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PSU Student Consulting Program Launches to Support Local B Corps


The Portland State University chapter of Net Impact, in conjunction with PSU’s Impact Entrepreneurs, is offering free consulting services for Oregon companies engaged in the B Corp certification or recertification process. This program will give graduate students valuable, hands-on experience working with mission-driven businesses, while providing companies with affordable assistance in improving their social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency, or achieving recognition for their current efforts.

The program will select teams of two to three PSU graduate students to work with the client over the course of a 10-week school term, providing up to 25 total hours of work (an estimated value of $3000) free of charge. The work can focus on the assessment portion of the process (assistance with answering the assessment questions, compiling or analyzing results, providing recommendations for next steps), or on tasks aimed at increasing the client’s assessment score, whether they are certifying for the first time or going through the recertification process. Students will be trained in B Corp Assessment methodology, and all work will be supervised by faculty.

Interested PSU graduate students should fill out this form to indicate their interest, or email Emma Ingebretsen ( and Rich Schwartz ( for more information. An informational meeting will be scheduled for the 2nd week of the fall term.

Interested companies should contact the PSU Net Impact project coordinators, Rich Schwartz ( and Emma Ingebretsen ( The project coordinators will work to match the company with a student consulting team.

Want to learn more about B Corp Certification and Oregon B Corps? Attend B Inspired on October 15, 2015, to see B Corp leaders speak, join a street fair of local B Corps, and enjoy a concert and celebration.

About B Corps (from the B Corps website)

“B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.”

About Net Impact – Portland State University Chapter

Net Impact is a global community of more than 60,000 students and professionals creating positive social and environmental change through their careers. Individual chapters are volunteer-led and self-directed. PSU’s Net Impact Chapter works to create opportunities for PSU graduate students to gain experience with mission-driven businesses and interact with sustainability-minded professionals. For more information on PSU’s Net Impact Chapter, or to get involved, follow us on Facebook or contact Emma Ingebretsen (

About Impact Entrepreneurs

Founded in 2010 in Portland State University’s School of Business Administration, Impact Entrepreneurs is unleashing the promise of business for social impact. We are a network of individuals and organizations committed to fostering economic, social, and ecological prosperity through entrepreneurial action.

Working with partners locally and globally, we deliver initiatives that strengthen organizations, build entrepreneurial impact-focused leaders, and catalyze social innovation. PSU’s School of Business was selected as the best small MBA program in the world by the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes rankings for integrating sustainability in business. PSU is also a member of the prestigious Ashoka U Changemaker Campus consortium.

September 28, 2015 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

PLACE: Working with Youth Changemakers

Impact Entrepreneurs Director talks about her social enterprise, Speak Shop, to the students of PLACE.

Impact Entrepreneurs Director Cindy Cooper talks about her social enterprise, Speak Shop, to the students of PLACE.

“Follow your curiosity.” — Qiddist Hammerly

At PSU’s Impact Entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that there’s no best age for someone to become a changemaker. From early childhood to encore careers, changemaking and social entrepreneurship can be taught—and realized—at any age. As we expand our university and professional programs to younger members of the community, partnering with Catlin Gabel’s remarkable PLACE program was a natural fitThis year, we worked with PLACE to provide a series of workshops on developing key skills and mindsets for changemaking, including resilience, empathy, optimism, and curiosity.

These skills, linked to successful social entrepreneurs, are also highly desired by employers around the world. We worked with PLACE students using tools including the Business Model You framework and activities from the Transformative Action Curriculum. The students were also treated to a panel of youth changemakers, including the inspiring founders of menstrual hygiene nonprofit Camions of Care, rural clinic Orchid Health, youth prison book provider Liberation Library, and low-cost prosthetic device firm GO Prosthetics.

Students were asked to explore and outline their goals in life. By tying those to the social and environmental problems they care about, as well as the skills they need to create positive change, we hoped guide them to a better understanding of their purpose and how to follow that passion. The results were truly inspiring, from plans to run a community education session on sex trafficking at the new PLACE Center, to help immigrants pass the citizenship test, or simply to explore a newfound passion for changemaking.

When Qiddist Hammerly, a Catlin Gabel alumna and university student involved in Liberation Library, was asked where to start in making positive change, she suggested that students simply “follow their curiosity.” We’ve done the same as we work to teach social entrepreneurship to a younger audience than that of our typical adult workshops and university courses. Along the way, we’ve learned what to adapt (shorter lectures!), but more importantly, we’ve learned how much of what we teach is applicable for changemakers of any age.

Want to follow your curiosity? Learn how to run a program like PLACE using their free curriculum guide, or contact us to discuss how we can provide changemaking workshops for your organization.

July 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

Our Award-Winning Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Cases

For several years, Portland State University’s (PSU) School of Business Administration (SBA) has managed a case writing program for students, faculty, and staff to create original business cases showcasing sustainable businesses or social enterprises from the Portland area. The cases have been used in courses at PSU and other universities, provided valuable learning opportunities in academic writing, and given innovative local organizations international exposure.

The program has enjoyed global recognition: previous PSU SBA cases, all available for free online, include two winners and three finalists of the prestigious oikos Case Writing Competition.

We are delighted to share that Impact Entrepreneurs was involved in developing two award-winning cases in 2015, both planned and co-authored by Impact Entrepreneurs Program Manager Jacen Greene.

Grameen Intel Social Business, written by Jacen Greene, Impact Entrepreneurs Director Cindy Cooper, and PSU Professor Ted Khoury, won 2nd Place in the Next Billion Case Writing Competition. Based on content created for PSU’s Business of Social Innovation Certificate, the case details a unique joint venture between Grameen Trust and Intel Corporation to deliver technology solutions that enable some of the world’s lowest-income people to earn more money, increase early childhood education, and improve maternal health. The prize money was donated to PSU to be used by students for opportunities to learn about social enterprise and sustainability. The case can be purchased from the GlobalLens archive.

Hopworks Urban Brewery, written by PSU Professor Madeleine Pullman, Jacen Greene, PSU employee Xan Pedisich, and PSU MBA students Devin Liebmann and Nga Ho, won 1st Prize in the oikos Case Writing Competition. Building on material from PSU’s Business of Craft Brewing Certificate, the case details the sustainability initiatives of Portland, Oregon brewpub Hopworks, one of the greenest breweries in the nation. The prize money was split between the student and staff co-authors. The case is available for free at the oikos Case Collection.

If you’d like to see a review copy of either case and teaching note, or if you’re interested in having your own organization featured in a future case, please email Jacen Greene: jacen (at)

July 7, 2015 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Partnering with Youth in 2015

By Cindy Cooper, Co-founder & Director, PSU’s Impact Entrepreneurs


One of my favorite quotes from our 2013 Elevating Impact Summit was when Eric Dawson, Co-founder & President of Peace First, said, “Children aren’t the future. Children are the present.”

I’ve since thought a lot about the opportunity Eric laid out before us.

An Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, Portland State University is considered one of the world’s leading universities for making changemakers and inspiring action for a better world. I wondered how Impact Entrepreneurs, as a program in a university, could situate youth in our efforts to inspire, incubate and accelerate impact through the promise of business.

Then, I met George Zaninovich who knows a lot about tapping into the power of youth. George created PLACE: Planning and Leadership Across City Environments. A program of Portland’s Catlin Gabel school, PLACE provides high school students and recent graduates from any regional school with an opportunity to lead civic and urban planning projects that create positive change in Portland. For example, designing solutions to food insecurity in outer SE Portland in partnership with Zenger Farm, and developing transportation solutions and enhancing the safety on the Powell corridor with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

In its seventh year, PLACE has engaged thousands of Portlanders in its projects and worked with hundreds of students from 18 high schools. PLACE has even made its program open source by creating a comprehensive curriculum guide that has been downloaded in more than 50 cities across the world.

Talking with George, we found shared learning goals and beliefs with one big difference: Where PLACE’s experiential projects are defined by the needs of community leaders and urban environments, Impact Entrepreneurs roots its hands-on learning in identifying and pursuing personal purpose for social change. This is the type of complementarity that collective impact is made from!

The decision to work together was a no-brainer, and over many months we co-created an approach that integrates Impact Entrepreneurs’ into PLACE’s 2015 summer program. The collaboration means that 24 PLACE students will explore personal changemaking through the lens of social innovation. They will meet inspiring innovators, examine best practices, and engage in activities to develop their own purpose and pathways toward making a lasting difference.

PLACE’s 2015 program starts July 6th. We’ll bring you updates as we go. Let the changemaking begin!


