My Summer of Innovation at CfSI!

by Chapin Atwood

Chapin enjoys the winter months before a summer of innovation at CfSI!

Chapin enjoys the winter months before a summer of innovation at CfSI!

On the morning of June 12 I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham to hear Eric Schwarz speak at the annual Massachusetts Service Alliance conference. Not entirely sure of where I was, and nervous to be in a room full of strangers, I started off my summer as an intern with College for Social Innovation feeling uncertain and intimidated. However, any bit of hesitation I was feeling that morning was eliminated once Eric began to speak. At a time in our country that is full of uncertainty and doubt about the progress we are capable of making, Eric brought light to the immense amount of social improvement we’ve experienced. He discussed a massive decline in global poverty and how we’ve come close to closing the college access gap in the U.S. and now have a substantial platform upon which we can continue to build.  He explained the way that political engagement and citizen service can combine to create “the twin engines of social progress” to address huge challenges that remain, while also highlighting the importance of celebrating our successes as a country. Suddenly, I began my summer with College for Social Innovation feeling inspired and motivated.

The summer flew by in a flurry of meetings, interviews, trips to University of New Hampshire, and spreadsheets. Nine weeks later I find myself wrapping up final projects and reflecting on what I’ve learned. What I can say for certain is this: this internship has allowed me to learn and grow in a unique and wholly engaging way. One of the main projects I was working on was one titled “Doing Well While Doing Good.” With this project, we aim to shift college student’s perception of the social sector by bringing light to the feasibility of having a successful career while also making a positive impact in the world. In an effort to do this, I interviewed 14 different social sector professionals from across Boston. From philanthropy with The Boston Foundation to a focus on sustainability with Freight Farms, there was an immense range of talents and passions. Through my interviews with these social sector professionals, I aimed to illustrate these career paths in a tangible way so that college students could visualize themselves pursuing similar paths.

 After I explained our goal for the project, nearly every person we asked agreed to be interviewed. Through meeting each of these people, I was drawn to different parts of their organizations in multiple ways. I loved the work environment at Freight Farms, where Rick Trenchard explained that people arrive each day energized and passionate about their mission and purpose. I could feel this positive energy bubbling from the moment I arrived. I loved the sense of collaboration between employees on the frontline of service and those working on more of the background/human resources end of the organization at places like Playworks and Citizen Schools. I was inspired by the close relationships developed with people in the communities served at organizations like Union Capital Boston (UCB). Laura Ballek, UCB’s Chief of Networks, excitedly told me about how these community members were some of the first people invited to her birthday party.

As a whole, these organizations were full of passion and purpose. However, the 14 people with whom I spoke with were truly the ones who brought light and energy. I came to realize that lofty mission statements are important, but don’t carry nearly as much value without the employees who embody those missions day in and day out. Andres Mejia and Yoelinson Castillo (with UNH and Citizen Schools respectively) spoke to the sense of responsibility they felt to support their communities and backgrounds, which were predominantly low-income people of color. Andres spoke about the importance of being a leader for future generations, saying “MLK did everything he did so that I can be here today, so I want to continue the work for future generations.” Similarly, Yoelinson returned to work at the Edwards Middle School through Citizen Schools. This was a school that he attended at a child, and one that stood out to him due to the way it helped him get where he is today.

I came to realize that lofty mission statements are important, but don’t carry nearly as much value without the employees who embody those missions day in and day out.

 

Paul Epstein, a Social Worker at Brookline High School, spoke to the importance of learning through frontline, grassroots experiences. He explained that he learned more in one eight-hour shift at The Home For Little Wanderers than he did in two years of graduate school. The internal awareness that Stephanie Guidry (with The Boston Foundation) expressed was admirable. She explained the importance of being aware of the problem you’re trying to solve and working hard to insure that you really know what the issue at hand is so that you are capable of solving it most effectively. Nicholas Rizzo and Chama Saissi (with the Governor’s Office and Citizen Schools respectively) spoke to the immense value of hard work and determination to get you where you want to be. They both embodied an extraordinary work ethic that continues to lead them through their careers in the social sector. To learn more about the amazing social sector careers of all 14 interviewees, look out for our upcoming “careers in the social sector” page on the College for Social Innovation web site.

