The team from Babson's Lewis Institute For Social Innovation and their Social Entrepreneurs Action Learning Project is among six award winners who will present their innovation February 26 in No. Carolina.

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The Social Entrepreneurs Action Learning Project initiated at Babson College is among the six winners of Ashoka U Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship Education competition.

The question is often asked: can entrepreneurship really be taught? The inaugural cohort of Ashoka U Innovation Award Winners in Social Entrepreneurship Education would give us many reasons to believe that not only can entrepreneurship be taught, but young social entrepreneurs can be inspired and supported through applied learning opportunities to help them reach their goals. 

From over 50 nominations, these six were selected for their winning innovations: 

The mission of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public focuses on the overwhelming need for a “competitive citizen sector.” Competition allows social entrepreneurs to thrive by proposing more effective approaches to solving our world’s toughest challenges, while empowering the world’s citizens to think and act as changemakers. 

Ashoka U, Ashoka’s college and university program, applied this same principle to higher education through the inaugural Innovation Awards in Social Entrepreneurship Education. By searching for and selecting some of the most innovative educational approaches, Ashoka U seeks to elevate the quality of the growing academic field of social entrepreneurship, while recognizing ambitious educators who are developing new and globally relevant teaching and learning practices to prepare and support the next generation of changemakers and social entrepreneurs. 

  • Two innovations were recognized in the curriculum category. Scott Sherman’s Transformative Action Institute curriculum trains students in the key skills necessary for being social innovators – including qualities such as resilience, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence – and has been adopted by more than 20 campuses, teaching thousands of students from more than 40 countries. Matt Nash, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business created the “Global Consulting Practicum in Social Entrepreneurship” which offers academic credit for hands-on exposure to the entrepreneurial pursuit of social impact in a developing economy through intensive in-country field studies and advance coursework, preparation and coaching.
  • Not surprisingly, the co-curriculum category also had two innovations to offer. Sam Monte, Katie Mulligan, and Dr. Brett Smith from Miami University launched “Edun Live on Campus” in partnership with Bono’s apparel company in combination with a 100% student-run business with a mission to provide experiential learning to students and economic employment opportunities in Africa. Students use the profits from African-made t-shirt sales to fund their Center for Social Entrepreneurship initiatives, including an annual lecture series, international internships, and a social venture fund. Todd Manwaring from Brigham Young University developed a social entrepreneurship on-campus internship class in partnership with Curtis and Misty Lefrandt that engages up to twelve student teams each semester to work with widely recognized social entrepreneurs on various projects.
  • Once students get inspired through courses and applied learning, then what? At Babson’s Lewis Institute for Social Innovation, Cheryl Kiser and Julie Manga implemented the “Social Entrepreneurs Action Learning Project” to engage recent alumni to better inform existing curricular and co-curricular activities. Through a year-long initiative, recent alumni receive individual coaching and a peer community to support a successful social entrepreneur career launch. By working real-time with these emerging social entrepreneurs, Babson takes the insights and learning and feeds it back to faculty, administrators, staff, students, as well as other colleges and universities, highlighting “what alumni wish they would have learned” during their academic career. The insights also inform areas for further academic research around social entrepreneurship. After one year, the current participants have agreed to “pay it forward” to the next cohort of graduates entering the program and will stay on for the second year as part of the action research network.
  • At the institutional level, a partnership with a social entrepreneur, Greg Van Kirk, resulted in an entirely new “Center for MicroConsignment” at Miami University-Ohio supporting access to essential products and services to individuals in developing countries. Developed in partnership with Dr. Brett Smith, and other key collaborators, including students, key activities involve certification of trainers, development of curriculum, student field participation, faculty and student research, corporate partnerships, advocacy and fundraising, and capturing and disseminating best practices. Over 100,000 villagers in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, have benefited from Greg Van Kirk’s MicroConsignment Model, and approximately 225 Social Entrepreneur Corps interns from over 50 colleges and universities have been involved in fieldwork. The Center for MicroConsignment advances social change by utilizing the strengths of both practitioners and college and university partners.

On February 26th, 2011, the six Innovation Award Winners will present their innovations in front of almost 250 attendees from over 50 colleges and universities at the opening session of the Ashoka U Exchange, the first annual conference on social entrepreneurship education, hosted at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The goal of the Innovation Award Ceremony is for other institutions to share their own success stories, and to create new models inspired by the award-winning innovations and driven by the needs in their own communities. 

The panel of reviewers has significant experience in both social entrepreneurship and leadership development. They included Christy Chin, Portfolio Director at the Draper Richards Foundation; Judith Cone, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNC-Chapel Hill; Alan Landis, Senior Executive at the Corporate Executive Board; Rich Leimsider, Director of Fellow and Alumni Programs at Echoing Green; Maure Pessanha, Coordinator of the Social Business Learning Center at the Artemisia Foundation in Brazil; and Don Shalvey, an Ashoka Fellow and the Co-Founder of Aspire Public Schools, and Deputy Director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

About Ashoka 
Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world’s working community of more than 2,500 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capability to integrate and connect entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure that is supporting the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector. Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A Changemaker&™ society to become the reality of tomorrow. For more information, visit

About Ashoka U 
Since co-founding the University Network for Social Entrepreneurship in 2005, Ashoka U has been at the forefront of the academic field of social entrepreneurship. Ashoka U’s mission is to foster and accelerate teaching, research, and action in social entrepreneurship, seeking to set a new standard of excellence in the field. The vision of Ashoka U is to catalyze the re-invention of higher education, envisioning a day when colleges and universities everywhere serve as an enabling environment for social innovation, providing individuals with access to the resources, learning opportunities, role models, and peer community needed to actualize their full potential as social entrepreneurs and changemakers. 

Ashoka U contact: Marina Kim, Director, or 703.600.8318.


Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is recognized internationally as a leader in entrepreneurial management education. Babson grants BS degrees through its innovative undergraduate program, and grants MBA and custom MS and MBA degrees through the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. Babson Executive Education offers executive development programs to experienced managers worldwide. For information, visit

By Nancy Sullivan,, 781-239-4623 | 02/14/2011 06:00