Supporting Innovation in Education

Posted: August 31, 2011 by Adrienne Cahill in Uncategorized

I just wrapped up my ten week Education Pioneers Fellowship last Friday, and I cannot believe how quickly the summer has come and gone! I had a great experience working with both Education Pioneers and my placement organization, Teach For America, and I am thrilled to read about the tremendous summer experiences that my fellow SIIFers had at their respective summer internships.

 When I initially accepted my offer from Education Pioneers, I did so with excitement and slight hesitation, as I was not immediately given a work assignment and was unsure of where I would be placed. My placement at Teach For America’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative (SEI) ended up being a great fit for me. SEI is part of TFA’s Alumni Affairs department and serves to provide resources and programming for TFA corps members and alumni who are interested in starting social enterprises, both for-profit and non-profit, related to education reform. TFA’s selection and training processes really favor independent and innovative thinkers, so it was no surprise to me that even before the creation of SEI that there were tons of entrepreneurial TFA alums – check out this Fast Company profile on just a few of them.

My specific role within SEI was to evaluate a series of workshop-based pilot programs, run in DC and San Francisco, designed to give participants the tools needed to launch their own social enterprises. After several weeks of familiarizing myself with the program and debriefing with various program participants and coordinators, I redesigned and reorganized the program workshops and resources and created an Innovation Program Toolkit that SEI could share with other TFA regional offices interested in running their own similar innovation and entrepreneurship program.

I had a fantastic summer developing innovation programming for TFA and it was a pleasure to work with their dedicated and motivated staff. I have no doubt that TFA’s work will continue to make great strides towards closing the achievement gap and it was an honor to have had a role in their work.

Celebrating Women of Style & Substance

Posted: August 21, 2011 by selenasoo in Uncategorized

Creating a Women’s Lifestyle Brand with Claudia Chan

For the past several months I’ve been working with entrepreneur Claudia Chan, who is launching an online media brand and talk show focused on profiling, interviewing, and celebrating women of style and substance. Over the summer we’ve secured interviews with iconic women such as Christy Turlington (supermodel turned global maternal health advocate) to emerging leaders such as 27-year old Alexa Von Tobel, who recently raised $24.5 million dollars for her company LearnVest, which educates women to take control of their personal finances. Of the 100 women we are profiling and interviewing, what they all have in common is a commitment to creating value-driven lives and careers, as well as a sincere passion for helping women.

It’s been exciting for me to work side by side such a visionary entrepreneur. Previously Claudia was the President of Shecky’s, a media and events company that has entertained over 1 million women across America with its popular “Girls Night Out” event series. With this new company, Claudia is shifting her mission from entertaining women to empowering and advancing women.

As a women’s lifestyle entrepreneur, Claudia is designing this new media brand for a mass audience — the women who read Vogue and Marie Claire — rather than only activists and niche groups. By sharing the stories and uncovering the wisdom of today’s most influential and inspirational women, we hope to open up the conversation about important women’s issues in a meaningful and accessible way.

The Content

The content we are producing is relevant to women across all aspects of their lives, including health, happiness, balance, and motherhood. We’re also looking at more serious questions such as what prevents women from rising to the top of corporations, why do so many women opt out of the workforce after having kids, how can we start changing this, and how would the world be different if men ran half our homes and women ran half our businesses and institutions? Furthermore, by featuring 100 female career role models and leaders who are doing work they love and making a difference, we want to remind our readers and viewers that, like the women we are showcasing, they are the CEOs and creators of their own lives. In spite of the numbers and statistics, anything is possible and the future has yet to be written.

The Status of Women and How We Can Change It

While in the United States men and women are equal under the law, we have not reached equality in the workplace or in our homes. An August 2011 study by Catalyst shows that of Fortune 500 CEOs only 2.8% are women, despite representing almost 50% of the labor force. Additionally, across all industries women earn less than men for the same work, and in our homes women are still expected to take on greater responsibilities than men.

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg so eloquently stated in her 2011 commencement speech to Barnard graduates, “…only when we get real equality in our governments, in our businesses, in our companies and our universities, will we start to solve this generation’s central moral problem, which is gender equality. We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”

The inequalities that women face globally extend beyond the office and the home. In their book Half the Sky, authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn lay out an agenda for three major abuses against women — sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape, and maternal mortality which claims one woman’s life a minute.

While the challenges that exist for women, both locally and globally, may feel insurmountable, there is one thing we know for sure — and that is that before we change the world, we have to change ourselves. This means educating ourselves on the issues that matter, as well as understanding ourselves and figuring out what our unique contribution to the world will be. What we are creating is more than a media brand, at it’s heart it is truly a lifestyle brand. To create the change we must be the change, which is ultimately a lifestyle decision we sincerely hope to inspire today’s generation of women to make.

Emprendedores en Chile

Posted: August 18, 2011 by Cecile in Uncategorized

It’s been over month since I left Santiago, and despite the cold weather there, I miss it terribly. I was there as eMBA consultant through Endeavor Global and worked for Araucania Yarns, the largest yarn exporter in Chile. Araucania’s yarns are hand (not machine) dyed, made from the highest quality and variety of natural materials, and produced in a spectrum of beautiful and sophisticated colors, which only a few players in the global industry can match. Araucania is in fact, the only producer in Chile that can export in that scale.

