NORTON, Massachusetts, Dec. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN) Foundation and Wheaton College share an exciting mission to accelerate social entrepreneurship in higher education and teach social entrepreneurs how to make meaning, make money, and move the world to a better place – one campus, one local economy at a time!
GCSEN Foundation’s national campus pilot program with the Wheaton College Institute for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE) program was established with the support of visionary philanthropist and Wheaton alumna Diana Davis Spencer via the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation.
On November 17th, Wheaton’s Social Entrepreneurship Club took another bold step in making this shared vision a reality by sponsoring its third annual Social Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition. The competition provides students with an opportunity to practice “pitching” their idea for a socially responsible business venture to a panel of judges consisting of Wheaton President, Dennis Hanno, Kenneth Bray and Chris Melia from Wheaton’s faculty, and GCSEN CEO and founder Michael Caslin.
This year nine finalists participated. Business ideas ranged from social services organizations to crowdfunding platforms. Students received immediate feedback on how to improve both their pitch and strengthen their business model. $3,000 in venture grants and business coaching was awarded by the GCSEN Foundation.
The 4 top winners and their businesses include:
Heather Rotman – “Resilient Minds”, an anti-bullying campaign for middle schoolers.
Dami Olubusi – “Step for Success”, a step school (body percussion school) as a more constructive alternative activity for secondary schoolers.
Rishil Sheth – “Help Pay College”, a platform to help college students pay for college.
Santiago Mathison Muci – “Opportunity Filter (OPF)”, to ensure resumes contain the keywords and information that employers are looking for when applying for a job.
Many students will follow up this venture pitch with enrolling in the WISE Program, which begins with GCSEN’s week long social entrepreneur Meaning Makers Boot Camp, January 14-19, 2018 at Wheaton College.
First place winner, Heather Rotman, recounts her experience since completing the Meaning Makers Boot Camp and WISE program. “Prior to participating in the WISE/GCSEN program, I had an idea I felt passionately about, but I wasn’t quite sure how to start it. After being bullied in middle school for struggling with Trichotillomania, an impulse-control disorder that causes me to pull out my hair, I decided that I wanted to help others who’d been bullied to regain confidence, self-esteem and happiness. Resilient Minds will be a program that will help students who’ve been bullied and resultantly struggle with mental health issues. Resilient Minds will create a place where others can share their stories as a way to find healing, be surrounded by peers to find support and engage in community service as a way to regain a feeling of purpose. Thank you, WISE & GCSEN, for supporting me in this mission, for your generous financial contributions, and for believing in me, and helping to make one of my biggest dreams a reality.”
The Meaning Makers Boot Camp is an intensive, practical, blended learning experience, providing an overview of how to develop a “4P” (People, Planet, Place, and Profit) social entrepreneurship venture into a sustainable business model. The Boot Camp is a life changing learning experience and includes lectures, class exercises, guest speakers from around the globe, web-based learning supported by MIT’s Open edX platform and intensive curriculum and coaching by GCSEN’s team and distinguished lecturers. The students learn what it takes to go from business ideation to formulation to minimum viable product market entry, commercialization, transformative scale and harvest.
Students will then work on their new ventures through the 2018 spring semester. In May, the students will gather for an additional week of programming and support provided by Wheaton College and GCSEN Foundation to help them move their business ideas into reality where each will participate in a pitch and prototype presentation to a judging panel.