Wrapping up the summer, not only did I learn immensely from those I interviewed but also from those within College for Social Innovation. I experienced the importance of open communication, as all our desks sit right next to each other and all chatter big and small is heard throughout the office. This made for a comfortable, easy-going work environment that was a blessing to me when I arrived as an unfamiliar summer intern. I gained professional development skills that will continue to support me as I delve into my own career. Most of all, I experienced each day the value that comes with doing what you truly love. It is evident that those employed with College for Social Innovation have a real passion for what they are doing. This was a reminder to me of the importance in tapping into your passions and figuring out the best way to bring those passions to fruition. As a college student myself who has just finished my first internship, this experience has served as the first building block in my career and it has strongly contributed to my ambition to promote social change in an impactful way. I look forward to watching the story of College for Social Innovation continue to unfold as I know it will impact so many others in the way it has impacted me.

 

Why Do You Do What You Do?

It's been an exciting year at College for Social Innovation as we have grown from two founding college partners to five, enrolled and graduated 34 Social Innovation Fellows, and received applications from 63 social sector organizations to host one of our Fellows for a fully-credited semester of learning and impact. 

  • We graduated 34 students with 97 percent saying they gained significant skills as problems solvers, 94 percent saying they made significant gains in design thinking, and 91 percent citing significant gains in public speaking and general workplace skills;
  • 63 percent of students who enrolled in the program (including next fall's cohort) are first-generation, low-income, and/or students of color, helping us advance our goal of building a bigger, better, and more diverse talent pipeline for social change;
  • We placed student interns at 27 of Boston's best social sector organizations (non-profits, government agencies, and social mission businesses) and all 27 organizations said they wanted to host additional interns;
  • Of all organizations that have hosted a Fellow, a majority said they would "hire our intern in a heartbeat" if they had an open entry-level position.  In total, 63 organizations have applied to host one of our students;
  • We have raised $1.8 million in philanthropy and have a pathway to sustainability through earned revenue (from the colleges and social sector organizations) by 2021;
  • We have been profiled in The Boston Globe, WGBH radio, Fortune Magazine, and numerous college-focused publications.  Here is a recent article about our partnership with Clark University.

Check out College for Social Innovation graduate Emma talking about what she learned reading Of Mice and Men with an incarcerated man through her internship at Petey Greene, what Eriberto learned about telling his story, and how Jonathan learned the importance of asking "Why do you do what you do?":


 

    Does the Arc of The Moral Universe Really Bend Toward Justice?

    By Eric Schwarz

    In my day to day life, I’m as optimistic as they come.  My friend Charlie Rose once told me that I wasn’t just a “pie in the sky” optimist, I was a “whole bakery in the sky” optimist.  Yet for 20 years – like many social activists – I’ve talked more about what’s wrong with the world than what’s right.  Ten years ago I wrote a paper saying the American Dream was ending and opportunity declining.  Recently I’ve joined many education reformers and social entrepreneurs to recite a litany of concerns about achievement gaps, failing public schools, and an urgent need to abandon our current failed approach.

    I’m starting to think that I – that we – have been fundamentally wrong.  It’s not that we don’t face huge problems and huge injustices.  We do.  In many areas social progress is too slow and in some areas we are sliding backwards.  But I am coming to believe that a “glass half empty” description of our current reality – a frame that mostly talks about problems with our economy, our education system, and our public institutions – is fundamentally inaccurate and may actually undermine future progress.   

    Our Founding Social Innovation Fellows - Fall 2016

    Our Founding Social Innovation Fellows - Fall 2016

    I’ve been thinking about these issues as I work with colleagues to launch College for Social Innovation – a new venture to educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers to tackle humanity’s tough challenges.

    Sean Fogarty, Senior in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at UNH, is interning at Green City Growers

    Sean Fogarty, Senior in Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at UNH, is interning at Green City Growers

    Last night I spoke to our awesome pilot cohort of 14 students – college sophomores, juniors, and seniors enrolled in our fully-credited, semester-long internship program that matches diverse cohorts of students with mentors at some of Boston’s best social change organizations.  I spoke about why I think it’s the best time in human history to be a problem solver. It's a great time to be a problem solver in part because there are big problems.  Climate change, economic inequality, racism, terrorism.  These are big problems and we’ll need waves of creative, wise, team-oriented problem solvers to address them.  

