A year ago, a J-term class along with Professor Jon Isham and several key advisors developed the framework for the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and this week, the Center is celebrating its official launch with a series of lectures, workshops, and keynotes by top social entrepreneurs. Having been a member of that class, I can personally say that the work that will be done and that has already been done at this center is very important and very exciting and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.
Social entrepreneurship at its core is about finding new and innovative solutions for challenging problems. It is about creativity and persistence and coming up with solutions that correct not only the problem at hand, but the systemic causes behind these problems. A brief description from those at the center itself:
The Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship is designed to be a hub in a growing global network of schools, colleges, NGOs, government agencies, businesses, and foundations that are committed to sharing ideas and resources in order to build 21st century solutions.
This week, the MCSE is hosting its first annual symposium on social entrepreneurship. If you missed the opening address last night by Bill Drayton, Ashoka Founder, don’t worry, there is plenty more to come. Check out the full schedule of events to see when lectures, keynotes, and other important events are occurring. For those on campus, a series of exciting workshops are starting in just a few hours at noon, focusing on a range of topics surrounding the issue of social entrepreneurship.
After the jump, a little more about what the Center will be doing into the future.
The Center for Social Entrepreneurship will be structured around three interrelated programs. The first is an annual symposium, bringing innovators and social entrepreneurs to Middlebury each January. While the center will sponsor lectures at partner institutions around the world, the symposium itself will occur at Middlebury each year.
Second, the Center will be host to a grant program that will award approximately 300 grants each year, of varying sizes. These grants will be distributed to a mix of high school students, college students, and recent graduates. It is important to note that this center reaches its arms far beyond the bubble of Middlbury. The project recipients need not be Middlebury affiliated, and grants are intended to support projects both locally and world-wide. As a point of reference, projects might be similar to those supported by the Davis Projects for Peace program, or those promoted by MiddStart, a new platform for fundraising for Middlebury student projects might be similar to projects sponsored by the MCSE in the future.
Thirdly, the Center will be host to training workshops for aspiring social entrepreneurs. These training workshops will ensure that grant recipients and aspiring social entrepreneurs have all the tools they need to have the most successful projects.
Anyway, the point of all of this is that the MCSE is going to be an exciting new part of Middlebury and of Middlebury’s commitment to creativity and innovation. I couldn’t be more excited about what the future has in store for this center, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen.