The David Lingren Fellowship for Social Innovation was established in 2007 to support students who are dedicated to social innovation. Lingren is a graduate of the Tepper School who is committed to using social entrepreneurship to address many of the challenging issues facing society.
At the Institute for Social Innovation (ISI), our students are excited to turn their ideas into action. To help our students develop their ideas, we have launched the Anne V. Lewis, HNZ 1990, and Edward J. Lewis Post-Graduate Fellowship in Social Innovation. The Lewis Fellowship provides the necessary physical space and overhead costs to allow recent Heinz College graduates to launch their ideas and create organizations that address social needs. The Incubator is in its early stages, but has been able to provide modest support to several of our graduates. Some of these students, now alumni, have carried their inspiration out of the classroom and into the world. A few examples of what some have accomplished thus far:
Based on research they conducted at Heinz College, three recent graduates created GTECH Strategies (Growth Through Energy and Community Health) to reclaim idle land to create both energy and jobs. Today, they're growing crops like switchgrass and canola plants, which not only serve as raw material for clean-burning biofuels, but also help detoxify the ground. The process elevates property values and serves as a bridge to commercial or residential development. They're also developing a Green Job Corps program to prepare adolescents and young adults for entry-level jobs in environmental enterprises. As a result of their innovative approach to brownfield reclamation, they have been named 2008 Echoing Green Fellows, a highly competitive program for budding social entrepreneurs of which less than 1 percent of all applicants are awarded this prestigious fellowship.
Samantha Bushman founded Talk in response to several pressing, unmet needs among young people during her time as ISI’s first official Fellow: the practical knowledge and skills to effectively navigate the complexity of teenage life, the opportunity to ask “real questions,” and the support necessary to make informed, responsible choices. The two-fold model she designed addresses the pitfalls and limitations of existing approaches and leverages the contributions of both parents and highly-trained educators. The parent program provides strategies for creating a productive, meaningful dialogue with teens to help guide their decision-making. The teen program combines best practices with the concept of a near-peer educator who is both old enough to be credible, and young enough to readily connect with participants. Talk’s mission is to create a national corps of recent college graduates dedicated to this effort. Sam conceived and began to develop her idea during the spring 2008 offering of Jerr Boschee’s Social Innovation Incubator class. After conducting 3 successful pilots, Sam is currently forging school partnerships and adapting the teen program to be delivered in the classroom. She recently initiated a $2 million fundraising campaign to bring Talk’s model to more children and families in Western Pennsylvania.
As a part of a social enterprise business plan competition sponsored by the ISI, ePanacea was conceived as a venture aimed at solving the growing e-waste crisis. E-waste consists of discarded electronic equipment, like computer parts, cell phones and gaming devices. It contains toxic materials such as lead and mercury, and it's currently being dumped illegally in many places, often being rerouted to less industrialized nations. The e-waste is burned and thrown in landfills. Worse yet, in some third-world countries, children are used to retrieve its precious metals. ePanacea’s plan aims to gather all types of e-waste across the United States and recycle or discard it through legal, ethical business partnerships. This web-based company would allow clients to dispose of all types of e-waste, including bulky printers, while assuring them of secure cleaning and tracking. ePanacea won the Heinz College’s contest, and the team entered the TIC Americas competition held in Medellin, Colombia. Out of 854 entrants, they were recently named one of only 29 finalists. They have since been invited to the TIC Asia competition.