More than 85% of social enterprises shut down within the first three years of operation. A major reason for this is limited access to specialized technical expertise and talent, which is essential in the initial, crucial stages of developing a solution. Emerging and early stage social enterprises either lack the required resources or direct them to other pressing needs to stay afloat. These services are costly largely due to the need for highly skilled and technically trained people. This results in institutional and operational hurdles, and limited growth for these impact organizations. Simultaneously, there is a rapidly growing pool of students and industry professionals looking for social sector learning opportunities. The Impact Collective harnesses this opportunity and embodies the value of building a network and ecosystem for collective action – the collective mobilizes and matches students and industry professionals with social enterprises who have technical needs. It brings together industry professionals, domain experts, and students from various disciplines and technical areas to form interdisciplinary technical consulting teams to serve impact organizations for social change.
Imagine graduating from college and having to wait three to five years before getting a stable job — this is the story of many young Nigerian college graduates. Madojo seeks to connect college students, employers, and entrepreneurial opportunities in Nigeria by hosting and micro-credentialing professional case challenge experiences. The name Madojo is coined from the words for community in the three major languages in Nigeria (Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba). As a community of learners and opportunity seekers, the web-platform combined with in-person networks across major private and public universities in Nigeria will prepare students through real-world business cases to bridge the experience gap between the skills that students have and what employers in Nigeria seek in ideal candidates. The goal is to be a community of the future where professional trust is built on shared experiences and expectations that are publicly verified on a blockchain through micro-credentialing.
Unemployment and underemployment affect roughly 70% of all Americans in the deaf community. Signum is a video chat solution created to solve this problem. Designed as a workforce development tool, Signum utilizes a machine learning model to translate video of ASL gestures to text, easing communication for people with hearing and speech impairments who can only communicate in ASL. Although several other startups are currently developing similar technologies, Signum distinguishes a gap in the market due to its emphasis on providing an inexpensive and non-intrusive means of communication targeted towards removing barriers in the workplace. Signum’s current target market is “functionally deaf” ASL users in the workforce between 18 and 35-years old. Signum will be used in conjunction with popular workforce video chat platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Cisco WebEx to expand to a broader audience and impact millions of lives.
My Earth is a social enterprise that provides training and employment for Australia’s remote Indigenous communities in the construction industry. My Earth engages local people to construct low-cost but high-quality, environmentally-sustainable housing. It uses locally-sourced soil as the primary building material, in a technique called Compressed Earth Block (CEB) technology. This construction technique has been demonstrated in East Africa, but not widely adopted in Australia. CEB is a low-skill construction technique, which enables My Earth to engage people who may have missed out on a good education. The program uses a flexible, tiered training and employment model to lower the barriers to entry into the labor market. It starts with brick pressing and a builder-trainer program, and ultimately ongoing employment in local construction and maintenance. Its flexibility, direct linkage to a job pipeline, and commitment to community involvement, sets it apart from traditional remote workforce development projects.
Of the ~200,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon between the ages of 18 and 25 years, only 4% have access to formal education. Many of the current education programs do not focus on hands-on technical education and are not designed to reach the remote areas, where most refugees live. The innovative approach to these challenges is a mobile makerspace & education center (MMEC). The MMEC will take form as a van equipped with tools and materials that drives to different settlements to teach young refugees craftsmanship skills, for example in woodworking or sewing. This will enable the participants to learn the skills required to seek employment, while at the same time building items they need to improve the living conditions in the camps, such as furniture or toys. The program intends to provide a novel, highly individualized approach to education for underserved populations.
The healthcare field requires people who can navigate cultural barriers to communicate with and comfort patients. However, the current underrepresentation of minorities among health professionals is detrimental to the quality of patient care in the healthcare system. Helix is a non-profit organization working to diversify the healthcare workforce by facilitating direct exposure to health professions for high school students from minority backgrounds, allowing students to explore potential health careers. Attending Helix’s free one-week immersion program and subsequent four-week health internship will provide aspiring pre-health high school students with an unparalleled opportunity to participate in biological and clinical skill labs, obtain a CPR certification, and shadow a variety of health professionals from similar backgrounds. Through the Helix experience, students will not only discover and develop their interests, but also realize that they are not alone in their pursuits and that success is attainable.
Witnessing the long-standing and urgent social need for accessible and affordable professional training in special and inclusive education in Mainland China, the Special Education Professional Enrichment Training (SEPET) Team will establish a learning channel for special education professionals through China’s most popular mobile social application “WeChat.” This channel can hold mobile distance training courses and help disseminate open resources, functioning as a mobile resource hub with regard to inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream public schools within China and beyond. Through continuous and effective professional training and growth, course takers are enabled to better facilitate and ensure inclusion of school-aged children with disabilities in mainstream public schools by, in particular, tackling safety issues through behavior intervention and management.
Across Burkina Faso and Africa, the inadequacy of skills in the workplace greatly contributes to the non-utilization of the continent’s human potential. This issue, rooted in the inadequacy of the education students receive in schools, explains their low employability and lack of skills to innovate. LEAD emerges in this context with a mission to prepare students for the workplace in Africa. The school will offer a unique curriculum aimed at immersing students in general education, as well as practical and technical education, all in a framework focused on developing entrepreneurial thought and action. LEAD will nurture students who have the skills required for successful entry in the workforce, and who will use their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge to innovate on the technical and practical skills they learn in the school. LEAD aims to graduate not just qualified job seekers for Burkina Faso and the continent, but also job creators.