    It’s also a great time to be a problem solver because we have huge momentum.  The arc of history really is bending toward justice, as Dr. Martin Luther King suggested it would in his 1964 commencement address at Wesleyan University.  Turn on the TV or listen to many political leaders and you hear that things are getting worse – that our very existence and way of life is threatened by incompetent government leaders or evil capitalists.  But in actuality, across a range of issues the evidence shows we are making extra-ordinary progress. We are building a more just world with more learning, more opportunity, more wealth, more safety, and more access to human rights.  

    • Compared to the 1950s, almost four times as many human beings live in countries where they vote for their leaders and enjoy basic human rights.

    • Violence due to war and/or terrorism is down and violent crime in the US since 1992 has declined dramatically.  In the early 1990s, one in twelve Americans was a victim of violent crime every year.  Today it’s one in forty-eight.

    • In the last 20 years the percentage of the world’s population living in extreme poverty declined from 37.1 percent to 9.6 percent

    • Since 1980 real after-tax income for Americans in the bottom income quintile (the bottom fifth) has grown by 46 percent (after adjusting for inflation).  For Americans in the middle three quintiles, real after-tax income grew by 41 percent in this same time period.  Wealthy people did better – particularly the top 1 percent – but the critique of many that average families have made no progress just isn’t true.

    • Finally, did you know that despite persistent educational achievement gaps today’s African-American and Latino 9th graders are as proficient in math as the average African-American or Latino 12th grader was in 1980?  Did you know that the race-based academic achievement gap has been cut in half since the 1950s and that the college access (but not college completion) gap is almost gone?

    Gabrielle Greaves, Junior in English & Women's Studies at UNH, is an intern at The Theater Offensive

    Gabrielle Greaves, Junior in English & Women's Studies at UNH, is an intern at The Theater Offensive

    I’m not advocating for some happy talk narrative that minimizes our challenges or raises false hopes.  We live amidst severe injustices that do and should cause outrage.  But the outrages we face today should not turn us into cynics.  Just as research shows overwhelmingly that children learn more when they develop a growth mindset, I believe society will progress more if we adopt a societal growth mindset.  We need to cultivate belief that change is possible by studying and celebrating the real positive change happening all around us.  

    I believe we are more likely to solve tomorrow’s big problems if we recognize the progress we are making today.  And I worry we undermine our efforts to make progress when we tell the American public that our public and private institutions are broken, that little is working, and that the glass is half-empty and getting emptier.

     

    Eric Schwarz is the co-founder and CEO of College for Social Innovation
    eric.schwarz@collegeforsocialinnovation.org
    Twitter: 
    @ericschwarz1984

    Doing well while doing good

    By Eric Schwarz

    Millions of words have been written about “doing well while doing good” – the idea that businesses can make a profit while also doing good in the world.  Less has been written about the idea that individuals – including first generation college students – can also “do well while doing good.”  Yet the truth, underscored by recently released national and Massachusetts data, is there are millions of opportunities for young people to build good careers (doing well) while solving problems in their communities and around the world (doing good).

    The new data is really exciting because it underscores the dual purpose of College for Social Innovation - to educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers AND to open the doors of opportunity to more young people by equalizing access to the kind of great internships and great mentors that often launch careers and change lives.

    Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the nonprofit sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the US economy (Figure 1). Jobs in the nonprofit sector are more stable as they tend to be service-oriented (and therefore unlikely to be outsourced or computerized) and also relatively recession-proof as they rely on a mix of funding from government, user fees, and philanthropy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the non-profit sector as a whole grew by 8.5 percent in the five-year period from 2007 to 2012, adding about one million jobs, while the for-profit sector shrunk by 3 percent.  Over the same five year period, overall wages, not adjusted for inflation, grew by 26.3 percent in the nonprofit sector and by 7.6 percent in the for-profit sector.

