Jessica Lax

Increasing Ashoka U's breadth of impact

Three practices to make your campus plans a reality in 2018



Jerrid Kalakay is an ideas guy. Two years ago his ideas led him to emerge as a key player in sparking a deeper changemaker culture across Valencia College.   

Valencia is a two-year, open access community college in Orlando, Florida. Today, Jerrid and his colleagues are on their way to realizing their vision of integrating social innovation and entrepreneurship into the educational experience of all 65,000 Valencia students.

This kind of bold vision, as I’m sure you know, is no small feat.  But at Ashoka U we love bold visions! As we kick off a new year we wanted to help you think through how your own bold vision for campus change could be brought to life.  We recently sat down with Jerrid to learn a little more about the practices that his team used to help make their vision a reality.  

#1 – Become accountable

Jerrid was lucky – he had four faculty members and three Deans from across disciplines who were all equally excited to make social entrepreneurship education a reality at Valencia College.  There was no shortage of enthusiasm, but it wasn’t until they all committed to a frequent meeting schedule that they were able to carve out the much needed time to surface the big ideas that had the potential for campus-wide change.

This process was accelerated when they had some external deadlines and an accountability mechanism in place.  Jerrid and his colleagues joined the ‘Launching Co-Curricular Venture Programming’ cohort of the Commons – Ashoka U’s 3.5-month virtual accelerator for campus innovators and educators.

Through the Commons Jerrid and his team were matched with a group of peers and a coach. By the end of the semester, their 4-person interdisciplinary team had accomplished a number of new initiatives and had a robust action plan for how to continue advancing their venture-creation strategy at Valencia.

As you think about your own on-campus work, can you carve out some time next semester for regular meetings with colleagues who share your vision? Are there some accountability measures you can set in motion to keep things on track?

#2 – Tap into experience

Spending ideation time with your team is invaluable, but getting insights from others who have already done what you are planning can help you avoid common pitfalls.

For Jerrid, one such insight came from Michael Gordon at the University of Michigan during one of their Commons coaching calls. Michael helped to point out the importance of a dedicated digital hub for social entrepreneurship on campus, even before establishing their physical hub. This hub allowed Jerrid’s team to communicate their offerings long before their physical hub was ready for launch. It also inspired his students to join in and help build momentum for social entrepreneurship on campus on social media.

“We were so focused on the physical hub that prioritizing a digital hub was something we wouldn’t have considered.  Michael’s perspective, of someone who had been through all this before, was invaluable.”

Based on Jerrid’s experience, are there people in your own network who have tried what you are hoping to accomplish?  Consider combing through the combined network of your team and make the time to set up a call where you can solicit insights from experienced allies.  

Alternatively – plan a conference! As part of their action plan, Jerrid and his team decided to launch the inaugural Florida Forum for Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. The gathering was a pre-conference event before the Florida Campus Compact annual conference.  The Florida Forum brought together colleagues leading changemaker initiatives on their campus from around the state.  The conference discussions and presentations provided some of the richest possible content for Jerrid and his team to learn from the experience of others. It also helped to fuel a powerful learning community that he, and many others, will continue to draw upon for months to come.

#3 – Make it your job

We work with a lot of faculty and administrators who have ambitious plans that they are trying to achieve off the side of their desk.  We are always amazed by how much these individuals can accomplish, but undoubtedly true campus-wide change requires a significant amount of time and resources – most often a full-time equivalent.

This realization hit home for Jerrid and his team during their Commons experience.  As a result, they were able to formalize a new role so Jerrid could redesign his job to become Valencia’s first Social Entrepreneurship Coordinator.  

“Becoming the founding social entrepreneurship coordinator for Valencia has been a great honor that came with the ability to focus more of my time and energy on building out our program. The title of coordinator has also strengthened my communications with our campus and surrounding communities, as it clearly defines a point person in this work.”  

This kind of resource allocation can be difficult to achieve, but creating a thoughtful plan, and building a strong team can go a long way to making your case.

(And check out this publication we are working on to help you do exactly that!)

In short…

Being accountable, tapping into experience, and creating the new position of Social Entrepreneurship Coordinator all helped Jerrid and his team take a big leap forward towards their vision of social ‘entrepreneurializing’ the Valencia student experience.

And they aren’t stopping anytime soon. Jerrid and his team are busy building a social enterprise model for Valencia’s newly acquired aquaponics farm, planning the inaugural social venture pitch competition, and continuing their purpose-driven entrepreneur speakers series.

Not bad for turning what was once just an idea into a thriving reality on campus.

Inspired?  We hope so.  And we hope that in 2018 you can also find the accountability, the advising, and the resources you need to make your plans a reality.

To changing the world one campus, and one plan at a time.


Think your team would benefit from the structure, best practices, and coaching in the Ashoka U Commons? Applications for our spring cohort close on January 22nd. Learn more about the Commons here.

Looking for more about Jerrid?  Check out his inspiring podcast – Teaching Change – and share one of his 21+ episodes with your colleagues!