Tag Archive for Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Chitena ’19 Named 2018 Newman Civic Fellow

As a Newman Civic Fellow, Alvin Chitena ’19 will receive a variety of learning and networking opportunities.

Alvin Chitena ’19 has been named a 2018 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth. Through the fellowship, Campus Compact provides a variety of learning and networking opportunities, including a national conference of Newman Civic Fellows in partnership with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The fellowship also provides fellows with access to apply for exclusive scholarship and postgraduate opportunities.

3 Student-Led Ventures Awarded PCSE Seed Grants

George Perez ’20

George Perez ’20 pitches his venture, Cardinal Kids, which provides affordable arts, technology and literacy programming to Middletown youth. Cardinals Kids was one of three projects awarded a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grant.

On March 2, Wesleyan students pitched their project ideas to a panel of judges at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grant finals. Of the six finalists who presented, three teams were awarded $5,000 seed grants to fund the launch of their social enterprise, program, organization or venture.

The winning projects address a compelling social problem, have a clear objective and data strategy, and have potential to produce a lasting and replicable impact. In addition to the project itself, judges based their decisions on the applicants’ passion, commitment, tenacity, leadership and personal integrity.

The 2018 Seed Grant recipients are:

Kai Williams ’20

Kai Williams ’20 pitches her organization, Eat at the Table Theatre Company.

Eat at the Table Theatre Company
Kai Williams ’20 and Emma Morgan Bennett
E.A.T.T. is a nonprofit theatre arts organization that is both founded, operated by and offers membership to actors of color under 22 years old. They will create theater opportunities for young actors of color in New York as a means of combating discriminatory and racist practices within the theater industry and to focus on developing and centering the work of marginalized artists.

Cardinal Kids (previously Middletown Green Youth Association),
George Perez ’20, Jessica Russell ’20, Jenny Chelmow ’19, Vera Benkoil ’18 and Katie Murray ’19
Cardinal Kids is a financially self-sustaining program that will bring affordable arts, tech and literacy programming to Middletown youth. The program will be a Monday through Friday after-school program taught by Wesleyan students.

Young Achievers Foundation Ghana
Ferdinand Quayson ’20, Derrick Dwamena (Michigan State University), Archibald Enninful (Yale University), Felix Agbavor (Drexel University) 
Young Achievers Foundation (YAF) Ghana is a student-run initiative which promotes access to higher education for students in Northern Ghana through scholarship workshops and innovative in-school mentorship programs.

The 2018 Seed Grant finalists are:

A Bridging Community Dinner (AB-CD) Project
Isobel McPhee ’19, Serene Murad ’18, Willa Schwarz ’19 and Shellae Versey (faculty fellow, College of the Environment; assistant professor, African American studies) 
AB-CD Project seeks to bridge communities through a simple concept—connecting with others through sharing meals. It provides the opportunity for refugees to build community relationships through communal dinners and to evaluate the project’s efficacy in helping refugee groups feel welcomed, build relationships and gather resources through community partnerships.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Kelly Acevedo ’20 speaks about Caput Productions.

Caput Productions
Kelly Acevedo ’20 and Alex Vazquez (academic technology training specialist), with support from Asa Palmer ’18, Langston Lynch ’20 and Rachel Ellis Neyra (assistant professor of English)

Caput Productions will produce films that display the potential of South Central Los Angeles in spite of the “hood mentality” that so often prevents it from receiving needed resources. Their first film is “Sweet and Sour South Central Child.”

The Black Lady Theatre Summer Camp
Arline Pierre-Louis ’19
The Summer of Peace Theatre Camp, sponsored by the Black Lady Theatre, will expand arts education for students that are trapped in New York City’s school-to-prison pipeline.

A video recording of the pitches will soon be made available on the Patricelli Center website.

Local Youth Learn How to Use Technology for Social Good at “Hackathon”

Thafir Elzofri ’19

Thafir Elzofri ’19, at left, assists Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. participants in Beckham Hall.

On Feb. 24, Wesleyan hosted a “hackathon” for social good in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. The free event introduced more than 50 local children in grades 4 through 8 to technology and showed them how it could be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. About half the children came from Middletown, while others came from as far away as Greenwich, Griswold and West Hartford to participate.

Seven Wesleyan students and two staff members served as volunteer mentors, working with the children to devise computer applications that addressed a range of problems facing local organizations. Five nonprofit social good organizations founded by Wesleyan students through the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship were the beneficiaries of these apps. Using MIT App Inventor, students learned the basics of app design, as well as the ideation and brainstorming process required to build a successful prototype mobile application.

Ahmed Badr ’20 gave a keynote address, in which he discussed Narratio, the platform he created for refugees to tell their stories.

Alumni Panelists Discuss Wesleyan Black Male Achievement

On Feb. 22, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship welcomed three alumni back to campus to speak on "Wesleyan Black Male Achievement: Narratives of Power, Purpose and Resilience." The panel included Shawn Dove '84, John Johnson '82 and Marquis Lobban '85 and was held in conjunction with Black History Month.