    The social sector as a whole (including nonprofits and government) boasts 33 million full-time jobs – 20 million of them requiring a college degree.  Millions more work in social mission businesses.  Surprisingly (at least to me), pay and benefits in the social sector is competitive.  If your goal coming out of college is to get to a six-figure salary while still in your 20s and to eventually land in the top 1% (a salary north of $300,000), a for-profit career in finance, consulting, or law is likely the best way to go.  But if your goal is earning a solid middle- to upper middle-income salary and building a purpose-rich career - then the social sector is a great option.  

    A Bureau of Labor Statistics report said the average non-profit job pays more than the average for-profit job, represented in the chart above. That’s partly because a lot of the low-end minimum wage jobs are for-profit (think fast food).  When you go up the wage scale and look at management jobs that require a college degree, the private sector generally pays slightly more, but when you factor in benefits like health care, overall compensation in the social sector is competitive.

    College for Social Innovation has a mission of educating and inspiring the next generation of problem solvers.  We’re looking to get great people into the social sector and help them build the skills they’ll need to strengthen organizations tackling humanity’s tough challenges.  We also think the social sector represents a great career opportunity for anyone, including low-income and first generation college students.  

    These ideas were front and center last week as we welcomed 100-plus fun-loving colleagues in the social sector to celebrate the formal opening of our new headquarters near Boston’s South Station.  Represented at the opening were great social mission businesses like Freight Farms and Green City Growers – both helping low-income communities grow healthy food while reducing food miles and, therefore, global warming.  Non-profits like Citizen Schools and The Possible Project spoke to the power of experiential learning to accelerate opportunity for middle school and high school students. College access programs such as Let’s Get Ready, UAspire, One Goal, and Bottom Line described how they increasingly see their mission as not just getting low-income students into college but through college and into good careers.

    As College for Social Innovation works to develop a better, bigger, and more diverse talent pipeline for social change, we are particularly excited to shape career opportunities for those coming from families and communities still trying to gain access to good jobs at good wages.  Two-thirds of the students in our founding cohort of students are first generation students, students of color, and/or low-income.  Our aim is to open the door to good middle class jobs for millions of underserved college students while simultaneously helping thousands of social sector organizations tackle humanity’s tough challenges -- truly doing well while doing good!


    Eric Schwarz is the co-founder and CEO of College for Social Innovation
    eric.schwarz@collegeforsocialinnovation.org
    Twitter: 
    @ericschwarz1984
     

    What I've Learned in my Internship (and Out of the Classroom!)

    By Stephanie Morales

     

    I am standing in a crowded elevator, steps away from reporting for my first day as College for Social Innovation's summer intern. I remember feeling similarly my first day of college: intimidated, excited, and completely out of place. I try not to let the first jitters get the best of me as I remind myself to breathe and be confident. "Fake it until you make it," I repeat to myself. I start my day by constructing a work-plan with my supervisor and grow anxious about whether I will ever reach my goals and finish impending projects. I begin to grasp the truth for myself that success in academia, GPA, and bookish knowledge are not the only ingredients in the coveted recipe for success. This work won't just be for the eyes of my professor. My work will be seen by my teammates and the public, which makes it feel more important and influential. No classroom could have prepared me for this. 

    Fast forward to nine weeks later, and I've met my goals and surpassed expectations of what I aspired to accomplish. It was not long ago when I stumbled over my words in meetings more often that not. But last week, I stood up in front of the team to give my elevator pitch for our organization and a round of applause followed. Working on projects independently where nobody outlined "Step 1, 2, 3..." was both refreshing and somewhat uncomfortable. Instead, I had a lot of creative freedom to design the projects on my own. I was nervous, at first, that I would make mistakes, but that discomfort was what pushed me to grow and what sharpened my critical thinking skills. Two months ago, if someone had asked me what I want to do with my life, I would've said I had no clue. If someone were to ask me that question now, well... I'd still say I'm not so sure! But after my experience with CfSI, the future seems like less of a scary place and more so a place with endless opportunities and fulfillment. I look back and smile at the memories of my 'growing pains' as I like to call them. I only came out stronger in the end, in spite of, or perhaps because of them. I have been challenged more in my time with CFSI than in most of the classrooms I have stepped foot in during my undergraduate career. 

