Each year at Impact Entrepreneurs’ Elevating Impact Summit, we celebrate social impact in many forms, from new social ventures to proven approaches to addressing social and environmental problems. In 2014, we’re pleased to bring back the Pitch Fest and the Impact Awards. Nominations for the Impact Awards and applications for the Pitch Fest are now open to the public. Read on to learn more, and please join us on June 20 at the Gerding Theater in Portland, Oregon for the Pitch Fest, Impact Award announcements, speakers, panels, and stories celebrating social innovators of all ages and fields.
Social Entrepreneurs: Apply to Pitch at Elevating Impact 2014
On the morning of June 20, the Elevating Impact Pitch Fest will showcase Portland’s latest and greatest. If you are a student, professional, or social entrepreneur from any background, and have an early-stage social venture that you’re passionate about, apply now to pitch your concept.
If selected to pitch, you will present your idea to a panel of experts and an audience of more than 400 enthusiastic peers. You will receive personalized feedback from impact investors, meet and mingle with other like-minded social entrepreneurs, and may link up with the partner, employee, resource, or organization you’ve been searching for to advance your work. Make the Elevating Impact Summit a stage for yourself and for your vision, and a take advantage of this chance to share your story with a strategic and supportive community.
Thanks to our sponsor Immix Law Group, the Pitch Fest participant with the most audience votes will receive $1,500 cash and $1,000 of in-kind legal support. The runner-up will also receive $1,000 of in-kind legal support.
Applicants must: be registered for the Elevating Impact Summit; be using an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to address a social or environmental problem; submit a two-minute, non-professional video pitching their idea; and apply by May 1.
2014 Impact Awards Call for Nominations
As part of the Elevating Impact Summit, the Impact Awards recognize the achievements of remarkable changemakers and teams who are using entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial approaches to generate positive social and environmental impact. Impact Award winners act boldly to implement programs or ventures that demonstrate innovation and lasting impact.
This year, awards will be given for outstanding impact in the following categories: Campus Innovation; Impact Intrapreneurship; and Impact Entrepreneurship. To submit a nomination for an individual, a team, or yourself, please follow the link below and carefully review the additional detail on selection criteria for each award category.
The Ashoka U Exchange, affiliated with the global Ashoka network for social entrepreneurs, is a yearly conference of colleges and universities teaching social innovation. From “Changemaker Campuses” (such as Portland State University) already recognized for their efforts in the field to those just beginning to incorporate social innovation into the curriculum, the aptly-named Exchange offers just that: a way to exchange best practices and new approaches. This year marked the release of Trends in Social Innovation Education, featuring the results of a comprehensive global survey and thought-leadership pieces by authors including our own Director, Cindy Cooper. I recently returned from the conference, held in Providence, Rhode Island and Brown University, where I was struck by some of the emerging trends in the field.
Social Innovation education has exploded in popularity, with the number of offerings nearly tripling in the past five years, from almost 200 to nearly 600 worldwide. Much of this growth has been driven by student demand in programs that support their desire to make a positive impact on the world and enter careers that will allow them to do the same. The quick expansion of the field means that most universities are still developing their strategy, experimenting with different approaches, and working to identify appropriate learning outcomes.
Despite the popularity of social innovation programs among students, funding for these programs has lagged. A lack of funding was identified as the largest single challenge facing universities in this field, and anecdotal conversations at the Exchange confirmed this. Public universities and small private colleges struggle to secure endowments or grants for their work. At Portland State University, some of our programs utilize an earned-revenue strategy that enables them to be self funded, but this is relatively uncommon.
The term “social innovation” spans a vast array of approaches, from sustainability to social justice to service learning, but is linked by an emphasis on transformative innovation. Social entrepreneurship is an emerging pathway to social innovation based largely out of business schools, where tools such as design thinking, the Business Model Canvas, and the Lean Launchpad are seeing widespread adoption. Recognizing the breadth of approaches to social innovation, and organizing them under terms such as “changemaking,” has better enabled interdisciplinary approaches and community collaboration.