Araucania's yarns

The driving force behind the company is Michelle Boisier, Araucania’s Co-founder and CEO. I worked closely with her to develop a competitive analysis on the high-end yarn natural yarns market, and recommended pricing, distribution and marketing strategies. Working with Araucania allowed me to see up close and understand the opportunities and challenges faced by a small company operating in a niche market.

Shifting focus, I want to talk about Endeavor. Often viewed as a “non non-profit,” Endeavor supports high-growth entrepreneurs in emerging markets by giving them access to a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, local and international corporate executives and MBA students who together provide pro-bono consulting services. Endeavor selects entrepreneurs with a high potential to create impact: to generate revenues, profit and local jobs. All these help to foster an entrepreneurial culture and ultimately, contribute to the development of an economy— which to me, is incredibly social in nature.

On my last day, I presented my findings to Araucania’s advisory board, comprised of a caliber of professionals: a former CEO of Coca Cola Latin America, a veteran Endeavor entrepreneur, and an Araucania local adviser. We spent nearly three hours discussing the data and next steps for the company. Multiply those three hours by the three advisory board members (there are typically four I’m told) then by the 12 meetings in a year (at times they meet more than once a month). That adds up to over 100 hours of pro-bono time in a year for just one SME! To put things in greater perspective, Endeavor is present in 11 countries and has supported over 500 entrepreneurs.

After leaving Santiago, I continue to work with Michelle on the next stage of my project which focuses on expansion alternatives for her business. My time in Chile was incredible, to say the least. I met several Chilean entrepreneurs, a partner of a venture capital firm, and other eMBAs— all of whom share the same excitement I have for entrepreneurship and emerging markets.

Endeavor eMBAs in Elqui Valley

On the Road to Recovery

Posted: August 17, 2011 by Nick Malouin in Uncategorized

For the past eight weeks I have been working in Haiti with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a subsidiary of the Clinton Foundation that focuses on improving access to health services by encouraging better supply chain management, procurement and cooperation among stakeholders. A major issue in Haiti is the vast network of funders, NGOs, clinics and suppliers all working in the same area.  Despite sharing a common mission, there is a lack of communication among NGO activities, leading to duplication of efforts and major inefficiencies in the health system. That’s one of the reasons why the Clinton Foundation started working in Haiti, and since the earthquake in January, 2010 the influx of NGOs and outside funding has made this even more important.

My specific project this summer was working with HIV clinics in Haiti that have had issues providing a continuous supply of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to patients. One of the main concerns of ARV therapy is patients halting treatment, which can lead to drug resistance and more expensive treatment in the future. By keeping patients on therapy and ensuring that clinics properly manage their supply chain, more patients can be enrolled at lower costs.  I have been spending a week at each clinic, working with doctors, pharmacists, and hospital administrators in order to understand the treatment process and where the problems may lie. While each clinic has a unique set of issues, a common challenge is patient forecasting.  As prices decrease and patients are scaled up, each clinic must model patient demand in order to better predict the correct amount of supplies needed. Building tools to help clinics forecast drug supply and demand has been one of my priorities.

On a national level, what I have seen during my time in Haiti is encouraging, but immense challenges remain. Besides the usual difficulties facing a developing country, Haiti has a unique set of challenges. Eighteen months after the earthquake Haiti is still recovering and despite progress with debris removal, housing and basic sanitation, most experts believe reconstruction is barely half way to pre-earthquake levels. In addition, a national government has yet to form since election results were finalized in March.  It is difficult to negotiate funding with the Minister of Health when they have yet to be nominated. Still, there is a sense of optimism that things are getting better. The new President, Michel Martelly has indicated a desire to be more transparent and accountable to Haitians. He is encouraging foreign investment and emphasizing Haiti’s comparative advantages, including agriculture and tourism. The greatest challenge, however, may be managing expectations. With 3,000 NGOs operating in Haiti and billions of dollars spent, donors, the international community and Haitians are expecting results immediately. Developing the poorest country in the western hemisphere and building infrastructure essentially from scratch will probably take decades, requiring patience from everyone.

Donating to DonorsChoose.org

Posted: August 5, 2011 by sljohnson81 in Uncategorized

Confession #4: Until now, I had not made a donation on the DonorsChoose.org website. I’ve been working here for 9 weeks working on the Partnerships & Business Development team, which interfaces with corporations and foundations to create strategic partnerships to support classrooms in need, yet I myself could not speak to the donor user experience. This was about to change.

As I entered the website, I admit, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t have a specific subject area, resource or school in mind, so I decided to filter by location; didn’t hurt that this was the first filter listed. I’m from northern California, Tiburon to be exact, which is in Marin County, but usually when you think of high poverty or schools in need Marin County does not jump to mind. However, about 10 miles north of Tiburon, is a larger city, San Rafael with many low-income, Hispanic residents.  One of my early volunteer experiences was at the Pickleweed  Park Community Center in the San Rafael canal neighborhood and I also played softball at San Pedro Elementary School for many years, so when I saw a project listed from this elementary school I was drawn immediately.

