Brown University Changemaker Campus

Brown’s “open curriculum” attracts students with the initiative and skill to craft their own vision of an undergraduate education, at an institution where social responsibility is central to the culture. So what results from this mix? Students whose ambition is not for their own advancement, but rather to make a difference in the world.

The Social Innovation Initiative rpromoting an open culture of collaborative learning and community impact with programming focused in four key areas: venture development, academic connections, campus activities, and life beyond Brown. Our banner program, the ’Social Innovation Fellowship’, is a 15-month program for student entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to get the training, funding, and networking support they need to launch and lead social ventures.

Social Innovation Fellowship

Since 2009, the Social Innovation Fellowship has supported over 115 fellows and over 75 ventures by providing them with training, a community, and funding. Students come to this 15-month extra-curricular program through various pathways. Some are entrepreneurs, like the founders of Capital Good Fund, which provides small loans and financial education for low-income Americans. Others are intrapreneurs, like the Fellow who conducted market research in Columbia for Assured Labor, a for-profit social enterprise that uses SMS technology to connect middle and low-income workers with jobs. In the words of 2012 Fellow, Sidney Kushner, “For the first time in my life, I will have the opportunity to devote everything I have to CCChampions. For me, the Fellowship is not just about the grant or the one-of-a-kind support network; it is a rare and unique foreground for true passion, and I'd be crazy to pass that up.

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TRI-Lab (Teaching, Research, Impact)

The TRI-Lab (Teaching, Research, Impact) Program at Brown University is an initiative that brings together students, faculty, and community practitioners to engage with complex social issues and collaboratively develop, refine, and test solutions to these issues. At the heart of each Lab is a two-semester seminar in which participants explore the framework and context of an issue and harness their multiple perspectives towards creative solutions. Summer internships with community-based organizations enable students to deepen the work of the Labs. In the year following the seminar, Lab cohorts may apply for seed funding to continue to work together to build practice and knowledge around solutions. The TRI-Lab Program is currently running three Labs: the Healthy Food Access Lab; the Climate Change and Environmental Justice Lab; and the Healthy Early Childhood Development Lab.

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Engaged Scholars Program

Brown’s Engaged Scholars Program (ESP) supports students and faculty who seek to integrate teaching, research, and practice in order to advance scholarship and benefit the world beyond the university. Engaged scholarship is premised on the idea that reciprocal exchanges between academic and non-academic partners - in the classroom, on campus, in the community - create rich opportunities for learning and problem-solving. The program builds on Brown’s distinctive interdisciplinary culture by providing coherent curricular and advising structures that enable students to design courses of study, through their concentrations/majors, that place internships, collaborative research projects, and community-based work at the heart of their academic lives. The Engaged Scholars Program will pilot in 2014-15 in four departments: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Engineering, and Theater Arts & Performance Studies.

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Swearer Sparks and Storytellers for Good

Swearer Sparks provides a space for Brown University’s social innovation community to connect with one another and share their ideas, experiences, and beliefs through the power of digital storytelling. As a user of the website, you can access hundreds of stories created by Brown storytellers and changemakers;profiles of students and alumni exploring social issues in communities around the world; and dozens of resources for active and aspiring changemakers. The website’s core content relies upon the Storytellers for Good program - a selective group of students that works intensively on building and applying skills in digital media (photography, audio, writing, film) to create stories with social impact. Their stories aim to show, not tell, what the terms “social innovation” and “social change” mean within our community and the people and values that drive them. Together, the program and platform function as a dynamic, diverse storytelling and relationship-building machine powered by our community.

Alan Harlam Director of Social Entrepreneurship

I witnessed the power of social enterprise when I led the More Than a Meal catering business at Amos House, which provides supportive employment through a sustainable business model. I joined Brown five years ago to continue my exploration of the topic as an educator and mentor to student entrepreneurs. I’ve shared my passion for the potential of social entrepreneurship to develop solutions where other approaches have fallen short and seen students realize this promise through their studies, experiences, and entrepreneurial pursuits. I’m humbled by my students’ passion and determination and the innovative ideas they develop to create a more just society. I’m inspired each day to join them on their journey to become leaders and entrepreneurs.

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Lizzie Pollock Assistant Director of Social Entrepreneurship

In 2005, I joined the staff of a start-up education reform organization founded and led by an Ashoka Fellow called Stand for Children. I had the opportunity to be part of this exciting social venture that used community organizing as a strategy for improving public schools, and supported the organization as it went through a period of rapid growth. Upon moving to Providence, I knew I wanted my next role to allow me to support others in reaching their potential, developing new skills, and making a meaningful difference in the world. Working with the students at Brown is a dream position because not only do I get to see our students achieve great things through their ventures, but I get to provide them with opportunities to learn and grow as agents of change.

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Bill Allen Adjunct Lecturer of Public Policy

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Jim Amspacher Career Advisor, Coordinator for Careers in the Common Good

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Brett Anders Student (first student doing an independent concentration in social innovation at Brown)

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Chris Bull Senior Research Engineer, Senior Lecturer

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Changemaker Campus

Launched in 2008, Ashoka offers the Changemaker Campus designation to leading institutions in social innovation education. These institutions share the vision for higher education to become the next global driver of social change by transforming the educational experience into a world-changing experience.