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.
As we move into the home stretch of our first “Semester in the City” internship program and prepare to graduate 14 inaugural Social Innovation Fellows on Dec. 16, I am thankful for the enthusiasm, resiliency, and warmth that has characterized these promising young problem solvers.
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.
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).
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.
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").
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.
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?
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.
By Graduate Fellow, Matt Wilhelm
Ten years ago this month, I took my first full-time job after college as an AmeriCorps member serving with City Year. Not only was I given a structured opportunity to put my idealism to work as a tutor and mentor in a middle school and have a positive, measured impact on the students we served, but I also learned a lot about leadership.
What I lacked in a paycheck ($250 weekly stipend) was compensated by a clear sense of purpose, project and people management experience, access to leaders across all sectors, a great mentor, and a community of colleagues that would become lifelong friends. It was the best professional decision I ever made.
Following my two terms as an AmeriCorps member, I had the opportunity to join the founding teams of two organizations – ServeNext.org and Calling All Crows – both aimed at creating more opportunities for young Americans to serve.
Working on the startup team of a new social venture is an amazing experience, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
It requires long hours, an unwavering commitment to the mission of the new organization as well as to your co-workers, and the ability to juggle multiple projects – especially those for which you feel totally unqualified to lead.
It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s humbling. But, ultimately, when you see vision become reality – it becomes totally worth it.
So if committing to a year of national service and joining the startup team of a new social venture doesn’t scare you, but rather sounds like the challenge for which you’ve been desperately searching, then look no further…
College for Social Innovation is looking to hire two Service Year Fellows to start full-time work on or before Oct. 1, 2015 and to work in the fellowship role for nine months with an option to renew for up to two years.
Service Year Fellows will report directly to the Managing Director or another senior staff member; work closely with Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of College for Social Innovation; and play an integral role in the organization’s startup operations.
Service Year Fellows will help College for Social Innovation build capacity in the following areas:
Develop comprehensive marketing plan to reach multiples audiences utilizing varied media;
Support development/fundraising plan including foundation, corporate, and individual giving;
Build new organizational systems (i.e. human resources, technical support, training, evaluation, etc.);
Develop partnerships with colleges and universities, including recruitment, selection, and training; and
Develop partnerships with social sector organizations, including recruitment, selection, and training.
To apply to become a Service Year Fellow with College for Social Innovation, please click here.
For more information on the opportunity, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d be excited to talk with you about what it’s like to work startup on College for Social Innovation and/or what it’s like to do a service year. The two together, in my opinion, are the perfect combination!