 Jacen Greene, Impact Entrepreneurs, & George Zaninovich, PLACE



June 9, 2015 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

Meet Our 2015 Social Innovation Incubator Members!

The Impact Entrepreneurs Social Innovation Incubator has emerged from hiatus! After taking a year off while we created our online certificate in the Business of Social Innovation, we are thrilled to be back.

We are excited to be working closely over the next year with four amazing new members. Check them out:


ConstructFoundationLogo136x46Construct Foundation is building a portfolio of partners and mutually reinforcing education initiatives to identify and support new models for teaching and learning, prioritizing K-12 students in Portland Metro’s underserved communities.


GGY_Logo_Red_White_400Gender Gap Year is closing the gaps in women’s representation, leadership, power and pay through an innovative gap year program in Portland Oregon.  Through badging, boldness, action, and self exploration, the year long program empowers women between 18 and 22 to live authentic, connected, and strategic lives of equity.

LanyiFan_0Lanyi Fan incubates locally-generated solutions and facilitates international relationships to address the high unemployment and environmental problems encroaching on existing livelihoods in West Africa.



The Pathways to Prosperity Initiative, an intrapreneurial program of nonprofit Self Enhancement Inc. (SEI), provides at-risk urban youth and their families in the Portland area “with the knowledge, skills and support needed to leverage economic opportunities and increase financial capability.”



Meet past members, find out more about the Social Innovation Incubator, and stay tuned to this blog for upcoming interviews with the inspiring founders from the 2015 class!

March 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

Research Shows that Employers Want to Hire Changemakers link

Employers increasingly want to hire more entrepreneurial, more ethical, more impactful employees. And it’s no coincidence that the skills taught in Portland State University’s online Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (a “changemaker certificate“) match those most desired by employers. As work becomes more complex and demand for creativity and flexibility grows, the skills linked to creating positive social and environmental impact — those of a “changemaker” — increasingly overlap with those that help organizations succeed financially.

The influential economist Michael Porter argues that businesses succeed when they create value not just for owners, but “shared value” for society as well. A similar approach is embraced by nearly 1200 sustainable businesses that have obtained B Corp certification, and by the 27 states that now allow Benefit Corporations as a distinct legal entity. The social entrepreneurs recognized as Ashoka or Skoll fellows have been pursuing transformative approaches to creating value for society, around the world, for decades. But it’s not just triple-bottom-line businesses, social enterprises, and nonprofits that want changemakers as employees; traditional businesses do as well.

How do we know? We looked at five recent surveys of in-demand job skills covering more than 4000 employers and 5600 individuals both in the United States and around the world (from MckinseyGeorgetown University; the National Association of Colleges and EmployersGallup/Lumina Foundation; and a consortium of employer organizations). We then looked at the top 10 human skills listed in each survey, separating out training in specific technical skills such as math, English fluency, and computer literacy. What we found is that the remaining skills line up neatly with the attributes of successful changemakers identified across studies summarized by faculty at the University of Northampton (an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, like Portland State University).

For example, the top job skills demanded across all five employment surveys — oral communication, written communication, and critical thinking/problem solving — were also identified as critical attributes of successful changemakers in a number of research papers. Work ethic and teamwork, the next most desired skills, were likewise shared across both sets of research. Creativity, leadership, and self-management are key to both employability and successful change creation. Even skills like ethics and initiative, essential for social entrepreneurs, are highly desired by employers.

Our students explore each of these top skills in our certificate program. Experiential assignments and applied learning prepare them to launch a venture or to work effectively for an employer. Each student creates and refines a solution to a social or environmental problem of their choice, using best practices from design thinking, lean entrepreneurship, and leadership. Whether or not they decide to make their social venture a reality, they’re learning the most in-demand skills to be successful wherever life takes them. And we’re glad to know employers increasingly believe that employees who create shared value are also the most valued.

Changemakers on the Portland, Oregon field study option of PSU's Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.

Changemakers on the Portland, Oregon field study option of PSU’s Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship.

By Jacen Greene, Program Manager for Social Enterprise Initiatives, Impact Entrepreneurs at Portland State University

January 7, 2015 at 10:49 am 3 comments

Forge Portland: A New Co-working Space for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 9.52.35 AM

37648_forge_robert_bartForge 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:


April 11, 2014 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

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