The purpose of my Dream Idea is to create a perennial program that will engage faculty with students to engage in social enterprise to benefit local charities within the Charlottesville community while cultivating meaningful mentoring opportunities for faculty and students.

Social Enterprise can be defined as business for the common good. These efforts use business and the power of innovation and the marketplace to create value to advance social and justice issues. My dream is lead student teams on a social enterprise projects that generate profits for local charities in the Charlottesville area. Further, the vision is that this project will be self-sustaining and can grow every year with additional student/faculty teams.

This objective has several key elements that align with the example that Professor Mead set in the spirit of Jefferson’s vision for our University.

Mentorship: First, this project will focus on the Faculty/student mentorship. By having a faculty member engage with and lead students on a project that will have tangible impact on the community the learnings have the potential to be lifelong.

Memorable: The focus on Social Enterprise allows students to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply that outside the four walls of the University. This project will allow students to be exposed to the needs of others and see how their talents can change, inspire and uplift the needs of their community. College is a defining moment for many, and a project like this could spark students to impact their community, region or culture.

Scalable and Self Sustaining:  The requested funds will be used to enable an innovation, event or activity which will create a profit.  The original seed funding plus a margin will be returned to the program so that other groups can engage the next year. The return will enable this program to scale, while giving to charity without additional funding requests. At scale, we will see more and more faculty and students coming together all across grounds.

Impactful: The ultimate benefactors of this project will be local charities within the Charlottesville community. These Social Enterprise projects will build community goodwill, provide needed resources and most importantly engage more members of the University with the community.

How it will work

This program will be iterative and will grow year after year. Student groups of 4 to 5 will come together with a faculty sponsor. I will initially be sponsoring one of the student groups.  These teams will work together to come up with a partner charity in the local Charlottesville area.  They will then submit several ideas to the faculty sponsor and he or she will guide them to the best option. I will work with the teams to vet and fund the best ideas. Students will take the school year to execute the projects and generate a profit. At the end of the academic year the net proceeds will be given to the partner charity. Following are high level guidelines for projects:

  • Teams will create a project and apply for a budget of up to $1,500. They will be required to submit budget, plans and proposals.
  • Teams must identify and partner with a local 501 c 3 charity.
  • Teams will be required to plan some activity, function or enterprise to grow the $1,500 on behalf of the charity.
  • Teams will be required to conduct a retrospective analysis of the project experience and present the results to the program leader, charity and Mead team.

The activities that teams choose to do on behalf of their charity is totally up to the group and require approval by the program advisor – Jason Williamson. The endeavors must be legal and not get into gray moral areas that may reflect poorly on the integrity of the charity, the University or the Mead Endowment. Funds will be managed by the finance team within the McIntire School.  If my dream is approved I will develop prescriptive guidelines for teams’ to follow.

Proposed budget:

I’m requesting $3,000 to seed this Dream Idea.  This will enable faculty/student teams to run next academic year. We also anticipate some additional costs for creating a website, manage reporting, marketing and an end of year reception with students, faculty, the charity and Mead leadership. We hope that at the end of the 2016 academic year this project will be able to give away $6,000 – $10,000 while growing the original amount to $4,000 to $6,000 thus enabling additional projects in 2016/2017 and increasing each year.