Who I helped: 1st grade students at San Pedro Elementary School in San Rafael, California. They are 5 and 6 yro and eager to learn to read and write. Most of their families are low income, with both parents working 1 or 2 jobs. This means that while parents desperately want their children to succeed in school, most do not have the financial resources to purchase the materials requested through DonorsChoose.org

Project Details: FISH (Family Involvement Starts Here) Folders give students a way to keep organized, and provide families an easy way to be involved in their child’s education. Families will be able to quickly see what students are learning, find and help students with their homework, see how they are doing on their classwork, and learn what is happening at school. In this way, students will be able to spend their time studying and parents will be able to spend their time helping children with their work, instead of digging around in the backpacks sorting through crumpled papers!

Extensive research has shown that parent involvement leads to student success. FISH folders are a simple but direct way for parents to be involved in their child’s learning. They will also give students an opportunity to develop responsibility, and to learn study and organization skills.

I will get email updates as the teacher posts thank-you notes and photos, so I can watch the project unfold. I will also get student thank-you letters in the mail and can choose to communicate with the teacher and other donors if I want. It feels great to know that I contributed to a classroom at a school in a community that is close to my heart. This is why DonorsChoose.org rocks!

If you want to help complete this project visit DonorsChoose.org!

More to come,

Stephanie

As an MBA candidate interested in leveraging the fashion industry as a platform for social innovation and committed to using education as a tool to break the cycle of systemic poverty, I’m spending my summer working with an inspiring nonprofit organization, as well as co-founding a social enterprise…

First, let me tell you about Indego Africa (“Indego”), a nonprofit social enterprise that really has taken the fashion world by storm. Indego takes a market-driven, fashion-forward approach to empowering African women by: partnering with cooperatives of female artisans in Rwanda on a fair trade basis; selling their stylish hand-crafted products on Indego’s online store and at more than 70 U.S. retailers, like Anthropologie, shopbop.com, and Ralph Lauren; and then investing 100% of its profits from sales and donations into its ground-breaking training programs in business management, entrepreneurship, literacy, and technology.

Indego was founded by  Matt Mitro, who built the organization with college friend Ben Stone, now President & CEO – both former corporate lawyers and self-described “fashion-challenged dorks.” Yes, you read correctly. Four short years later, Indego is recognized as one of the “go-to” nonprofit partners for established designers and retailers, like Nicole Miller and DANNIJO. I’ve had the opportunity to attend sales meetings with major U.S. retailers – retailers that I LOVE – and needless to say, there are some very big partnerships on the horizon for Indego.

In my opinion, Indego has reached the critical point where it is beginning the transition from start-up to sustainable nonprofit. The tremendous amount of work, dedication, and passion that this team demonstrates has blown me away, my fellow intern Ryan Williams, from NYU Law, put it best when he said that he was, “humbled and honored to be part of such a dynamic and dedicated group.” At Indego, the passion for the social mission is at the heart of everything we do.

For now, it’s back to fabric sourcing, retail strategy, and preparing for the week’s networking events. I should mention that Indego has turned networking into an art-form, and as a result, I’ve had the chance to attend some pretty amazing events this summer:  The Global Leaders World Innovation Evening, where our CEO was recognized as a Future Global Leader, African Fashion Week New York, and 85 Broads events, including a JAM session featuring Matt and Ben, just to name a few. It is easy to see why Indego has been successful in building a cult-like following, they are everywhere and people can’t help but to be drawn to the social enterprise story.

…More to come on my experience co-founding REVIVAL Style, an apparel line that blends high style with high social impact, and proves that looking good and doing good don’t have to be mutually exclusive! (I’ll save that for next time)

Wishing you all the best,

Allie

Greetings from Bangalore, part two

Posted: July 18, 2011 by Jenny in Uncategorized

So let me pick up from where Matt left off with my intro…

Before coming to NYU’s Stern School of Business, I worked in public health. A fellowship with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services brought me from my California home to Washington, DC. There I had the opportunity to serve with colleagues, dedicated to improving and protecting the nation’s health, on federal public health programs that ranged from recruitment and retention of healthcare workforce in underserved areas to public health emergency preparedness across the country. With my federal system experience in hand, I moved into the consulting, non-profit sphere at AcademyHealth, where I focused on knowledge transfer strategies (the translation and application of knowledge and research into public health practice and policy). My projects involved building and managing learning networks aimed at addressing health disparities; using research to inform and promote consumer-centered, national health information technology policy; and increasing the awareness and uptake of the latest federally-vetted data to improve clinical practices and policies.

As a part of the Stern community, I am looking to better understand how to create and scale positive impact on the health and quality of life of others, especially vulnerable populations. Our project in India reflects why I made the decision to go to business school – to strengthen my business acumen and bridge that with my public health experience to develop sustainable, culturally appropriate solutions for key health issues. My SIIF experience is enabling me to not only directly apply what my MBA has taught me so far, but also realize a vision that I had originally just put down on paper.

Here let the summer stories ensue…