The biggest takeaway is that social innovation is here to stay. As an organizing principle for teaching students to become leaders and innovate around ways to make a positive impact on the world, it offers a way for practitioners and educators of diverse fields to come together in our common work of creating a better future for all. As Linda Kay Klein of Echoing Green said at the Exchange, our goal is to help students do “what is right for them, good for the world, and bold.”
By Jacen Greene
Program Manager for Social Enterprise Initiatives
School of Business Administration
Portland State University
The core concept of social entrepreneurship — using business tools and approaches in nonprofit, for-profit, government and academic settings to address social and environmental problems — is rapidly gaining traction. But for everyone we meet with a great idea for a new business or program, there are many more who simply wish to lend their expertise, talent and insight to the movement. Again and again, we’re asked “How can I get involved?”
In response, we’ve put together this short guide to helping out. We left out the many crowdfunding, donation, and investment opportunities in the field to focus exclusively on platforms that enable you to offer high-level, pro bono support to social innovators around the world. After all, you don’t need a lot of time, money or ideas to change the world — just the desire to help out.
Ashoka Changemakers offers a set of social enterprise challenges and projects that link social entrepreneurs with supportive networks of partners and collaborators. The Ashoka network is one of the largest communities of social entrepreneurs in the world.
Catchafire matches skilled individuals to specific project needs posted by nonprofits and social enterprises. From finance to design to photography, the platform offers an array of pro bono consulting opportunities for professionals of every background.
Ecoapprentice, a platform based out of Portland, Oregon, enables students and professionals to work on real-world environmental challenges posted by local organizations. Individuals or teams with the best proposed solution for each challenge receive a cash prize.
OpenIDEO is a list of social challenges curated by IDEO, the design firm responsible for popularizing design thinking and developing the Human-Centered Design process. Each challenge is posted by a different organization seeking input and solutions from the general public to help guide the development of new programs and ventures.
We hope this short guide gives you a starting point to contribute your unique experience and knowledge to the field of social entrepreneurship. If you’re interested in working with us directly to mentor social entrepreneurs or help run educational events, please sign up for our quarterly email newsletter for news on openings and opportunities. Thank you, and happy helping!
Some say that storytelling is an ancient art. But at PSU we think it’s timeless. Advancing technologies, evolving communication tools, and expanding global communities make it possible to tell stories in new ways.
PSU was selected to be a part of the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus consortium, a select group of institutions of higher education that demonstrate commitment and cutting-edge approaches to galvanizing solutions to major human and environmental challenges. Driven in part by the designation as a Changemaker Campus, and in part by the stories that were at our fingertips, a PSU collaboration emerged that set out to use the power of storytelling to inspire, educate, and encourage everyone to be an agent of positive social change.
Here are the stories of PSU changemakers. Learn about other PSU changemakers and how you can join us at http://www.pdx.edu/changemaker.
Impact Entrepreneurs and the Alumni Association at PSU share a goal of providing pathways for anyone to achieve meaningful careers that positively impact our community and the world. What better way to start working together on this than in a warm winter gathering at a local microbrewery to discuss social entrepreneurship? Last week we had the opportunity to do so, and here’s how we approached it.
1. Pick presenters with a range of experiences: Cindy Cooper has a background in corporate business and is the co-founder of Impact Entrepreneurs and the social enterprise Speak Shop. Jacen Greene has a background in business consulting and uses his talent to strengthen the impact of social entrepreneurs. Amelia Pape is a full-time social entrepreneur, running the for-profit social enterprise My Street Grocery. Justin Stanley has a family, works full time in the tech industry, and moonlights as a social entrepreneur leading the nonprofit social venture The Uprise Books Project.
2. Invite everyone: There is a time and place for selective audiences, but we find that building community is an inclusive activity. We reached an intergenerational, cross-sector group of 88 community members at the event last week, creating an atmosphere where everyone had something to learn and to offer. Attendees had heard about the event through meetup group websites, social calendars, PSU Alumni listservs, social media, and word of mouth. Everyone was invited.
