Posts filed under ‘Opportunities for social innovators’
Watch local innovators pitch the region’s most exciting new social ventures and vote for a winner to receive $1500 cash at the Elevating Impact Summit on June 20.
The Elevating Impact Summit, put on by Portland State University’s Impact Entrepreneurs, is an annual one-day event in downtown Portland celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation for social impact.
On Friday, June 20, six finalists, each selected for their innovative and entrepreneurial approach to addressing a social or environmental problem, will have three minutes to pitch their idea to more than 350 audience members. Following each pitch, a panel of expert investors and entrepreneurs will discuss the finalist’s for-profit, nonprofit, or hybrid venture, their vision, and their plans.
When the real-time audience vote is in, Immix Law Group will award $1500 cash and $1000 of in-kind legal support to the finalist with the most votes. The runner up will also receive $1000 of in-kind legal support.
The 2014 finalists are…
• Ila Asplund, Half Sky Journeys
Half Sky Journeys creates global trips with a purpose: to boost funding and awareness for girl- and women-empowering organizations. Half Sky Journeys’ life-changing journeys give travelers an opportunity to improve the lives of others and transform their own in the process. The journeys help high-level philanthropists engage personally with innovative women leaders (in education, health, technology) and discover firsthand how investing in a girl is the starting point for changing the world.
• Ryan Carson, Treehouse Island, Inc.
Treehouse provides affordable, accessible tech education for high-paying jobs in a digital economy. Many schools lack tech teachers and teachers cannot keep pace with rapidly evolving technology. Treehouse’s online interactive tutorials teach job-ready skills in web design, programming and app design without massive debt. Treehouse has had success in high poverty and rural areas using the program to retrain workers. With your support, Treehouse aims to reach people everywhere to empower them to economic self-sufficiency and inspire innovators.
• Orion Falvey, Orchid Health
Over the past decade, health insurance costs have risen over 100%. While costs go up, care quality has decreased because insurance companies don’t pay providers sustainable rates. Orchid Health’s solution removes health insurance from primary care by having patients pay a monthly fee of around $50. This model, along with locating in Medically Underserved Areas, which allows Orchid to profitably serve those on Medicaid and Medicare, makes Orchid unique and ready to grow quickly.
• Aaron Killgore, Live Forest Farms
Live Forest Farms is a food import company that partners with projects that drive sustainable agriculture and conservation in critical parts of the world. Live Forest Farms’ prototype is in East Bali Indonesia, where they have created a nonprofit initiative, East Bali Watershed Initiative, and partnered with a cashew factory, to import single origin, ethically sourced cashews to Portland, Oregon.
• Katrina Scotto di Carlo, Supportland
Small, local businesses tend to be isolated, leading 40% to go out of business in the first three years. By increasing the exchanges in which small businesses engage, Supportland disables this isolation. Besides the quantity, we make exchanges simpler and more rewarding with business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and even with other players historically unable to build at-scale exchanges with independent businesses. All these exchanges deepen relationships resulting in stronger economic activity for small, local businesses.
• Amy Doering Smith, Safi Water Works
Safi means ‘clean’ or ‘pure’ in Swahili. Safi Water Works is a social purpose enterprise addressing two complex global issues: providing safe, clean drinking water and creating income-generating opportunities for some of the world’s poorest. Safi manufactures and distributes products that use off-the-grid/human sources to power an ultraviolet disinfecting process that results in safe drinking water. Products are designed to be economical and effective and appropriate for urban communities throughout the developing world.
Panelists joining the Pitch Fest to provide strategic questions and feedback to each finalist include:
• Carolynn Duncan (moderator), Founder and General Partner of NW Social Venture Fund and Founder and CEO of TenX
• Melissa Freeman, Oregon Community Foundation
• Molly Lindquist, Founder & CEO of Consano
• Tom Sperry, Managing Director of Rogue Venture Partners
Leading up to the Elevating Impact Summit on Friday, June 20 in Portland, Oregon, we’ve invited event speakers, award nominees, and panelists to engage in a stories project. We believe that storytelling is an essential part of effective social innovation. How can we tell stories in a way that generates interest and creates connections? How can we listen to the stories of others with the empathy needed to achieve true understanding? We hope that by sharing the stories of our speakers, or pieces they have written reflecting elements of their journeys, you will learn more about each person, and explore the promise and challenge of social innovation.
