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Students’ School Assignment Evolves Into COVID-19 Relief Effort

Students’ School Assignment Evolves Into COVID-19 Relief Effort

Rumson Country Day School fifth-graders Andrew Rodrigues and Michael Malia seek fulfillment doing what they love – building websites, playing sports and helping others. When the two aspiring entrepreneurs were challenged to explore their passions through a school assignment called Genius Hour, they leapt at the opportunity to work together. They never expected that their collaboration would evolve into a pandemic relief effort.

“We’re friends which helps,” 11-year-old Andrew described their successful partnership. “But we’re also both very determined and organized.”

Tasked with conceptualizing, researching, planning, and executing their own business plan, Andrew and Michael were eager to introduce a “How To” video series that married their sharp technology skills with their passion for sports. Over the course of the school year, they participated in student led-pitches that inspired them to sell branded “How To” merchandise through a website that they designed themselves.

As the COVID-19 crisis escalated, Andrew and Michael decided to donate their profits, totaling over $400, to pandemic relief.

“When we first started, we were helping people by teaching them skills through our ‘How To’ videos,” said Michael. “As we learned more about what was going on in the world, we wanted to help others on a bigger scale. What better way than to donate the money we’ve been making?”

Projects like Genius Hour provide students with an opportunity to develop life-long skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and perseverance. Guided by the school’s four pillars – Kind, Honest, Responsible, Respectful – RCDS students like Andrew and Michael are regularly recognized for their strength of character in addition to their academic achievements.  

Now, Andrew and Michael are donating 100% of every “How To” branded merchandise sale to COVID-19 relief. They hope to progress their business by eventually using advertisements and search engine optimization to increase traffic to their website.

“We don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” Andrew proclaimed.

You can visit Andrew and Michael’s website at

  • Community Service