3. Provide something to eat and drink, and time for it too: There’s something about food that brings people together, and that holds true even at professional events. Gathering around the cocktail table with a microbrew and a plate of delicious food is a great way to listen to a presentation. It’s also a great way to meet your next employee, co-founder, teacher, or friend. We planned a 45-minute panel followed by an hour-long casual gathering. The result was an energetic, productive and inspired party with concrete fodder for discussion; in other words, community building. A big thanks to everyone who came. We hope to see the rest of you next time.
We recently spoke with Jon-Paul Bowles about Hatch, a new community innovation lab and co-working space for Portland social entrepreneurs. Jon-Paul is working with Hatch and Springboard Innovation Founder Amy Pearl to bring the new space to life and create a system of supporting services for local social entrepreneurs.
Impact Entrepreneurs: How would you describe Hatch in a single Tweet?
Jon-Paul: Hatch: A Community Innovation Lab. An innovation generator, a place where social and local entrepreneurs create solutions. Where good works.
What role will Hatch play in the local community?
Hatch is both a place and a community. We’ve been surprised by the power of place because we’ve already seen people help each other out organically. So in one sense, it’s a place where a lot of incredibly bright, motivated social entrepreneurs work, have parties, host events, and take meetings. A beautiful co-work space. But in the deeper sense Hatch is simply a community of like-minded people who have a lot to learn from and offer each other and are passionate about using enterprise to solve big problems one small solution at a time. We have specific programs to draw community in. So a lot of different kinds of people find a home in this community. More and more every day.
What inspired founder Amy Pearl to create Hatch?
Amy has deep passion and expertise about helping create healthy local economies. Through Springboard Innovation, she’s been working on helping local economies access local capital for almost a decade. She was reluctant to look for a building to house the programs because changing how we invest in local economies really is about influencing existing institutions, habits and economies, and creating new ways to use legal and financial processes to free up capital for community investing. But it became clear that there’s a demand for people working in social enterprise to have spaces that hatch their ideas and build enterprises. Once she found the old Timberline Dodge building, the rest fell into place. The response has been really positive. And we’re not even open yet.
What type of organization is the best fit for Hatch?
Social enterprise. As your program is really good about explaining, social enterprise can take different forms, be for- or non-profit, etc. Anyone who wants to use enterprise as a means to accomplish a social or environmental end is a good fit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already been wildly successful, or are just putting the pieces together and want some help.
What services does Hatch offer, and how much do they cost?
Hatch has a few different services. We have an incubator space that will provide access to top-notch experts brought in to help make them successful. Right now, desks in the startup space are $250.
We also have co-work space, which starts at $95 a month for 5-day access, and tops out at $295 for full-time, 24-hour access.
We also have Fireboxes (like cubes, but cooler) that cost $350 a month. It’s a dedicated desk with a locker, and lots of other amenities.
But most importantly, all our members have access to our programs, workshops and seminars — which revolve around getting them the expertise they need to be successful in whatever work they’re doing. So we’re trying to create an ecosystem that people can step into and thrive.
Do you have any interesting stories from the planning and buildout process?
The whole process has been a lot of fun. When you step into an old car dealership with a very 1990s feel and say, “Yeah, this would make a great co-work space for the community,” you have to be able to roll with the punches (just like any social enterprise startup). One minute you’re engaging leaders in the Portland community and the next you’re ripping off old awnings and wondering how to install more outlets. But mostly it’s been fun to see our team come together with our ideas and have the whole process evolve. Someone walked in the other day and said, “Wow. This is the new sexiest workspace in Portland.” That was fun.
When is the official launch party?
Glad you asked. We’d love to welcome the PSU community.
Where: 2420 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland
When: Thursday, January 30th | 5:00 – 8:00 PM
Who: Meet tenants including XRAY, Albina Opportunities Corporation, TEDx, Mojalink, and many others who are helping form the Hatch Community. Learn how you can grow your own project or get involved in moving another forward. Hear about our 2014 calendar of many new and favorite programs and events.
Cost: Free! Bring a friend and introduce us!
RSVP: to firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Please check out the Hatch website to learn more. Or just come by and ask for a tour.