    The positive impact of my internship only reaffirms what I have known all along. College students should have more internships where they can contribute to an organization while learning about themselves in a professional work environment. Unfortunately, many internships remain unpaid or difficult to obtain unless students or their families are well connected. This means that students of diverse backgrounds often miss out on chances for experiential learning, which in turn creates an opportunity gap that CfSI is aiming to close as they move forward. 
       
    As a first-generation and minority student, College for Social Innovation's hope to make internships accessible to more diverse populations resonated with me. I remember the frustration I felt when someone told me that I needed to already have established connections, at the age of 20, to find an internship. That attitude perpetuates a vicious cycle of those who are less privileged not having access to beneficial internships, and in turn struggling to find a job after graduation. With CfSI's new program Semester in the City, I hope that more students like me have access to internships that set them on the right path to success. 

    What is Semester in the City? Imagine leaving the lecture halls behind for a chance to pursue an internship in a new city - while still earning college credits. Not only will students be introduced to the ways of the working world, it will expose them to the social sector, a fast-growing field built around improving lives, communities, and the world around us. College for Social Innovation wants to dismantle the notion that you cannot do good if you also want to do well. Through their participation, students will gain valuable skills and real-world experience, both of which fall under what employers aren't seeing in recent graduates. Along with that, they will be able to put discovery of purpose at the forefront of their minds. 

    This fall semester, 15 Social Innovation Fellows from the University of New Hampshire and Clark University arrive in Boston to work for various social change organizations. They are about to do just what I described and beyond. As the inaugural cohort, they will set a precedent for how much impact the program can truly have on students. There is no question that there is important learning to be found in the confines of a classroom. But we students should step out of them for other learning opportunities in order to thrive after graduation. Now that I have had my own transformative experience, I feel more confident than ever that College for Social Innovation will actualize their mission of educating and inspiring the next generation of problem-solvers. 

    Internship Power

    By Eric Schwarz

     

    Thanks to Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker for calling attention to unpaid and uncredited summer internships as an overlooked but surprisingly potent driver of inequality ("Internships Are Not a Privilege").

    As the privileged beneficiary of an unpaid internship for a US Senate re-election campaign -- an internship obtained and paid for through parental connections -- I know first-hand the power of well-structured internships to build skills and networks that change lives.  In my case, the unpaid internship led directly to my first paid job after college and also to my first job in the social sector, where I have built a career, serving most recently as Co-Founder and CEO of the College for Social Innovation.  I didn't realize it at the time, but now I understand that of 2000 students in my college graduating class, I was one of just a handful with access to the type of well-supported, highly-networked, mentor-rich experience I benefited from.

    At College for Social Innovation our aspiration is to equalize access to the career-building power of well-designed internships. Just as an internship changed my life and changed Darren Walker's life, we think every college student deserves access to one or more meaningful work experiences --experiences that may include making copies or entering data but also include purposeful projects, feedback from a mentor, and access to successful professionals.  A recent study by the Gallup organization, the Gallup-Purdue Index, indicated that college students who had access while in college to a job or internship related to their studies were twice as likely to be successful in their careers. 

    Unfortunately, well-supported paid internships are a scarce commodity, particularly so in the social sector and in for-profit start-ups that are fast-growing but cash poor.  Also, as Nate Silver and colleagues point out in their recent article on summer jobs, well-connected wealthier youth are more likely to land a dwindling supply of summer jobs than the lower-income youth who need them most.  Good unpaid internships are theoretically less scarce.  But as Walker points out -- and as my experience underscores -- unpaid internships usually go to wealthier students who get a subsidy from their parents.   

    We believe that College for Social Innovation offers a way to massively scale the type of experiences Walker and I benefited from.  Rather than offering money that many employers don't have -- or supporting internships with finite philanthropy -- our plan is to offer college credit.  Not just one or two credits but a full semester of credit for a full semester of work.  By offering fully-credited internships -- complemented by powerful skill-building and reflective sessions one night a week plus Fridays -- we believe we can attract diverse students and advance our mission to educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers for humanity's toughest challenges.

