Here’s an excellent and comprehensive report on youth-led social change, focusing on Connecticut. Connecticut, like many parts of the country, faces severe economic inequality. Some groups, as part of a strategy to confront this challenge, are empowering youth to improve their community. The report is long, and to save your time, check out pages 9 for a nice graphic, and look to page 29 for a summary of conclusions. In short, this is about creating a mindset of accountability and empowerment, tackling tough challenges even when they make us uncomfortable. Worth a few minutes of your time.
Fascinating article in the Huffington Post on whether social entrepreneurs over-emphasize individual effort over collaboration. The author, Kathleen Janus, argues that collaboration should be encouraged, and identifies three ways to do so. First, build a network of stakeholders that help guide an organization’s direction; second, delegate responsibility to get more junior officers involved; and third, use boards as a means to develop a bench of talent that can enhance performance. Her underlying belief is that creating a larger group of stakeholders will improve output and ensure the organization’s longevity.
What do you think? Are social entrepreneurs better off on their own?
A recently completed study (in all your free time you can read the whole report here) provides a comprehensive look at social entrepreneurship in the public, nonprofit, and private sector and how it has addressed entrenched challenges facing our society. Using several case studies, including Teach for America, the government of New York City, and microlending, the report draws several conclusions about how social entrepreneurship has changed the approach to problem solving. The author, in particular, notes that social entrepreneurship emphasizes measurement and evaluation (see page 8).
–Showing returns, and giving monetary or social value to an organization’s programs
–Improving how organizations work internally
–Tieing grant-making to results
–Greater use of technology
It’s a report worth reading if you’re interested in social entrepreneurship.
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it’s a good time of year to reflect for a moment on all we have to be thankful for. We all have different backgrounds, but most of us have family, friends and others who care for us, a roof over our heads, reliable access to food and water, and a school which challenges us daily and helps us grow. Perhaps most importantly of all, we have an ability to foment change–change of our environment, our community, and even ourselves. This notion is empowering–we are movers of this world, not merely passive actors in some grand play lacking any control over the plot. If we’re dissatisfied, asking the question “What can we do to improve our situation” could spur us to action, help us build something new, and perhaps encourage others to get involved.
Keep up the good work. Happy Thanksgiving.
A recent article in USA Today explains that Yale University has become a hub for social entrepreneurs, having developed a top flight program focused on social entrepreneurship. The article attributes the Yale program’s success to a few factors–it has appealed especially to a number of motivated and high profile women, who have created a robust alumni network to support graduating students looking to get involved.
Yale, of course is one of the country’s best institutions and one that attracts ambitious and deeply talented students. These are students who generally have the ability to get involved in business, finance, and other for profit endeavors. It is a testament to the culture of Yale that it instead can bring the best to the social entrepreneurial world. Getting such students involved in social entrepreneurship, and keeping them engaged in that community after graduation is certain to help our country and community.
Veteran’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifices of our military veterans. But it also provides an opportunity to celebrate some of our country’s finest and most creative social entrepreneurs. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were as much about social entrepreneurs as it was about traditional military operations. In Iraq alone, more than $50 Billion was spent on rebuilding projects. Soldiers were sent into towns, cities, and villages, and in effect lived amongst locals and were expected to help them build their communities. Projects included clean water, building schools, providing healthcare, improving nutrition, and boosting the local economy. This required imagination and creativity under the most difficult circumstances.
Certainly, the personal and professional sacrifices made soldiers should be appreciated, but keep in mind as well that veterans are some of our best social entrepreneurs.
A recent article in the Huffington Post outlines five ingredients one needs in order to be a successful social entrepreneur. The author, Monika Mitchell, lists the following: Passion, Purpose, Plan, Partner, and Profit. Within the five Ps, a couple common theme that emerges is the need of “others.” Social entrepreneurs often need partners to start and maintain new ventures, often generate profits that benefit their investors–and keep their efforts going–and distribute their social services to benefit communities and other people.
While an individual may often come up with a new service idea, that person is likely to need assistance from others in order to achieve their goals and benefit their target community.
What do you think? Anything you’d add to the 5Ps?
The decision by the Nobel committee to award its Peace Prize to Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was rife with controversy this year. Many believed the award should have gone to Malala Yousafzai, a 16 year old Pakistani girl who almost lost her life last year while she fought for female education in Pakistan. Malala was shot in the head by a militant linked to the Pakistani Taliban because the group objected to her cause.
True to the grace and style of someone who is willing to die defending her beliefs, Malala said “I think I have won” the prize despite not receiving the nod, noting that she had widespread support for her cause. Remembering that your purpose, your work to improve the lives of others, is more important than external recognition will help you stay grounded and determined. Malala is an example for many–not just the young women in her country–and we can only hope she continues to stay active in the world community for a long time.
You ought to check the website Ashoka.org. Ashoka is a sprawling network of social entrepreneurs that covers more than 70 countries in the world. Ashoka’s goals is to provide support and financing for social entrepreneurs. One of their beliefs is “everyone is a changemaker.” I agree.
In particular, take a look at https://www.ashoka.org/youth-venture, which aims to inspire and invest in teams of young people to change their world. This is exactly consistent with Teach2Serve’s mission. Remember that there are other groups out there who want you to succeed in your ventures and in your efforts to make some improvements in the world.
Think you can’t make a difference at a young age? Wrong. Check out this Forbes profile, which highlights 30 social entrepreneurs aged 30 or younger. Included in this list are Hugh Evans, who founded the Global Poverty Project, which is committed to ending extreme poverty, and Simone and Jake Bernstein, who at the ages of 17 and 15, respectively, founded a website that would serve as a central resource for all available community service opportunities.
The takeaway here is simple–at any age you can make a big difference. All it takes is a little bit of thought and a lot of hard work.