I also want to say that Portland is a great place for social enterprise. It’s nascent, but emerging. There are a lot of dedicated people already doing a lot in that space. Our goal is to grow the entire ecosystem of social enterprise, to collaborate with many partners like Impact Entrepreneurs and complement each other’s work.
Higher Education Reform in America: What are we trying to make more affordable? The road to strong US College Scorecards
This post was contributed by guest writer Marie Mainil, a political scientist and Business and Product Development Consultant with The Amani Institute.
Recent news have pointed out that institutions from Federal, State, Private, and philanthropic sectors are on a mission to make higher education more accessible to low-income students. But what exactly do we plan on making more affordable?
While reaching college is a challenge for low-income students in the US, there is also an achievement gap once they’ve arrived. The graduation rate for low-income students is around 25 %, less than half the national average. We also know that student loan debt has now surpassed the credit card debt that played a significant role in the great recession.
Both President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have called education the civil rights issue of our generation. Post-secondary credentials, in fact, tend to be a prerequisite for 21st-century jobs. Yet, despite high unemployment rates among young people around the world, employers across sectors complain that they find it difficult to hire suitable talent. Employers face the prospect of hiring recent graduates whose education may not afford them the skills they need to meet the demands of the current global economy.
Recent higher education policies and programs have been successful in expanding opportunities for students (of all backgrounds) in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) field. This is great, given that American students fare relatively poorly in math and science. But why stop at STEM?
One current policy provides for grants to develop innovation within the private and philanthropic sectors in order to improve student achievement in general. Current policy also emphasizes a set of measures designed to strengthen community colleges, as well as to hold colleges and universities accountable for cost, value and quality. The launch of the College Scorecard is in fact meant to empower students and families with more transparent information about college costs and outcomes. Yet extra steps are needed to strengthen the university education we are trying to make more affordable.
There is a link between university curriculum and youth unemployment. Studies consistently show that the attributes employers most value in prospective employees are largely things not received from a typical university degree. This is especially true in the social change sector, a sector favored by the millennial generation. Employers in this sector rank leadership, problem-solving, initiative, project management skills, and communication skills as more important than academic and analytical/quantitative skills (which is not to say, of course, that those are unimportant). See here and here for more.
Since, according to employers, soft skills matter has much as hard skills, opportunities for leadership development, problem-solving skills, empathy, cross-cultural fluency, and self-mastery need to be systematically baked into higher education training programs—for the sake of both future employees and job creators. While still along the margins of the mainstream, an increasing number of outstanding organizations are working on providing such opportunities. See the Transformative Action Institute, Impact Entrepreneurs Leadership Programs, Global Citizen Year, Watson University, Mycelium, Uncollege, or Global Health Core, to name a few.
One additional organization institutionalizing the skills above with the goal of helping reform the higher education system is The Amani Institute (full disclaimer, I am a consultant there).
The Amani model focuses on developing 4 essential skills, which are also the core values by which the Amani team measures its impact:
- The vision to see what needs to change, to see what is not, and ask why not. This skill involves looking beyond one’s own position and identifying what one can do, such as setting a new direction for self, an organization, or communities.
- The courage to step into the unknown, and into the possible, without having all the answers, holding steady in the face of both the attractions and perks of the status quo.
- The empathy to work effectively with others, standing up when others can’t (or won’t).
- An ethos of change-making towards a more peaceful and just world, building, not just critiquing, deploying not just skills and knowledge, but one’s whole being.
Amani students, through semester trainings and apprenticeships, develop a professional toolkit and networks, and come to understand the personal journey impactful work requires in terms of effectiveness and personal sustainability. It is also worth noting that The Amani Institute does all this while reducing the traditionally high cost of top-class global education. The Amani model is certainly food for thought in the context of upcoming pushes for higher education reform.
America needs a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, creative, and equipped for success in the 21st century global marketplace. If we are going to create more pathways to higher education for all Americans, we should also ensure that higher education provides pathways to 21st-century jobs. This requires paying attention to the link between embedding problem-solving skills, empathy, cross-cultural fluency and self-mastery in higher education, and creating/filling 21st-century jobs that bring societal returns.
To learn more about The Amani Institute and apply to its programs, visit http://amaniinstitute.org