On Feb. 22, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship welcomed three alumni back to campus to speak on “Wesleyan Black Male Achievement: Narratives of Power, Purpose and Resilience.” The panel included Shawn Dove ’84, John Johnson ’82 and Marquis Lobban ’85 and was held in conjunction with Black History Month. Pictured at left is Makaela Kingsley, director of the Patricelli Center.

Wesleyan Will Host Youth “Hackathon” for Social Good, Feb. 24

Wesleyan, in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr., is hosting a “hackathon” for social good for students in grades 4 through 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. This free event, to be held in Beckham Hall, will show local youth how technology can be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. The hackathon is open to the public and requires no prior coding experience.

“Participants will be working with Wesleyan student mentors to create technology for social good,” explained Patrice Gans, president and executive director of Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. “By the end of the day we hope they will see how technology can have a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Newman’s Own Foundation Awards Grant to Support Internships

On Nov. 28, Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship received a $10,000 grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation to support student internships.

“The gift from the Newman Foundation will be used to offer stipends to students doing social impact and entrepreneurship work during the summer,” explained Makaela Kingsley ’98, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “We are grateful for the support of Newman’s Own and our other donors who make this work possible.”

Trustee Emeritus Bob Patricelli ’61 P’88 P’90 is a board member for Newman’s Own and has generously encouraged the foundation to support Patricelli Center programs over the past six years. Through the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation, Bob and Margaret Patricelli support Wesleyan in many ways including serving on the Patricelli Center Advisory Board.

Newman’s Own Foundation turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations. Since 1982, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given more than $500 million to thousands of charities and nonprofit organizations worldwide.

Patricelli Center Named ‘Murphy’s Innovator of the Month’

The 2016/2017 Patricelli Center Fellows.

The 2016/2017 Patricelli Center Fellows.

Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship was honored in May as U.S. Senator Chris Murphy’s “Innovator of the Month.” It is the first educational institution to receive this recognition.
Founded in May 2011, the PCSE provides workshops, training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to Wesleyan students and alumni who are tackling social problems using entrepreneurial solutions. PCSE also hosts a year-long fellowship course for undergraduates and an annual $5,000 seed grant competition. With support from foundations and individual donors, PCSE is now an endowed program and a permanent part of Wesleyan University.

“Wesleyan’s PCSE is a one-of-a-kind program,” Murphy said. “PCSE is making it possible for students and aspiring entrepreneurs to work on the issues they care about. Their efforts are helping to create a more just community, and I’m proud they call Connecticut home.”

Patricelli Center Fellows Celebrate Year-Long Pilot Program

The 2016-17 Patricelli Center Fellows jumped for joy during their end-of-the-year celebration on May 9.

The 2016-17 Patricelli Center Fellows jumped for joy during their end-of-the-year celebration on May 9. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In Fall 2016, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship launched a for-credit, cohort-style, project-based fellowship program (CSPL 264 and 265) for 36 students. And on May 9, the fellows celebrated the success of the pilot program during a group lunch and discussion.

stu_patricelli_2017-0509111055Among the fellows are Alexandra Bacchus ’17, who is working to create a platform for day laborers to connect with potential employers in a safe and trustworthy way to combat job insecurity and low pay.

Nebiyu Daniel ’18 is expanding health education in his hometown of Garamuleta, Ethiopia through his organization, Rural Access.

Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr ’20 is using the power of storytelling to empower youth worldwide through his creative expression platform, narratio.org.

Shantelle Brown ’19 is empowering adolescent Jamaican girls to deconstruct violent and oppressive cultural norms through sisterhood and creative expression.

Etenish Abebe ’17, Jamilia Simon ’17 and Aliya Lyons ’17 are building a user-centered two-sided marketplace to connect freelance hairstylists to clients.

Joshua Nodiff ’19 is creating a nonprofit called Power To The People that seeks to implement energy democracy through urban environmental design.

Through his enterprise, Be The Change Venture, Anthony Price ’20 is connecting Cleveland’s youth and empowering them to be leaders in their community.

Learn more about all the fellows online.

The Patricelli Center is accepting applications for the 2017/2018 Fellowship. For more information, visit bit.ly/patricelli-fellowship.

‘Walking Elephants Home’ Project by Winkler ’16 Nominated for Conservation Grant

 Becca Winkler ’16

Becca Winkler ’16 launched “Walking Elephants Home,” a project that provides a new model of tourism, and has been nominated for a European Outdoor Conversation Association grant.

“Walking Elephants Home,” a Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF) project launched and run by Becca Winkler ’16, has been nominated for the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) grant—and voting is open until March 23.

“From many conversations with elephant owners struggling to make ends meet and who were unhappy with the conditions their elephants live in at elephant camps, I could see that we needed a new model,” Winkler said. “The forests of Thailand have been home to the Asian elephant for thousands of years; it is their birthright. ‘Walking Elephants Home’ is on a mission to to prove that tourists should do the work to see elephants in their habitat, rather than removing the elephants and forcing them to live in a tourist camp for our benefit.”