Why John Gardner Is My Retirement Role Model
By Marc Freedman
Seventeen years ago, I sat behind the wheel of a blue Volkswagen Beetle, speeding through the night on Highway 101 between San Francisco and Palo Alto. Seated beside me in the passenger seat was my hero and mentor, John W. Gardner. Dressed impeccably, as always, in a gray suit, with a felt fedora perched on his lap, Gardner was then 85 years old.
I took the late-night ride as the chance to ask him about his life and legacy, looking back from the perspective of one’s ninth decade. What was he proudest of? What did he feel had been his great contribution? Gardner’s answer was immediate and unequivocal: the book, “Self-Renewal,” first published in the early 1960s. I was so engrossed in Gardner’s reflections that I failed to notice the sea of taillights accumulating rapidly in front of us. I slammed on the brakes. John’s hands hit the dashboard, and I could hear him repeating the words, “Oh my God,” over and over again. The phrase repeating in my head was less uplifting: “You’re killing a national treasure!”
We survived, thank God, although I don’t think John ever drove with me again. But we remained close right to the end of his life five years later, in 2002. During that period he served as the founding board member of Civic Ventures (now Encore.org), the organization we started together to launch the program Experience Corps, and more broadly, to help transform the aging society into a source of personal and social renewal.
John’s own life was a marvelous example of renewal. In 1964, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that ultimate lifetime achievement award, for his work in education and philanthropy. Already in his 50s with a long track record of achievement, he nevertheless refused to accept a ‘gold watch’ or an end to purpose—in fact, he was just getting started.
Over the next decades, Gardner served as Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, where he implemented Medicare and many other groundbreaking reforms, then went on to found Common Cause and Independent Sector, and to help preside over the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with authoring a series of books on leadership and civil society. It’s no wonder that The New York Times titled an article about him, “Father of Invention.”
Along with being an inveterate and lifelong social entrepreneur, Gardner was a master of the memorable phrase. During the Medicare battles of 1965, he observed, America today faces “breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems,” an apt characterization for the demographic and longevity revolutions unfolding today.
The last time I heard him speak publicly, a year before his passing, Gardner talked in very personal terms about the challenges and opportunities of renewal in the second half of life: “All my feelings about the release of human possibilities, all of my convictions about renewal,” he stated, “are offended by the widely shared cultural assumption that life levels off in one’s 40s and 50s and heads downhill, so that by 65 you are scrap heap material.”
Then he offered a closing wish, aimed at all of us middle agers in the audience: “What I want for those youngsters in their 40s and 50s is several more decades of vital learning and growth. And I want something even broader and deeper. I don’t know whether I can even put it into words. What I want…is a long youthfulness of spirit. It doesn’t seem much to ask—but it is everything.”
And it is.
This article was originally posted in the Wall Street Journal
Marc Freedman is leading a movement to engage millions of baby boomers in encore careers by combining personal meaning, continued income, and social impact. Freedman is the founder and CEO of Encore.org, an organization investing in people over 60 who are changing the world, and the Purpose Prize, which is a set of $100,000 awards to celebrate and advance their work. He also created Experience Corps, one of the largest nonprofits in the US engaging people over 55, and is the author of several books on encore careers and volunteering.
Freedman has received numerous accolades for his work as a social entrepreneur. In 2003 he was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for his innovative idea that engaging millions of baby boomers in encore careers could produce a “windfall of human talent to solve society’s greatest problems.” In 2007, 2008 and 2009, Fast Company magazine named Freedman one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs, and in 2010 The Nonprofit Times named him one of the 50 most powerful and influential individuals in the nonprofit sector. That year he also received the prestigious Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
Forge Portland aims to become the city’s newest co-working space, offering participating nonprofits and social enterprises free services and referrals across a range of topics. In May, their space at 1410 SW Morrision will open to members. We interviewed Forge Portland’s Founder, Robert Bart, about their offerings, Indiegogo campaign, and pending launch.
Impact Entrepreneurs: How would you describe Forge in a single tweet?
Robert Bart: A collaborative workspace for nonprofits, social entrepreneurs and freelancers. Members have access to free basic services to help them run more efficiently.
What inspired you to start Forge?
