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GWupstart connects GW students with mentors who offer advice and guidance on how to make students’ ideas become reality. Mentors are social entrepreneurs, faculty, alumni, experts in a field, and practitioners. Email the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service with your mentoring needs to be connected with the right kind of mentor for you.
We would love to have you serve as a mentor! Email the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service to express your interest in serving as a mentor to GW’s student social entrepreneurs. We accept flexible, tailored commitments that are reviewed and renewed annually.
- GW Business Plan Competition
- Office of Entrepreneurship
- GW Sustainability Initiative
- Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence
- Social Entrepreneurship Conference Certificate
- The First Year Development Program (FYDP)
- The Compass Fellowship
- Nonprofit Enterprise
“With the addition of the new social entrepreneurship track, the GW Business Plan Competition will now serve not only those GW students desiring to found traditional, profitable businesses but also those valuing equally a social or environmental bottom line,” said John Rollins, the Founder and Director of the GW Business Plan Competition.
The GW Business Plan Competition was launched in 2009 thanks to a generous grant from Richard and Annette Scott. The competition was created to give students, faculty and alumni a real world experiential learning opportunity in entrepreneurship. It also aims to foster an entrepreneurial climate at GW and allows business plan competition winners to actually launch and operate their ventures while maintaining complete control.
The GW Business Plan Competition has grown significantly over the five years since it was founded. The cash prizes have grown from $30,000 to over $100,000 and the number of teams has increased to an average of 122 for the past three years, the largest of any competition in the region. Having started at the School of Business, all schools and colleges comprising GW now have students participating in the annual competition. Of more significance to students, the competition now provides a mentor to any team advancing past the first round and, with online judging, the judges’ comments are fed back verbatim to the teams so that they can tweak their plans before submitting in the next round.
“GW is about empowering our students to make history. Social entrepreneurs take on the biggest problems that plague society, and measure the success of their solutions by overall social value created, not just revenue or profit. I can’t think of a more impactful pursuit, and am thrilled to be supporting GWupstart," said Jim Chung, Executive Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship.
The Office of Entrepreneurship is committed to promoting excellence in multidisciplinary entrepreneurship, innovation, and regional engagement in new venture creation at GW. Founded in 2010, the office has worked closely with thousands of aspiring student, faculty, and alumni entrepreneurs, and now serves as a focal point to foster, promote, and perpetuate quality academic research, education, and outreach programs. It leverages the unique strengths of our university’s schools in the nation’s capital to serve society at large through the knowledge and practice of entrepreneurship.
Executive Director Jim Chung coordinates and teaches workshops tailored to the needs of profit-motivated entrepreneurs, which are geared towards students planning to enter the GW Business Plan Competition. These workshops are also valuable for social entrepreneurs. In Fall 2013, Melanie Fedri, the university’s Coordinator for Social Entrepreneurship based in the Nashman Center, joins Jim in teaching How to Build a Startup, which espouses the highly effective “lean startup” approach.
“The Lean Startup approach connects the grand visions of the social entrepreneur with the nitty gritty of creating a sustainable venture for social change. It is just as important for the social entrepreneur to ensure that there is a clear business model with a good product-market fit and revenue/fundraising streams that are greater than costs,” said Jim Chung. You can see the workshop schedule and sign up here.
"As residents of Earth and users of its natural systems, we face some pretty hefty challenges - climate change, water scarcity, equitable distribution of natural resources - to name a few. We all contribute to the problems, but we can all be part of the solutions. GWupstart is the program for students who want their ideas to improve the lives of people on this planet, and who have a desire to inspire innovation both on campus and around the world,” said Meghan Chapple-Brown, Director, Office of Sustainability, Division of Operations and Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
The Office of Sustainability provides a strategic home for sustainability initiatives at GW, helping students and the university’s wider community engage in sustainability policy and governance, with a vision to create resource systems that are healthy and thriving for all. It engages GW’s sustainability related operations, teaching, research, and outreach.
