Kicking off the new year, IEI is excited to be welcoming our new director, Leslie Boney! While many of you know Leslie from his economic development work through the UNC system office and the state of North Carolina, we thought it would be fun to dig a little deeper into who Leslie is by asking him the “IEI Ten” – our ten essential questions. Read his answers below the fold: Continue reading
We wrapped up the 2016 Discovery Forum series in Hickory with six exceptional social entrepreneurship teams! This year, we connected with two new partners, Lenoir-Rhyne University and Catawba Valley Community College to bring our pitch competition to the Hickory area! We were so pleased with the turnout of both participants and attendees, and LRU’s Center for Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship brought a cohort of a dozen German visitors (including two pitch teams!) to share their unique insights.
We’re thrilled to present the three winners of the Hickory Discovery Forum:
- The Yarn Tree is a scarf company that will help support and sustain homeless or needy people by providing them with classes teaching them how to arm knit scarves. The Yarn Tree will then buy the scarves back from the people with adequate compensation for their time.
- E.A.T. is a community-based, non-profit organization that aims to mentor youth and inspire them to serve their communities.
- “Ich schaffe das!” – I make it! – strives to integrate refugees into the market for nursing care for elderly in Germany.
This event brought a particular challenge; one of our three winners, chosen by popular vote, will be returning to Germany next week, and will likely not be able to return stateside for the BB&T Leadership Symposium this March. Tonight’s runner-up, Social Sunday, will be traveling to Raleigh this spring in their stead. A little about Social Sunday:
- Social Sunday is a day every year for giving to others through the practice of Social Entrepreneurship. We have Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday for spending on ourselves, let’s take that open Sunday to harness the power of Social Entrepreneurship for the less fortunate.
Congratulations to all of the wonderful young entrepreneurs who shared their innovative projects and ideas, and we’re so grateful to the many members of the community who came out to support social entrepreneurship. We’re heartened by the work you’re doing in your local communities, and we’re confident NC is in your good hands. We can’t wait to see where you’re headed next!
For more information on the BB&T Discovery Forum series, visit emergingissues.org/DF.
We just wrapped up our fifth Discovery Forum competition for 2016, co-hosted by Wake Forest University‘s Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship! We had nine wonderful teams present their best social entrepreneurship ideas for how to improve their local community, and the vote tallies were close! We’re so excited to announce the three winning teams, who will join us and the top three winners from the five other Discovery Forum pitch competitions in Raleigh in March. They’ll attend the BB&T Leadership Symposium at NC State, and then they’ll pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a shot at $10,000 toward their endeavor!
Congratulations to the three winning Triad teams! We’ll see you in March!
- Founded by a fellow cancer survivor, Resilience Project works with financially disadvantaged patients to design and produce a pair of socks representative of their battle with chronic illness. For each pair sold, Resilience donates one-half of net proceeds back to the patient to help him/her pay for treatment expenses.
- GRPWRK seeks to educate, modernize, qualify and creatively enrich underserved populations of entrepreneurs, while also giving budding creatives the outlet, forum and tools to exercise and promote their gifts. A full service creative and entrepreneurship agency with hands, heart and scale.
- Fresh Food Haven aims to defeat the food desert present in Winston-Salem. Their app allows residents of affected areas to order food on an easy-to-navigate platform for weekly pickup at a local school, government building, or other venue.
Great blog post from our partners at IEI Civic Engagement Blog on the need for inclusive economies.
This blog was contributed by J. Matthew Williams, Director of Communication for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Wake Forest University.
My grandfather was a blind, black man reared in a small Georgia community during the Jim Crow era. Unfortunately, his disability combined with racial segregation practically eliminated opportunities for work. As a result, he relied on bootlegging alcohol and farming while my grandmother worked multiple jobs, including years as a nurse’s assistant and weaver in a textile mill. Eventually, the two worked and saved enough cash to open a small grocery store for local residents in the community, but they were not short of challenges.
Similarly, my sister, a formerly incarcerated woman with a felony record is often denied employment because of her status. And more recently, the loss of her teenage son in a tragic accident makes working a nine to five challenging because of unpredictable moments…
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Over the weekend, we welcomed fifteen teams of young entrepreneurs – all winners of our regional Discovery Forum series – to Hunt Library for the BB&T Leadership Symposium, with each team pitching their social entrepreneurship venture for the chance to win $10,000! We’re so proud of each our participants for their ingenuity, dedication, creativity and commitment to their local community.
We’ve been talking a lot at the Institute about the importance of project-based learning (PBL), a theme that resonated through each of our five FutureWork Day Two Leadership Hackathons. These innovative young upstarts – all ages 18 to 30 – demonstrate the need in North Carolina for more PBL initiatives, including on-the-job skills training, to prepare our next generation for the future of work. Without preparation for work from PBL, we could be missing out on similar brilliance from bright young minds; hands-on training can light the spark on the next great idea to improve the future of North Carolina!