The inspiration for this model stemmed from wanting to find a way to help organizations without charging them a premium for delivering the services that they need. I first came up with the broad concept for Forge while biking back and forth to law school last winter. The initial concept was to allow organizations to share basic resources to cut down on overhead costs. Over the course of 200 conversations the concept was refined into our current model which provides Forge members with a physical space to work, while also giving them access to free resources to help them run more efficiently.
What do you see as Forge’s role in the local community?
Our goal is to become a hub for Portland’s non-profits, social entrepreneurs and freelancers. We want them to know they have a comfortable, professional office to work in, while also having access to resources and a community of like-minded people to share ideas and concepts. The services that we offer are designed to help a wide range of businesses and organizations, and as we grow we hope to offer these services to organizations that do not need desk space, but still need business development help.
Our space in downtown Portland is roughly 6,000 square feet and will double as an event space in the evening. We will provide organizations a place to hold regular meetings and events.
What type of organizations are the best fit for Forge?
The services that we offer are intended to be basic enough to address the needs of a wide range of organizations. While we are targeted at non-profits, social entrepreneurs and freelancers trying to do some good in the world, we also want people who work with the types of organizations at Forge. Our goal is to create an ecosystem where when a small business needs a graphic designer they already have a relationship with someone else who is working at Forge. We are creating an economy where members are spending their money with people they know and trust.
What services will Forge offer, and how much do they cost?
Forge members have access to free accounting templates, legal referral, business development, web templates, mentorship and intern placement. We do not charge our members for these services and do not make any money on referrals.
Our desk memberships start at $50 a month for a once-a-week access, $225 for a full-time hot desk, $325 for a private desk, and we have two remaining private offices for rent. We also offer a limited number of service-only memberships to organizations that just need business development assistance.
We intentionally set our prices to be the most affordable in town, because we want people to be able to access our services. Our goal and belief is that by helping organizations grow and expand good things will happen.
How close are you to launching, and how can the community help?
We are opening our doors in May at 1410 SW Morrison St. Right now, we are looking for a few more people to join our community and start working with us. We are limiting our initial membership and have about 10 available spots remaining. We are also about halfway through our Indiegogo campaign, which is helping us raise the last bit of capital to fund our build out costs in the space.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Forge is first and foremost about community and helping organizations. Over the past year dozens of people have contacted us with ways to help improve or add on to our model. If what we are trying to do resonates with you, please reach out and say hello: email@example.com
In the latest federal ranking, Oregon is sixth among US states in job growth. How does a small city like Portland create a large footprint in the startup world, while stimulating employment and economic development? We think it’s partly thanks to a great and growing base of programs offering assistance to small businesses. After several years of rapid growth, there are now nearly 30 business incubators, accelerators and support programs in the Portland area.
Beyond working space and crucial programs like mentoring, skills-building, and networking, you may be surprised what resources you can find in this ecosystem of supporting organizations. Need a commercial kitchen? A pop-up shop downtown? A 3-D printer? Alongside the Portland Business Journal’s recent Portland Incubator Roundup, we hope this post serves as a 2014 directory for local incubators helping small businesses thrive. Let us know in the comments if we missed anyone!
PSU’s Social Innovation Incubator and Business of Social Innovation Online Program: Embedded in PSU’s School of Business Administration, Impact Entrepreneurs delivers a curriculum integrating social, environmental and ethical issues through its Social Innovation Incubator and online program in social innovation, assisting early-stage social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in launching market-based innovations that generate systemic social and environmental benefits.
Springboard Innovation: Springboard Innovation helps fill the gap of learning and support for those who wish to make a difference in a new way through workshops and memberships at Hatch, social entrepreneurship meetup groups, investment guidance, mentorship matches, pitch events, and more.
Forge Portland: Just on the horizon, with a planned opening in May 14, Forge will be a shared workspace that offers a suite of free business and organizational tools designed to support nonprofit and social enterprise members.
II. Small Business Incubators and Accelerators
Mercy Corps NW: Mercy Corps NW supports small businesses and entrepreneurs through microloans, matched business grants, and small business classes taught by business professionals.
TenX: An open source, business frameworks education company, TenX provides content, events, conferences & learning programs to generate growth & acceleration for high potential organizations & individuals.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDC): FREE to Oregon businesses and entrepreneurs, SBDC services include financial, marketing, production, organization, and international trade and feasibility studies.
