Selfless Tee"

April 26, 2010

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UAlbany MBA student Danny Bocanegra in Africa

UAlbany MBA student Daniel Bocanegra has won $50,000 through the Pepsi Refresh project to foster his company's commitment to social change.

When Daniel Bocanegra first came to UAlbany in 2005, he was interested in studying business and playing football. Recruited as a quarterback for the Great Danes football team, Bocanegra added receiving and punt return duties to his repertoire. Similarly, after getting his bachelor's degree in business administration in May of 2008, he was accepted into the MBA program at the School of Business. It was through his education that Bocanegra honed his entrepreneurship skills, although his goals went beyond business. Bocanegra sought to develop a model by which he could enact social change through his entrepreneurial endeavors. The result was Selfless Tee: a firm providing fashionable clothing that supports socially-conscious projects with its proceeds.

In his first project, Bocanegra was able to use the proceeds from sales to purchase and bring 1,000 mosquito nets to villagers in Africa. The project was so successful that Bocanegraís firm was also able to build a school and an irrigation system to provide clean water for drinking and for growing crops, which in turn could be sold, thereby providing a livelihood for an entire village.

"It was an amazing experience, I can barely put it into words," he said. "I am thankful to have a loyal community at the University at Albany who rallied behind this, and to be a student in the School of Business, which has been more than accommodating of my entrepreneurial efforts."

For his efforts, Bocanegra's company was recently awarded a $50,000 grant to extend its program through The Pepsi Refresh Project, a groundbreaking effort that funds ideas, big and small, that can refresh the world.

"We are proud of Dannyís accomplishment, which epitomizes the School of Business's commitment to social entrepreneurship," said School of Business Dean Donald Siegel.

Bocanegra plans to use the funds to complete Selfless Tee's Web site, allowing the firm to connect with socially conscious designers who want to create impact, recruit interns, and provide a diverse set of individuals dedicated to extend the programís impact beyond its initial project: providing 30,000 breakfast meals to low-income youth in the area.

UAlbany MBA student Danny Bocanegra handing out mosquito nets in Africa

Bocanegra traveled recently to Africa to hand out mosquito nets.

"Daniel is a young man with an intense belief in helping people," said UAlbany football coach Bob Ford. "He took maximum advantage of everything that a college can offer.  He scratched and battled to overcome obstacles (as a football player) and made a contribution while at the same time earning the respect of everyone on the team and the entire coaching staff."

"Danny and his idea, SelflessTee, are an inspiration to his generation," said Bill Morgan, Pepsi Beverages Company Regional Sales Director for Albany. "We are proud to support his creativity in creating an apparel company that benefits communities and social issues. SelflessTee will not only impact our community, but our world."

The Pepsi Refresh Project is an evolution of the Refresh Everything initiative Pepsi launched in 2009, which showed the brand as a catalyst for optimism.   In 2010, Pepsi is funding ideas that will move the world forward in six categories: Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods and Education.   The Pepsi Refresh Project will feature significant social engagement around people and the power of ideas. In 2010, Pepsi is awarding more than $20 million to ideas that will "move the world forward."

"I love seeing the ways that young entrepreneurs are improving the lives of others through projects like SelflessTee," said Mallika Chopra, Pepsi Refresh Project Health Ambassador. "By engaging the community to help develop products, and working with local partners on social issues in the community, this idea shows the power of one person to engage a large network for good."

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