    Our Fall 2016 student cohort from our founding partner, University of New Hampshire

    Our Fall 2016 student cohort from our founding partner, University of New Hampshire

    In our upcoming inaugural semester, two-thirds of our students will be low-income, first generation college students, and/or students of color.  They are students like Linda, an Ethiopian-American who wrote: "I know that if I want a successful career in education policy I need to be confident in my ability to analyze and interpret data, write policy, and many more skills. I hope to learn these skills and much more through this opportunity". 

    By convincing colleges to offer full credit to students who complete a semester in our program -- and by leveraging mentors and meaningful work in the fast-growing sector -- we believe we can craft a solution to the big social justice challenge Walker highlights.  

    A new approach to talent challenges in the social sector: College for Social Innovation

     

    Joined at The Boston Foundation by more than 100 colleagues, supporters, and social sector leaders representing 70 different organizations, we had the opportunity to discuss Looming Challenges and Promising Opportunities in Boston’s Social Sector - what they are, why we all need to come together to address them, and how our model will support  that effort.

     

    This event enabled us to share our idea with leaders on the ground doing this work. Here’s what we learned:

    1. You agree that talent development is a big challenge - and you’re ready to tackle it.

    2. As we embark to build this movement, it’s important to always listen and learn, and to remain nimble, humble, and idealistic.

    3. It’s crucial to bring together students from diverse backgrounds, communities, and disciplines in order to build a talent pipeline that will push for innovative and collaborative approaches to society’s greatest challenges.

    4. We must be a partner and a leader.

     

     

    The social sector is growing faster than any other part of the US economy. With this growth comes the opportunity to create meaningful and lasting change in our communities and at scale. However, the social sector currently lacks the infrastructure and resources needed to match this growth, particularly related to finding skilled, knowledgeable talent for staff roles at all levels.

     

     

    As society increasingly turns to nonprofit organizations, in particular, to address problems, it’s crucial to focus on developing talent to lead in creating meaningful impact in and serving our communities. Right now, we don’t have the talent pipeline to achieve our goals: nonprofit leaders we surveyed overwhelmingly agreed that the current talent pool is not big enough, strong enough, or diverse enough to best serve our missions.

     

    College for Social Innovation aims to build a bigger, better, and more diverse talent pipeline for social change. Our model provides opportunities for college students to earn a semester or more of credit for well-supported fellowships in the social sector. We’re starting by partnering with leading colleges to place students in semester-long, full-time, full-credit Social Innovation Fellowships with social sector leaders in the Boston area. Students will learn through job-related assignments and relevant seminars and reflection activities, all of which will help them build career-based competencies and a network. Over time we will scale College for Social Innovation to additional cities and enroll thousands of students, helping to inspire and train a new generation of problem solvers.

    We are excited to carry forward the momentum of this event and build an incredible program this fall for our Fellows, Host Organizations, and College Partners alike. Hungry for more information about building the social sector talent pipeline? Read about our program here!

    Back to School: How Positive Internships Impact the Classroom

    by Carolyn Riley

    It’s the first week of Fall! This has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Maybe because I have been on a student’s schedule for my entire life, the start of a new academic year is when I reflect and make my “New Year’s Resolutions”. Personally, I am super excited to be entering my final year at the University of New Hampshire; but one of the things I quickly noticed as the fall semester began, is that I am not in the majority. My friends and peers are excited to be the big kids on campus but there is an overarching fear of “the unknown.” What are we going to do when we graduate?

    This past summer  interned full time with College for Social Innovation. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my academic/work life, but also one of the most pivotal -- a foundation for my career. About a month ago I had an informal interview with Eric, my supervisor and the Founder of College for Social Innovation (CfSI), where we reflected on my full time internship, which was the first “office” experience of my life. Now that I am reflecting on how I can improve my classwork this school year, I am seeing just how great an impact my summer experience is already having on my success in the classroom.

    Now that I have a much clearer ability to view the correlation between theory and practice, I have noticed myself being more engaged in class, and more focused when studying.