We’ll be talking more over the next few weeks about this event and our ties to civic engagement, but learn a bit about our three finalists below.
And, without further ado, the winner of the BB&T Leadership Symposium – FreshSpire!
A little about our three finalists:
- FreshSpire (winner!) partners with grocery stores so that consumers can get updated notifications on marked down perishables like meats, breads, dairy, and produce. We recover nutritious food that would otherwise end up in our landfills.
- According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, 1 in 5 local households (nearly 200,000 citizens) do not have a home computer, affecting nearly every aspect of economic and educational achievement for those affected families. Informative Technologies™ has sucessfully piloted a solution to this “Digital Divide” by creating ReviveDrive™computers: recycled laptops pre-loaded with our multi-lingual, Windows-compatible operating system, tested and packaged by high school interns, and sold at a wholesale price of $100 to area schools and nonprofits as a profitable fund-raiser. The technology allows “reduced-lunch” families to connect to subsidized broadband at home.
- Special Pedals, Inc. is a non-profit bike shop that trains and employs adults with disabilities, while offering convenient low-cost bikes and bike repairs to UNC Wilmington students. Special Pedals, Inc. seeks to build a community where adults with disabilities are employed in positions that offer equal hours, pay, and quality of life. The mission of Special Pedals, Inc. is to offer individualized training programs and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities
For more information on the Discovery Forum series, visit our website.
Care about project-based learning and its impact on North Carolina? Register for next week’s FutureWork Virtual Engagements in five sectors: Banking & Finance, EdTech, Energy, Goverment/Smart Communities and Healthcare!
Our partners at InnovateNC traveled to Wilmington last week for the InnovateSENC (Wilmington/Carolina Coast) cross-city convening! In touring its facilities, like the Center for Marine Science at UNC Wilmington (pictured above); businesses like MARBIONC and literal makerspace Manufacturing Methods; and community colleges like Cape Fear Community College and Brunswick Community College, we learned a great deal about project-based learning, innovation and the future of work.
— InnovateNC (@InnovateNC) April 12, 2016
These hubs of innovation are using project-based learning to equip their students and young workers with the skills necessary to thrive in industry. Students at Cape Fear Community College, for instance, can enroll in its nationally recognized marine tech program and spend 32 days at sea on Cape Hatteras, getting their hands wet – literally. Wilmington and its coastal neighbors are at the forefront of innovation, and by embracing project-based learning, they’re well-suited to weather the changing future of work.
Check out the full InnovateNC/project-based learning conversation via Storify!
It’s been less than a week since my return from Beijing and, even through the fog that is my yet-unyielding jet lag, I have been thinking a lot about China’s commitment to deepen its science and technology “maker” bench.
It all makes sense. The nations that lead in the creation of new products, processes and services will be the global economic leaders. But China has a lot of ground to cover to catch up with countries such as ours. Take the announcement of 31 National Science Foundation Scholars selected from NC State University, for example. The program is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, recognizing outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. Since 1952, the NSF has funded 50,000 Graduate Research projects to stellar students across the country.
That’s a lot of innovators already at work.
Our March Environments Newsletter is out!
We’re thrilled to welcome old friend Diane Cherry and FutureWork Leadership Hackathon panelist Ivan Urlaub as expert voices for this edition of the Environments Newsletter.
Cherry and Urlaub, both of the NC Sustainable Energy Association, tackled how to best develop North Carolina’s Energy Vision:
As part of FutureWork, stakeholders participated in a special energy sector “Leadership Hackathon” focusing on an important question: What can North Carolina do now to ensure the right mix of new employees given the utility business model changes?
After their work was done, participants voted for strategies they felt were the most important. Topping the list was a unanimous decision that we must first develop an energy vision for North Carolina’s energy economy before considering other workforce development strategies.
I’ve loved the experience of being in Beijing. That said, I am more than ready to be back in North Carolina. It’s time to put my learning to work.
I’ve noted the way government officials, educators and business leaders are working together to build a culture of innovation in China. Take, for instance, the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition (BYSCC). Hundreds of projects on display at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, significant cash prizes, high-level leaders using the opportunity to encourage school teachers, and an award ceremony reminiscent of a Hollywood affair.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair will be held this weekend, at Meredith College in Raleigh.
I’ve been talking to Tom Williams, who is also here in Beijing. He explains our event will be heroically pulled together by a hearty group of volunteers, supported by limited ever-faithful sponsors, and is unlikely to attract the high-level policy officials who should most celebrate its existence. We can change that.
I’m committed to working to support the 2017 North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair, to help it reach a new scale. I hope you’ll join me.
Many thanks to the NC Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center for inviting me to serve as a delegate this year. I’m grateful to my colleagues, to my fellow travelers, and to the wonderful students we went to support. I have many ideas for how to implement the lessons I’ve learned here in North Carolina; I’m off to work!