Published: Oct. 19, 2020 By
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

The Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility (CESR) and the Office of Diversity Affairs (ODA) are collaborating on a new event titled How to Make and Impact in Your Community. The event is designed for undergraduate students at Leeds who are interested in learning how to leverage their business skills to make a positive difference in the lives of others. This unique event is being moderated by Jesse Rivera (BS ‘22) and includes time for students to work with panelists in small groups to workshop an idea for a project. At the core of the event is thinking about how to merge a business skill set with a passion for impact. Students will come out of this event with a concrete idea of where they want to focus their community impact, and how to get started.

This event was developed after conversations with students about how to leverage their business skills to improve their communities, and builds on a long-standing partnership between CESR and ODA to ensure that programming around social impact and sustainability is relevant to diverse audiences. 

These questions make sense within the culture of social impact at Leeds. Among the existing opportunities for students are the Leeds Scholars program which includes a year long volunteer community impact project and a number of student clubs, for undergraduates and graduates, that offer student consulting for nonprofits. CESR also offers an Impact Internship program which supports companies with a focus on CSR and sustainability in hiring students, but those opportunities are very competitive and there are many more students interested in this work than existing opportunities. How to Make an Impact in Your Community builds on student excitement about social impact work by giving students access to professionals who can answer their questions, develop their networks, offer personal insights, and inspire students to start something of their own.

Student-run social enterprise projects are not unusual at Leeds. A number of current students and alumni have launched mission-oriented companies including Hapa Solutions, Thinking Huts and Internalyze. One benefit to projects like these are that they fulfill the experiential learning requirement for the Social Responsibility and Ethics (SRE) Certificate. The SRE certificate is a career differentiator for Leeds graduates. Employers have told CESR that students with the SRE certificate are more competitive compared to similarly qualified candidates without it. This is due in part to the classes in the program which build literacy and competency in social responsibility. But it is also due to the experiential learning requirement which gives students opportunities to apply the concepts that they are learning in their classes. Students who start their own project have the chance to get that hands-on experience working on an issue they care deeply about. 

CESR is excited about this program for another reason as well. We are committed to ensuring that our content is relevant and meaningful to diverse students. Collaborating with ODA ensures that we are working on content that is high priority for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and allows us to showcase what students from communities of color are already doing in the CSR and sustainability space. We look forward to strengthening this collaboration.

Panelists include:

Jeremy Brown, Founder at Startups Give Back and Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase. Startups Give Back is a volunteering event where people in the startup community work together with local nonprofits. Their mission is to make philanthropy a priority for startups from the beginning, rather than something that is added onto the corporate culture after success has been achieved.

Berenice Garcia Tellez, Economic Sustainability Specialist at City of Longmont. In her role, Berenice is working to support businesses located in Longmont. Many of these businesses are small and service oriented, and they do not always have access to investment capital. By showing how environmental sustainability is connected to long term economic viability, she is helping green the City while strengthening the local economy.

Mike McGuffee, CEO at Unite for Literacy. Mike has consulted with Native American tribes and large-scale international groups to make engaging, low-cost books available in every home, and to educate families on the importance of reading. He believes that all children have a right to experience the joy of reading, and that technology holds the key to book abundance for everyone.

It's not too late to attend! Email if you are interested in participating.