Starve Ups: A virtual incubator and accelerator with peer mentoring as its cornerstone, Starve Ups is an end-to-end educational approach helping companies to survive, strive and thrive.
The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE): Designed to accelerate the successful development of member companies, TiE provides support services including rental space, an incubator program, pitch sessions, and mentors.
Best HQ: A business incubator, best HQ provides the support and resources for entrepreneurs to establish and grow their companies, in addition to providing workspace and management and leadership training.
SCORE: Score is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses with free personal counseling, ongoing mentoring, and 100+ high quality, modestly-priced workshops each year.
NedSpace: This co-working resource has 14,000 square feet of great office space in the heart of downtown Portland for co-working, startups, entrepreneurs and remote workers.
III. Tech Incubators and Accelerators
Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC): OTBC helps entrepreneurs identify and attain their goals at whatever stage they are at by providing entrepreneurs with office space, access to OTBC’s coaching staff, and access to OTBC workshops and seminars.
Portland Incubator Experiment: PIE enables creative business-building by helping startups learn, grow, and quickly conquer obstacles, pairing them with the mentors they need, when they need them, to solve their unique business challenges.
Portland Seed Fund: The Portland Seed Fund is a privately managed fund and non-resident accelerator focused on providing emerging companies the capital, mentoring and connections to propel them to the next level.
Portland Startup Weekend: A 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation, Startup Weekend brings together developers, designers and business people to build applications and develop a commercial case.
Portland State Business Accelerator (PSBA): The PSBA provides office and lab space for science and technology startups, as well as a menu of services including turn-key affordable work space; conference room access; monthly CEO meetings and topic-related brown bags, plus ready information on business basics, raising funds and managing people.
The OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI): Oregon’s first and only bioscience-specific accelerator, the OBI provides scientists and young companies with the resources and expertise needed to take their research from the lab to the market.
Micro-Enterprise Inventor’s Program of Oregon (MIPO): MIPO is a non-profit organization that provides resources, training, and advising on inventing, designing, and marketing unique products and services globally.
IV. Craft, Culinary and Design Incubators and Accelerators
ADX: ADX is a 12,000-square foot facility that combines membership, fabrication services, classes and coworking — to make ADX a hub for design and innovation in Portland.
The COG Space: The Cog Space co-workspace/ office and accelerator for small bike businesses in Portland brings together Portland-based industry talent in order to share common resources and services.
PCC Getting Your Recipe to Market : In an intensive 14 weeks, this program will help you make your culinary idea commercial ready, with food industry experts that will take you step by step to produce, promote, and sell your product.
KitchenCru: A shared-use community kitchen and culinary incubator that supports culinary entrepreneurs in developing, operating, and growing a successful business.
Trillium Artisans: Helping low-income artisans and craftspeople increase their craft business income and build sustainable microenterprises by providing small business counseling, access to markets, peer networking and technical assistance and training.
PNCA Bridge Lab: Provides entrepreneurship development and resources for artists by helping artist-entrepreneurs focus your vision, connect you with business resources, and assist you in building your own personal network in the Portland creative community.
V. Incubators and Accelerators for Women and Minority-Owned Businesses
Portland State University Business Outreach Program (BOP): Helps local small businesses, including emerging minority and women-owned businesses, achieve their potential by providing technical assistance and business consulting services.
Hacienda CDC Community Economic Development: Serving low income microentrepreneurs at any stage of business development, the organization offers a culturally-specific Microenterprise Program that incubates businesses by providing training, access to capital and selling opportunities, affordable commercial kitchen rental and, in the future, retail space at the Portland Mercado.
Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO): MESO improves the economic opportunities of underserved individuals through empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of families in the greater
Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs: Participants in the Association can access the Incubator With Walls or the Incubator Without Walls. Both offer market rates, individual technical assistance, counseling with OAME’s staff or volunteers, cooperative marketing and business growth, and development support.
Women Of Mindful Business (WOMB): WOMB helps women create a natural framework for business and marketing efforts, and is a platform for collaboration with a small group of heart-centered entrepreneurs and opportunity to learn to weave the feminine into your business.
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 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!
