Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship: 2012/2013 Year in Review

Two years after its founding in May 2011, Wesleyan University’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) is becoming a hub of activity. We are cultivating the long-standing Wesleyan ethos of social justice and entrepreneurial spirit as we carry out our mission: to support students and alumni interested in creating and sustaining programs, businesses, and organizations that advance the public good.

This year, the PCSE offered 36 events featuring 30 alumni and 5 students, awarded 22 grants to 44 applicants, provided bi-weekly student counseling hours to dozens of  undergraduates, and added more than 30 alumni volunteers to our growing network.

2012/2013 highlights include:

  • Five $5,000 Seed Grants were awarded to individual students or student teams with plans for a new venture or a scaling up of an existing enterprise.
    • Evan Okun ’13 will launch a new program with Circles and Ciphers, a leadership development organization in Chicago that fuses restorative justice practices with hip-hop culture to empower and support predominantly young African-American and Latino males.
    • Hailey Sowden ’15 and Kate Enright ’15 will launch The Middletown Food Project, a subsidized, low-cost, community-supported agriculture (CSA) program for low-income families in Middletown, Connecticut.
    • Shyam Desai ’15 and Rehan Mehta ’14 will use their seed grant to support The MINDS Foundation, which works to increase access to mental health care and reduce economic stress and social stigma around mental illness in rural India.
    • Nina Gerona ’15 is launching a data collection project for Big Tree Farms, a supply-chain farming company in Bali, which will assess and improve living standards for their farmers.
    • Faye Phillips ’13 designed a Women and Girls Hygiene Program for Maji Safi Group, a disease-prevention and health-promotion NGO which empowers communities in rural Tanzania to fight waterborne and water-related diseases.
  • Along with a financial prize, Seed Grant winners are paired with alumni mentors and given 24-hour access to the PCSE Board Room and preference for PCSE workshops. They are expected to give back to the Center with regular blog posts and peer counseling hours. Through these experiences, we seek to continue the trend of success by young Wesleyan social entrepreneurs like Kennedy Odede ’12 and Jessica Posner ’09 (Shining Hope for Communities), Raghu Appasani ’12 (The MINDS Foundation), Max Perel-Slater ’11 (Maji Safi Group), and Tasmiha Khan ’12 (Brighter Dawns).
  • In April, Joy Anderson ’89 presented Structure Lab to a group of 13 undergraduates. After the 3-hour session (a free, pared-down version of Joy’s day-long, $300/person workshop), one student remarked “This was the best thing I have ever attended at Wesleyan.” Dr. Anderson taught a course entitled “Money and Social Change: Innovative Paradigms and Strategies” during the Fall 2012 semester, and she will repeat this course in Fall 2013.
  • The Patricelli Center hosted or co-hosted four off-campus events for alumni. In October, more than 75 people attended “The Future of Social Innovation: A Conversation on Social Entrepreneurship, New Sources of Capital, and Careers that Change the World” in NYC and 65 people attended “The New Impact Economy” in San Francisco. These panels featured Shawn Dove ’84 (Campaign for Black Male Achievement), Sasha Chanoff ’94 (RefugePoint), Jessica Posner Odede ’09 and Kennedy Odede ’12 (Shining Hope for Communities), Tim Freundlich ’90 (ImpactAssets), Scott Donohue ’86 (Year Up, Inc.), John Perry Barlow ’69 (Algae Systems), Corey Block ’01 (Treasure Island Job Corps), Joshua Kagan ’01 (Carbon War Room), Alex Rosen ’08 (GREE), Sara Chieco ’94 (Non-Profit Business Analyst), and Shivani Siroya ’04 (InVenture).
  • With a $500 Patricelli Center Enrichment Grant, Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 designed her own 2-week intensive coding course. Ola will use the skills she learned in a venture she is beginning to develop this summer.
  • Eleven rising juniors and seniors will be able to gain valuable experience doing unpaid summer experiences thanks to Patricelli Center Internship Grants. Five of these students will learn collaboratively as part of the intern cohort at The Hub San Francisco — “where change goes to work.”
  • The Patricelli Center sought out alumni mentors for Mfundi Makama ’14 and Greg Shaheen ’13, Wesleyan’s 2013 recipients of the prestigious $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant.

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship relies on some key partnerships:

  • The PCSE, Center for Community Partnerships (CCP), and Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life (ACSPL), collaborate as a hub of civic engagement theory, research, experience, and practice. We are all housed together in the Allbritton Center in the heart of campus (formerly Davenport Campus Center).
  • The Career Center’s job and internship databases, resume service, and workshops complement PCSE programs.
  • The PCSE Advisory Board and a coalition of student social entrepreneurs provide invaluable advice and support for the Center.
  • More than 1,000 members of Wesleyan Alumni in Philanthropy and Public Service (WAPPS) promote service and social impact among the alumni community, and they co-host events with the Patricelli Center.
  • Social entrepreneurship colleagues from other institutions come together through AshokaU to share ideas and resources.

Social metrics and measuring impact are crucial for ventures being launched by our students, and we apply these same concepts to our work. In 2013/2014, we will begin measuring outcomes of PCSE programs, not just outputs.

2012/2013 was a year of rapid growth for the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and we look forward to continued progress and impact in 2013/2014 and beyond.