Providing the Right Tools for the Right Changes

– By Sagar Doshi and Tanya Eleftheriou

Social Change. Everyone is talking about it, but what are we doing for our younger generations to implement it? Young adults need to have the proper tools to make an impact and that is why education for social change is becoming a much more prevalent topic in the college environment today. Universities across the nation have started to incorporate social impact programs and clubs for their students to participate in.  College is a great avenue to have young adults learn about social change and possibly create a new generation in which social impact is more valuable than financial impact. In this blog, we have focused on two local programs from the Washington D.C. area that empower their students to make a positive change.

Maryland got the ball rolling this year with its chapter of Net Impact. Net Impact is a nonprofit organization with 300+ chapters around the world that engages people to use their career paths to make a social and environmental impact. The Robert H. Smith School of Business’s Chapter of Net Impact exceeded expectations and received Gold Status for 2012-2013 in one semester. The rankings (Silver and Gold) were created by Net Impact to recognize chapters that go the extra mile in providing valuable opportunities for its members and local community. Smith Undergraduate Net Impact had numerous presentations lined up throughout the year with organizations such as the Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Reznick Think Energy. The chapter even created the Making a Path Career Development Program (MAP) that helped students discover their own impact career aspirations and strengths. Austin Lee, the chapter President, claimed: “Starting a Net Impact chapter has been, by far, the best experience of my college career. Being recognized as a Gold chapter is a real validation of all the hard work that our members put into building this organization.”

George Mason University in Fairfax, VA has also recently incorporated social impact on campus through the development of the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship (MCSE). Unlike other social enterprise programs that generally attract business majors, the MCSE welcomes all aspiring students, from every career path and discipline of study, to channel their skills and passions into the work of social entrepreneurship.  Since the launch of the Center in 2011, the MCSE has fulfilled a number of impressing achievements, including the implementation of the Social Innovation Program, an annual, six-week, summer academic course aimed at preparing and empowering aspiring social entrepreneurs; and the Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship Conference, where hundreds of leaders gather to discuss strategies to advance “the movement of social enterprise regionally, nationally, and globally.” Thanks to MCSE, George Mason has introduced their first Masters Degree Program for Social Entrepreneurship. Having been endowed with the Virginia Governor’s Award for Community Service, George Mason University clearly acknowledges the rise of social enterprise and its potential to help solve global issues.

More than ever, universities are truly gearing their efforts toward teaching and engaging in social impact. Before, students were asking themselves: “How can I combine my career focus and still give back to the world?” But now, students have an answer.

The CHiRP Program will continue to highlight some of the most innovative social impact and entrepreneurship initiatives across the country. Want us to highlight your school? Email us at sdoshi@oikocredit.org, Tweet us at @OikocreditUSA, or message us on Facebook!

*Disclaimer: The views represented here are the opinions of the individual blog author and do not represent the views of Oikocredit USA. 

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