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
We recently interviewed Melissa Appleyard, the Ames Professor in Management of Innovation and Technology at Portland State, about PSU’s free venture capital workshop Lab2Market to be held August 13-14, 2013 (applications due by July 31). Read on to learn more about the workshop and how it can help your venture become investment ready.
Impact Entrepreneurs: How would you describe Lab2Market in a single tweet?
Melissa Appleyard: The Lab2Market is a hands-on, entrepreneurship workshop led by dynamic seed-stage investors for early-stage ventures.
What’s the purpose of Lab2Market?
Lab2Market is meant to jump start the venturing process, allowing early-stage entrepreneurs to understand the initial market readiness of their business plan and obtain feedback on their elevator pitch. At the end of the workshop, there will be a competition among participants for a cash prize for the strongest elevator pitch. The long-term goal of the workshop is to help regional entrepreneurs identify their next steps, assess their needs, and build out their network required for success.
How is the workshop structured?
The Lab2Market workshop combines 1) participant interaction with seed-stage investors when practicing their elevator pitches, considering their business models, and strategies for obtaining their first customers; with 2) an excellent overview of the entrepreneurial process from start to exit.
What’s the history of Lab2Market, and how did DFJ Frontier become involved?
A $600,000 Partnerships for Innovation grant from the National Science Foundation funded the program starting in 2004. The goal was to create a better future for the State of Oregon by bolstering the entrepreneurship ecosystem. All of the major research universities in the State—PSU, OHSU, OSU, and U of O—were involved to use the programs and workshops to help extend entrepreneurial culture across the state.
After a couple of years of running the Lab2Market summer program internally, we decided we would benefit from collaborating with an early-stage investor group to help our university-based entrepreneurs tap into a broader network. At the same time, DFJ Frontier, which is based in California, starting making investments in Oregon and agreed to teach the workshop drawing on an intensive entrepreneurship course they had taught at UC Davis. Their energy is infectious and their range of experience with all types of ventures makes them particularly well suited to work with the cross-section of entrepreneurs coming out of the research universities and in the Portland region.
How much does it cost?
We do not charge the participants to attend, but we do fundraise to cover all of the expenses for the workshop.
Is it open to the public?
Because of the hands-on nature of the workshop, the ideal attendance level is around 25 participants. Therefore, we require interested entrepreneurs to fill out an application. About two-thirds of the attendees come from PSU, OHSU, OSU and UO, with one-third coming from the greater Portland community, for example from the Portland Seed Fund.
Who should attend?
Typically the attendees are early-stage entrepreneurs with only a basic understanding of the entrepreneurial process and who want to receive input on their elevator pitches and business plans from seasoned seed investors. The program is demanding on the participants, but it is a lot of fun too!
Learn more: http://www.pdx.edu/lab2market/
The Elevating Impact Summit is a celebration of impact in many forms, and a big part of that is the showcase of new social ventures, concepts, and up-and-coming entrepreneurs. The morning Pitch Fest is an exciting first look at the latest and greatest ideas in social innovation. If you have a social venture that you’re passionate about, don’t miss this opportunity to pitch your concept to a panel of leading impact investors looking for the next big thing!
So, why should you apply to participate in the Pitch Fest?
- Enjoy the full attention of a panel of impact investors who will evaluate your pitch and offer personalized feedback.
- Meet and mingle with other like-minded social entrepreneurs in a collaborative and inspiring environment.
- Link up with the partner, employee, resource, or organization you’ve been searching for to complete your vision.
- Make a name for yourself and your vision! This is your chance to tell your story to a room full of people who are ready to listen. You never know when you’re going to catch the interest of the right person who can help you get to the next level.
- Applicants must have a social enterprise concept or existing venture, either for-profit or nonprofit, that uses business tools to address a major social or environmental problem.
- You are required to submit a brief video that pitches your concept. Videos need not be “high-tech” or professionally produced. We know that it can be hard to convey an idea that you’re passionate about on a typed application, so this is your opportunity to insert your personality into the pitch. The video will be the most heavily weighted portion of the application, so make it count!
- Applicants must be registered for the event to be considered. Enter PITCHFEST at checkout to receive a special applicant discount when you purchase your ticket.
Want to work on your application offline? Download this Pitch Fest Application Cheat Sheet to help you prepare.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION: May 31st, 11:59PM
Questions? Email us at email@example.com.