Winkler, a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major who first began working with elephants in Thailand as an undergrad, wrote her thesis on “Walking with Giants: Eco-feminist Insights on Elephant Tourism in Thailand.” She received a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship grant in 2016 that helped her launch and run “Walking Elephants Home” through the MEF, a nonprofit that supports elephants and their mahouts (owners) in Thailand. Collaborating with indigenous people, the MEF offers a successful business model with ethical tourism alternatives to those who free their elephants. Their goal is to not only improve the elephants’ well-being by returning them to their natural habitat but also enhances biodiversity and prevents further deforestation.

Patricelli Center Awards Seed Grants to 3 Student-Led Ventures

AJ Wilson ’18 speaks about his project, Dream Catchers, which received a seed

AJ Wilson ’18 speaks about his organization, Dream Catchers, which received a $5,000 seed grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

On Feb. 27, three student-led social impact projects received a Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship 2017 seed grant. The Patricelli Center will award these ventures with $5,000 each in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

Recipients were selected from a pool of finalists who submitted written business plans and pitched to a panel of expert judges comprised of alumni, parents, students, faculty and community partners. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities and potential for social impact.

The 2017 Seed Grant recipients are:

Dream Chasers led by AJ Wilson ’18, Rhea Drozdenko ’18, Julian Payne and Celina Cotton is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to closing the academic and opportunity gaps in the South and Midwest through peer mentorship, events and workshops, and community engagement.

“Every student needs a peer mentor,” Wilson said. “We believe students need the ability to create, innovate, and work with and for their peers. We also believe students need a safe and nurturing environment that allows them to pursue any academic dream they desire. Our vision is for students to realize no dream is too large or too impossible to pursue.”

Wesleyan’s T.R.A.P. House Business Incubator Working in Hartford’s North End

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

Members of team behind T.R.A.P. House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others.

The Hartford Courant has featured the work of T.R.A.P House, a nonprofit business incubator that targets high-crime, high-poverty areas and has recently started working in the north end of Hartford. T.R.A.P. House is the creation of a team from Wesleyan: Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Sara Eismont ’18, and Bashaun Brown, a former student in Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, where he earned 16 credits while serving six years at the Cheshire Correctional Institution for bank robbery.

Brown will be a member of Wesleyan’s Class of 2018, starting in the fall.

T.R.A.P. stands for “transforming, reinventing and prospering,” and is a play on the street slang for a place to buy and sell drugs. According to the Courant:

The acronym doubles as the organization’s mission statement. Brown wants to set up shop in the North End and recruit drug dealers, providing them an outlet to “pivot their skills to the legal economy” through college-level entrepreneurship classes.

He has already started to make his rounds, visiting halfway houses and touring neighborhoods, spreading word of what he’s doing.

“There are no headhunters looking at these people, no one’s looking to hire them,” Brown said. “But I believe you have the same type of people in these neighborhoods that have the same business acumen that you might find at Harvard or Yale. They’re just using it for the wrong reasons.”

Brown knows this all too well from his upbringing on the streets of Plainfield, N.J., a city 30 miles south of Newark where “preteens act as lookouts and drug mules in exchange for soda-and-chip money.” He tried to distance himself from this life by enrolling at Morehouse College, but after one year, “his dreams collapsed under the weight of debt.” He returned home and made a series of bad decisions that ultimately landed him in prison.

2016 Patricelli Center Seed Grant Winners Announced

Members of team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures that won a seed grant, presented their pitch before a live audience of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck's-Agaya '18, Gabe Weinreb '18, Bashaun Brown, and Sara Eismont '18.

Members of the team behind TRAP House, one of the three social ventures awarded a seed grant, presented their pitch before members of the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and others. Presenting (from left to right) are Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, Gabe Weinreb ’18, Bashaun Brown and Sara Eismont ’18.

Three social ventures started by Wesleyan students were recently awarded $5,000 seed grants in the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s annual Seed Grant Challenge. They are Kindergarten Kickstart, TRAP House and Walking Elephants Home.

The last weekend in February, all six finalists for the seed grants presented pitches for their ventures before the Board of Trustees, Patricelli Center Advisory Board and Seed Grant judges, as well as representatives of CT Innovations and the ‎State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, fellow students, and others. The event was also livestreamed. One of the other finalists, <Zim/Code>, chose to withdraw from the Seed Grant competition before selections were made, after the project received $10,000 from another funder.

The remaining finalists, Give Education and Pertiwi Initiative, were awarded smaller runner-up grants funded by members of the Board of Trustees who attended the pitches and believed all six teams were worthy of validation.

“This was the third year that we awarded seed grants in a pitch competition format,” said Makaela Kingsley, director of the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “I am always blown away by the finalists, and this year was no exception. From Becca Winkler’s thorough understanding of the environmental and cultural conditions in northern Thailand to Irvine Peck’s-Agaya’s deep personal commitment to her economic development work, every person who took that stage captured the audience’s attention and garnered their support. More than launching ventures, this process helps students develop creative competence and confidence that will make them effective changemakers and capable leaders. I believe it’s a critical piece of a Wesleyan education.”