Norton, Massachusetts: Currently at Wheaton College in Massachusetts there is a room full of 18 college age students spending a week of their summers from May 22nd to May 26th at the second ever Meaning Makers Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp held by the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN).
These 18 peers, both genders equally represented, are learning how to make sustainable social impact with their truly innovative ventures. The breadth of these ideas would astound you and amongst GCSEN’s students there are budding entrepreneurs focused on: reducing bullying rates in schools, teaching how to best implement technology in schools, making beauty products less harmful on skin, providing stress relief for Syrian refugees and so many more awe-inspiring passions.
The GCSEN Foundation is a ground-breaking program sponsored by the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation. Diana Davis Spencer is a visionary philanthropist and Wheaton College class of ’60 alumnae who saw the transformative power of teaching college students how to start their own social enterprises. The Meaning Makers Boot Camp is designed to inspire, teach, and support college students. These students are experiencing the importance of social entrepreneurship and learning key methods and frameworks used for actualizing their visions of helping move the world to a better place.
To do this they will focus on creating a “4P-Impact©” people, profit, planet, and place. GCSEN does this by teaching students to think both globally and locally when considering how to make a change.
The President of Wheaton College, Dennis Hanno, one of America’s most innovative and effective college presidents, understands the power of the GCSEN model for change and the power of a 4P-Impact focus for millennial students. He established Wheaton College as GCSEN’s national pilot campus. In President Hanno’s words, “I believe that innovative social entrepreneurs can create the kind of change we need now to address the critical problems we are facing. Wheaton has chosen to work with GCSEN so that our students can develop the confidence and skills needed to become true change makers.”
Wheaton is committed to creating opportunities and hiring former students like Luke O’Neill creative writing major and graduate of the Meaning Maker Boot Camp ’16. He has his own business called Wolf and Tiger Games that is in the development process creating a Tabletop Role-Playing game thanks to the teaching of GCSEN foundation.
He came to the Meaning Makers Boot Camp a year ago with an idea to start a board and role-playing game company with my friend. He had the belief that by focusing on physical games, together they could move people away from their digital screen isolation and depression. By the end of the boot camp he left with a plan to create our tabletop role-playing game.
He and his business partner, Deen Naji, will use the game as a platform to work with community centers and engage people through games and help reduce stress and anxiety levels across the country. Deen Naji had previously used role-playing games as a way to overcome depression. Both Luke and Deen want to spread that relief to those who are suffering.
He has now been hired by GCSEN to write short biographies for their 18 certified Meaning Maker entrepreneurs. When asked about his belief on writing for others he said, “Every person is the main character in their own story and I want to tell those stories.”
Luke O’Neill grew from his experiences with GCSEN and other college students can as well. GCSEN is increasing confidence in college students and raising their ability to make meaning and make money for real, before graduation. Professor Mike Caslin, the founder of GCSEN, has built a world class program that offers social entrepreneurship education from staff members who are best in class, experienced members of the business world in their own right. This world renowned program is practical, academically rigorous, and action oriented.
GCSEN also supports its students beyond the summer boot camp with its recently launched web-based THEOS Community (Together We Help Each Other Succeed). It is a life-long alumni support community that includes coaching, professional references, access to capital, access to a social enterprise incubator and accelerator, advanced manufacturing, and intrapreneur/entrepreneur networking opportunities.
Of the current 18 students, there are people from across the United States and from five different countries around the world. GCSEN has students from: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, New York, Connecticut as well as from Quito, Ecuador; Hongzhou, China; Chongqing, China; Gibenyi, Rwanda; and Mumbai, India.
These students: Adaeze Anaebonam, Amber-Marie Wright, Claudine Humure, Dami Olubusi, Darshil Rathod, Enyu Wang, Gracie Callaghan, Heather Rothman, Joshua Alabre, Kyle McNicoll, Mateo Espinosa, Matthew Wollrath, Nathaniel Chretian-Mansur, Patrick Wang, Rebecca Rosenzweig, Richard Davies, Sol Martinez, and Sophia Hatzikos have similarly come to GCSEN with issues they care deeply about and solutions they want to focus on just like the previous boot camp did a year before them. In this program the students will gain the skills they need to advance their ideas and move the world to a better place.
GCSEN’s innovative flipped classroom is using a program developed for NASA called “Think Tank”. In using Think Tank, students were asked to place a slider on a number between 1 and 100. The number indicated how confident they felt about being able to launch their business. At the start of the day students averaged at 64% confidence towards their goal. By the end of just the first day that number had already increased to 77%. By the end of the fourth day the average confidence score had been raised to 89.9%.
GCSEN believes that millennials using social entrepreneurship will be the most productive and practical driving force for peace and prosperity around the globe. They have also designed their program using the leading edge MIT-edx learning platform, which is currently being used by 300 of the world’s top universities.