In 2014, I left a promising career on Wall Street in the foreign currency exchange market to begin a search for something more meaningful in life. A year before that, I had attended Professor Mike Caslin’s Social Entrepreneurship class at CUNY Baruch College. As the Founder and President of GCSEN, “Professor Caz” taught me how to “Make Meaning, Make Money and Move the World to a Better Place” by encouraging me to become an active social entrepreneur.
My passion has always been enjoying the great outdoors and I was thinking of ways to share that with those who need it most. As my final assignment in his class, I created a pitch deck for my proposed company, Outdoor Promise, as a way to promote the venture and possibly raise money for its start up. I pitched the idea in two startup pitch com- petitions in New York City: the IBM sponsored SmartPitch at Baruch College and Babson College (MA) NYC Rocket Pitch 2014, and made important contacts.
Outdoor Promise is now a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase exposure and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) for urban, disadvantaged youth by integrating the study of those concepts with exploration of the natural world. Our programs create opportunities for collaboration skills, problem solving, and critical thinking. I believe that using the outdoors as a classroom sparks students’ curiosity and ignites a desire to learn more about the interconnectedness of our world.
So far, we’ve exposed hundreds of inner-city children to the outdoors using alternative teaching methods and hands-on experiences. Exposure to nature in New York’s great parks helps cultivate a sense of environmental responsibility and civic stewardship, contributing to the preservation of our planet. Today, along with my work with Outdoor Promise, I work full-time with GCSEN, as Director of Operations. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my journey and help the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow develop their ideas and passions. If you’re looking to get in touch with your passion and want to turn it into a real social business venture, get in touch with us! www.gcsen.com
-Ronald Zorrilla, Founder & CEO, Outdoor Promise