Wesleyan Social Enterprises: Housing and Hunger

What do they do?

The Housing and Hunger Program provides both direct service opportunities and the opportunity to address the root causes of hunger and housing issues in our community. Programs include:

Middlesex County Habitat for Humanity: Wesleyan students, in partnership with the Middlesex Habitat for Humanity of Connecticut, partake in local builds of homes that benefit low-income families. The Middlesex Habitat for Humanity chapter brings families and communities in need together with volunteers and resources to build decent affordable housing. Get involved: Students can volunteer at the Habitat for Humanity Restore on Saturdays or with builds and restorations which happen almost weekly as well. Also, every year this group plans and participates in a Spring Break Trip to build a home. Please contact weshfh@gmail.com if you are interested. 

Food Rescue Program: Student volunteers pick up food that is normally wasted from Pi Cafe, Summerfields and Usdan to be deliver to Eddy Shelter. There are 12 pick-ups per week and students are assigned one shift per week; total commitment is about 30 minutes. Moreover, every so often the program facilitates a dinner with both Wesleyan students and Eddy Shelter residents at the shelter. Get involved: Please contact wesfoodrescue@gmail.com if you are interested.

Bread Salvage Program: Students pick up unsold bread products from Freihoffer’s Bread Company and deliver them to two schools in Middletown. Commitment is 1.5 hours/week. Days and times vary. Get involved: Please contact wesfoodsalvage@gmail.com if you are interested. 

Amazing Grace Food Pantry Program: This program encompasses many activities at the food pantry: monthly cooking classes, regular (work-study) volunteering opportunities, special events and fundraisers, and other opportunities. Get involved: Please contact wesfoodpantry@gmail.com if you are interested. 

Get in touch:
The Housing and Hunger Program has one point person who organizes the various programs as well as acts as a liaison between Middletown and campus. They organize fundraisers and awareness campaigns as well as sit on the county-wide anti-hunger task force. They also are in charge of the creation of new programs, and the expansion of current programs. Please contact Anike Arni at aarni@wesleyan.edu if you are interested or have any questions about the general Housing and Hunger Program.
Wesleyan Social Enterprises: The MINDS Foundation

What do they do?

The MINDS (Mental Illness & Neurological Disorders) Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit founded in August 2010 by Raghu Appasani ‘12 with the aim of eliminating stigma associated with mental illness in rural regions of India. Their innovative grassroots 3-phase program stresses education, accessibility to holistic treatment, research, and reintegration. MINDS has made amazing strides in the last year; they have directly educated over 2500 individuals about mental illness in a service area of 19 villages and over 15,000 individuals. The efficacy of their educational awareness program has been stellar: based on surveys given before and after their educational campus, 78% of individuals screened did not know what mental illness is prior to the camp, and 98% were aware of mental illness and certain symptoms after the camp. Currently, MINDS is treating over 75 patients, continuing research studies in order to improve their programming, and beginning to implement vocational training and employment programs for treated patients.

How can you get involved?
MINDS Foundation is always looking for new students looking to get involved. Email Igjohnson@wesleyan.edu and/or SDesai@wesleyan.edu to get involved, or drop by one of our meetings. We are also looking for students to travel to India and take part in field work over Winter and Summer break.

Wesleyan Social Enterprises: Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO)

What do they do?
Shining Hope for Communities seeks to bring hope through women, because through these women we bring hope to entire communities. Created by Wes alums Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner, our non-profit organization has helped to establish the only tuition-free school for girls in the entire slum of Kibera (located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya). Along with the Kibera School for Girls, we have also founded throughout the years: a bio-latrine, the Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic, a community center, a water sanitation program, a cyber cafe, and the SHOFCO Women’s Empowerment Program for HIV positive women. 

By linking these community services with our school for girls, we are showing that benefiting women benefits the whole community and are helping to make women valued members of society.
Educating a girl in places like Kibera means she will earn more and invest 90% of earnings in her family, be three times less likely to contract HIV, and have fewer, healthier children more likely to reach adulthood. However, education for girls is often undervalued in Kibera, and the lack of access to quality health care and resources often prevent students (especially girls) from staying in school.

How can you get involved?
Help us continue to find new and innovative ways to fundraise and raise awareness for the girls of the Kibera School for Girls and the community of Kibera. To learn how to get involved, you can check out our website: http://shininghopeforcommunities.org/, or come to our weekly meetings on campus: Tuesdays at 9pm at 200 Church.

Wesleyan Social Enterprises: InVenture

InVenture is a shining example of Wes making an impact in social enterprise.  Both InVenture’s CEO/Founder Shivani Siroya and the Global Operations Director Bonnie Oliva are Wes alums, and in less than five years of existence, InVenture is making serious strides in the world of social enterprise. Among a number of impressive achievements, InVenture is an Echoing Green Fellow and was recently featured in Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs”.

What do they do?

InVenture’s goal is to make microfinance a more effective way to alleviate poverty for a larger demographic by “leveraging mobile technology to create credit scores for unbanked individuals around the world”. Credit scores are a critical tool for making sure microfinance operations are sustainable, but reliable information can be extremely hard to get in many cases. To quote the Bloomberg Businessweek article, “Over time, borrowers get better loan terms and will be considered bankable, says founder Shivani Siroya. ‘To get people out of poverty, what you really need to do is bring them into the formal sector.’”

How can you get involved?
InVenture has a Fellows program which is open to undergrads. Last year, it was listed under internships on MyCC, so check out the career center or try just getting in touch with InVenture if you’re interested in getting involved!

Get connected!

Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (see the last two posts if you’re note sure what the Patricelli Center is) has updated it’s website.  There’s now a links/resources page where you can get connected to the social enterprise scene at Wes and beyond all in one place.  This includes a number of the relatively well-known student organizations like MINDS, SHOFCO, and Brighter Dawns (and of course a link to this blog!), as well as a number of organizations that you might not have heard of.  Under the “Social Entrepreneurship Information & Resources” heading is a list of successful organizations, most of which have strong ties to Wesleyan. We’ll be following up this post with descriptions of many of these organizations in the coming weeks.

So if you’re looking for a great way to get involved in social enterprise—especially if you, like just about everybody else, don’t have your own great idea for a new organization—then the links/resources page is just what you need.  From student groups to volunteering to internships and jobs, there isn’t a better place for a Wes student to get connected.

The Patricelli Center: A Follow-up

Our last post was about Wesleyan’s new home for social entrepreneurship, the Patricelli Center in the bottom floor of Allbritton.  Well, the Patricelli center just got some good news—here’s part of an email from Paul Gagnon, the center’s director, to the social enterprise listserv (if you want to get these emails, just tell Paul pgagnon@wes):

Late last week we learned that The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship was awarded a $50,000 challenge grant by the Newman’s Own Foundation!   The grant is contingent on the Center successfully raising an additional $100,000 from other philanthropic sources by December 31, 2012.

What this means is that the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship will, hopefully, soon be able to fund a variety of student programming opportunities on a competitive basis such as special internships, project seed grants and participation in customized training programs (such as Starting Bloc).

Great news for the center and for anyone interested in social enterprise at Wes!

Wesleyan’s Home for Social Entrepreneurship

In 2011, the Robert [‘61] and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation gave Wesleyan $2 million to establish the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.  The center was dedicated on Nov. 5 last year and its mission is to “support Wesleyan students and alumni interested in creating and sustaining programs, businesses, and organizations that advance the public good”. 

Right now, most of Wesleyan still doesn’t know the Patricelli Center even exists, but if you’re interested in social enterprise you should absolutely stop by (bottom floor of Allbritton).  Paul Gagnon, the center’s director, is incredibly friendly and helpful.  Visit his office (in the Patricelli Center) or send him an email (pgagnon@wes) and he can connect you to everything that’s going on at Wes (existing student groups and social enterprises, talks, networking events, etc) plus all of the resources that the center has to offer, including a really strong network of alumni, connection to internships (Paul is also Wesleyan’s Internship and Civic Engagement Coordinator), and some seed funding. 

So if you want to start a social enterprise, want to get involved with existing organizations, or just want to learn what social enterprise is about, then go check out the Patricelli Center!

The World’s Most Important Problem

This article is an incredibly clear explanation of how enormous and urgent the global warming problem is.  Anyone and everyone should absolutely read it. 

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

By Bill McKibben

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719#ixzz21kAEN1kL
A Ban Against Neglect

One of the really interesting NGOs that we’ve started working with through World Micro-Market (see the previous post to learn more about World Micro-Market) is A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN).  Check out a powerful video describing their work and here’s a short description of ABAN from Lindsay Sebastian, ABAN’s Social Media/PR intern:

ABAN is an organization working to solve two problems with one united solution. Every day, over 40 tons of plastic waste is thrown into the streets of Accra, Ghana. Every night, over 30,000 children fall asleep on those same streets. ABAN works with 20 street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future, as well as receive the tools they need to transform their city into a healthier environment.

In our two-year program, ABAN girls learn vocational skills such as sewing and dying fabrics to make our original ABAN products.  These bags, purses, aprons, and other products are made from the plastic waste dumped on the streets of Accra (check them out here). ABAN provides the girls housing in addition to programs in sewing, English, health, business education, counseling, all while being paid living stipends, and participating in a matching savings program. At the end of this intensive two-year program, the girls will have the tools they need to change their lives.

For us at ABAN, social entrepreneurship is much more than just a new and sustainable business model. For us, it’s all about making an impact around the world. We work for a change. Our mission isn’t just to sponsor girls. Our mission is to empower these girls to change their lives and their environment, in order to provide a better future for themselves and their children!

To learn how to get involved and be part of the change, check out our website at aban.org!

World Micro-Market (WMM) and Impact

Impact’s biggest initiative is bringing World Micro-Market to Wesleyan.  World Micro-Market (WMM) is a non-profit started in 2008 that connects NGOs working in developing countries with students on college campuses.  Starting this semester, Impact is running WMM here at Wesleyan, joining UNC and Yale to become the third campus with a WMM branch.

The Goal (slightly adapted from the WMM founders):

Our ambitions are twofold:  First, we hope to empower small-scale artisans in developing countries by serving not just as consumers or importers, but as collaborators—by providing them with a sustainable market that is structured around their needs and their benefit.

Why does it matter?

“Over the last 20 years, Africa’s share of world trade has fallen to 1%… If Africa’s share of world trade increased by one percentage point, it would generate a further $70 billion a year—five times the amount the continent currently receives in aid.”1

By providing greater market access to artisans and organizations working in underprivileged regions, we can have a real impact on the development of poverty-stricken communities.

Second, through the sale of the artisans’ products and through educational efforts, we hope to promote an understanding of global poverty, and therefore a sense of morality and responsibility as consumers driving international trade. Under the world’s current economic structure, producers in the developing world are often sucked into a poverty trap of extremely low wages, long hours, human rights abuses in the workplace, and virtual—and sometimes literal—slavery. We want to spread the message that the world’s affluent have the power to vote against this with their dollar, and we want to provide a market that enables such socially responsible consumerism.

Impact will be holding World Micro-Market sales regularly on campus (Global Gifts is tomorrow, Friday 12/9, from 11:30-6:30 in Zelnick!)  We invite you all to come by and see what our talented artisans have to offer.

1. Black Gold. Dir. Marc and Nick Francis. California Newsreel, 2006.