Beeta Ansari

Beeta is Ashoka U’s Exchange Director, the world’s largest global convening for social entrepreneurship education.

Announcing the 2015 Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Award Winners

January 22, 2015

The Ashoka U-Cordes Innovation Awards recognize top educational approaches in social entrepreneurship within higher education. The six 2015 Awardees were selected based on three criteria: Innovation – model addresses a clear challenge or opportunity for advancing an entrepreneurial or socially impactful mindset, skillset, and culture for the university context; Replication – model may be easily adapted without losing quality and impact; and Maturity – there is evidence of refinement and iteration of the model over time. Previous awardees include Design for America, ThinkImpact, and Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose.

In the words of Ron Cordes, Co-Founder of the Cordes Foundation, “[The Ashoka U-Cordes Innovation Award] casts a broad net and identifies the best and brightest innovations that are really affecting the ability of our students to be changemakers.”

The 2015 Awardees will be recognized at the Ashoka U’s Exchange, being hosted at the University of Maryland from February 26 – 28, 2015. The Exchange brings together over 650 university faculty, staff and administrators from 120 colleges and universities and 30 countries to share best practices for social innovation in higher education.

The six awardees in 2015 are: (CTW), a program of the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland, is a nonprofit consulting program which provides university students with real-world business consulting experiences while building the capacity of resource-constrained nonprofits eager to run their organizations more strategically. CTW is led by Pammi Bhullar, Program Director of Experiential Learning at the Center for Social Value Creation.

The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub (CCS iHub) at the Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing at the University of British Columbia is a dynamic and supportive one-year accelerator program that brings together ventures, students, faculty, and the business and social innovation community to amplify the growth and impact of social ventures. The program includes co-working space, a workshop series tailored to the unique needs of social ventures, business coaching and advisory services, internship program, mentorship, and peer networks.

The Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), in partnership with USAID, mobilizes the Duke community—in collaboration with practitioners, investors, policymakers—to identify, assess, build capacity, and scale the impact of innovative solutions, technologies, and business models for global health. Duke’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery, and Duke Global Health Institute lead the program.

The Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) is a massively scaled, annual partnership between a university and a city in which existing university courses are directed towards that city’s self-identified ‘real-world’ sustainability and livability projects. SCYP typically directs between 20-35 courses, engaging 500+ students across 10+ disciplines who give 60,000+ hours of creative thinking and problem solving. SCYP is based on existing courses, existing city work plans, and existing administrative structures of universities and cities, making the model highly replicable and adaptable. Marc Schlossberg co-leads this program as Co-Director of the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative.

The Sustainability and Social Innovation Residential Academic Program (SSI RAP) at the University of Colorado Boulder provides an engaging academic, social and interdisciplinary environment for freshmen students living in the residential halls who are eager to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Building on the residence hall culture, students take social innovation courses, develop their own social ventures, and meet outstanding social entrepreneurs. SSI RAP was founded by Professor Susan Clarke; its lead Instructor and curriculum developer is Francy Milner.

Swearer Sparks at Brown University is an online platform for the social innovation community to connect with one another and share ideas, experiences, and beliefs through the power of digital storytelling. The website’s multimedia stories are created by students in the Storytellers for Good program; together, the program and platform function as a dynamic storytelling and relationship-building machine powered by the Brown community. Swearer Sparks is led by Alex Braunstein, Communications Manager at the Swearer Center for Public Service.

The 2015 Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Awardees demonstrate how students, faculty, and community members transform the ways in which colleges and universities prepare students as changemakers while positively impacting the community. They blaze the trail for the institutions of tomorrow.

These six Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Awardees will be recognized by Stephanie Cordes, Vice Chair of the Cordes Foundation, and Spencer Ton, Executive Director of the Cordes Foundation, in a morning plenary session on February 27, 2014 during the Ashoka U Exchange to an audience of over 650 leaders in social innovation in higher education. Resources to support collaboration and replication of the awarded innovations will be available through Ashoka U’s online Innovation Award Portal.

If you have any questions about the award, please contact Emily Lamb, Exchange Manager at