    Another lesson, which took me by surprise, is how much more comfortable I am approaching Professors and participating in class. After spending the summer always being the youngest person in the room I have seen a notable improvement in my comfortability in engaging with my Professors and Advisors. In fact, I would almost go as far as to say I am better at talking with “grown ups” than with students my age :D.

    Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned, which I will take with me as I begin the job hunt, is that finding the right job for you isn’t just about the industry you want to work in, or what the company looks like on paper, it’s about finding a company with a strong culture and clear values. At CfSI I have never been treated like “some 20 year old college student.” My thoughts and opinions have always been welcomed, and never dismissed (and I only had to fetch the coffee once!).

    But while I get to take away these great lessons and advantages from my internship, we all know that this experience is much too uncommon, especially for students with less privilege. I am now walking away with a much stronger resume, including deliverables I can use as an example of my skills. (One of these deliverables being my final presentation at a showcase at UNH, which you can view here).

    College for Social Innovation is striving to bring these opportunities to a broader, more diverse student pool, and I am so encouraged by the support and growth we have seen just over these past few months. Now, CfSI is expanding its core team and planning to hire two Service Year Fellows -- young leaders who will be working fulltime within a few weeks, helping to build the organization so it’s ready to receive 100 undergraduate “Social Innovation Fellows (including an estimated 50 from UNH) in the 2016-17 school year. These two leaders will be key components to the startup team, bringing the experiences I had as founding intern to life. I invite you to check out our Indiegogo campaign where we are raising money to pay for these two Fellows, and contribute if you can. We appreciate any and all support.

    The Excitement is the "Sausage Making"!

    By Co-Founder & Managing Director, Lisa Jackson, Ph.D.

    Being at the founding stages of a startup like College for Social Innovation (CfSI) is a feeling unlike any other. Taking an innovative idea and transforming it into a scalable model to drive change is no small feat – you need a strong, dedicated team, who can communicate and work well together. While there is a lot of pressure at these early stages, there are also many rewards as you reach new milestones and see your team grow, along with its mission. 

    Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the city of Boston speaking at the CfSI public launch.

    Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the city of Boston speaking at the CfSI public launch.

    One of our recent milestones was our launch event, hosted on the new lawn in front of Boston City Hall.  On Wednesday September 16th, over 100 of our friends and colleagues came to learn about and support this endeavor. My dear friend and colleague, Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education for the City of Boston, spoke about the need for the talent pipeline CfSI will generate over time and how critical social innovation is to city government (thank you to the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics for all your help and support!). Yusi Turell, Co-Director, Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise at the University of New Hampshire told the audience how important experiential learning is for undergraduate students and how excited the University is to be CfSI’s founding higher education partner.

    While by all accounts the event was successful, it was some of the seemingly more mundane activities that took place before the event that made it so exciting for me.  Things like, 

    • sending emails to friends, family, colleagues asking them to come,

    • figuring out what my remarks would be,

    • unrolling the banner we used at the event that had our logo on it in bright orange – then figuring out how to hang it up,

    • meeting and working with 5 volunteers who came to blow up balloons, serve food 

    • register guests, and hand out swag and, setting up tables and chairs on the lawn (praying the sun would go down just a little!).

    “Sausage Making” as I call it is where I tend to derive my energy and excitement and we are definitely in the throes of that right now.  We are building partnerships with colleges and universities, we are creating the selection process to identify what social sector organizations will take our Fellows, we are trying to find our Fellows a place to live when they come to Boston, we are continuing to build out our website and develop our CRM, and the list goes on and on…

    While our team of four (including two interns from UNH) has done an awesome job to this point, now is the time to bring on more talent so we can accelerate the work and hit the goal of kicking-off the pilot cohort of Social Innovation Fellows in fall semester 2016.  We are currently hiring two National Service Fellows to work with us. These two young leaders will play an integral role as members of College for Social Innovation's startup team, working closely with us to invent a whole new approach to a college education while pioneering a new approach to national service at the same time. 

    I invite you to check out our Indiegogo campaign where we are raising money to pay for these two Fellows, and contribute if you can. We appreciate any and all support.

    Thank you,

    Lisa