The Undergraduate Minor in Sustainability allows students to explore the challenges of sustainability and to think about how to develop solutions to pressing issues at the local, regional, and global scale. It introduces students to the principles of sustainability and integrates classroom- and community-based learning and research. The minor features a team-taught introductory course (SUST 1001 Introduction to Sustainability), with faculty from several schools participating, and a capstone experience for junior or senior students.
“Complex interdisciplinary concepts such as sustainability cannot be taught in the classroom alone. GWupstart provides a unique real-world opportunity for students to apply their learning to further the good of the local, regional and global community through social entrepreneurship. Students participating in GWupstart will now be able to count this towards their Sustainability Minor,” said Lisa Benton-Short, Interim Director of the GW Institute for Sustainability and Academic Program Director for Sustainability.
"The Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE) is committed to helping students create and develop organizations that 'make meaning, not just money.' The key to a successful new venture is based on the axiom that 'success follows passion, passion does not follow success.' Thus being successful and making meaning are the keys to a social entrepreneurship undertaking," said Dr. George Solomon, CFEE's Co-Director and Associate Professor of Management in the GWSB.
Established in 2005, the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE) engages in research and scholarship on entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurial leadership, women's entrepreneurial leadership, and new venture development. CFEE works with partners across the university to build on the nationally-recognized achievements of the GW School of Business (GWSB) in the field of entrepreneurship education and to further promote entrepreneurship among students and wider GW community. The GWSB takes the position that “it’s time for business to re-embed itself in global society to create positive, sustainable change,” and CFEE aims to advance GWSB’s commitment to develop mutually beneficial programs that integrate academic objectives with the real needs of the wider business community.
CFEE focuses on research, service, and education. One prominent, ongoing research project is the National Survey of Entrepreneurship Education, headed by Dr. George Solomon for over 30 years. The survey tracks the dynamic rise of entrepreneurship education in US colleges and universities. CFEE is a key sponsor of the GW Business Plan Competition and provides the funds for the alway popular Audience Choice Award.
“The opportunity to engage in business to make profits, yet also have a meaningful career and have a positive social impact is what social entrepreneurship at its core really thrives to accomplish. The one-day certificate program will start to explore these concepts through various analytical and practical lenses," said Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, the certificate’s lead creator.
A pre-conference opportunity of the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference held in October on GW’s campus, the Social Entrepreneurship (SE) Conference Certificate Program provides a deeper understanding of this emerging field through guest speakers, case discussion, lecture, and participation presentations. The program addresses three interwoven elements: (1) the field of social entrepreneurship from an individual, organizational, and external environment; (2) the business structures, individuals, and systems used by social entrepreneurs; (3) the mechanics, tensions, and realities of starting and/or managing a social enterprise. The program is offered through a partnership of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), the ICSB Foundation, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE).
The next opportunity to complete this program is Wednesday, October 16th, 9am – 5pm on GW’s campus. Register here.
The conference certificate is coordinated by Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, who is currently an Associate Teaching Professor of Management. He teaches various courses including Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, and Innovation and Creativity in the MBA on-campus and online program. Dr. El Tarabishy was awarded Most Outstanding Core and Elective faculty voted by students three years consecutively in 2013, 2012, and 2011. He created the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference, which connects the most cutting edge entrepreneurship research to the most pressing policy developments aimed at promoting entrepreneurship.
“Social Entrepreneurship is about you being good and passionate at everything you do and also doing good to help your fellow humans. You can accomplish both at the highest level with a new mindset by integrating science, business, and humanities. It is not a revolutionary idea, but it is so vital in today’s dynamic world. My students elevate to a whole new standard after they incorporate these ideas into everything they do,” said Dr. El Tarabishy.
FYDP is a required two-semester sequence of courses developed for GW School of Business (GWSB) freshmen and taught mostly by the Undergraduate Advising and Programs staff. Upperclassmen serve as mentors who assist FYDP instructors with breakout discussion sessions that cover a variety of business topics, including social entrepreneurship. FYDP gives freshmen a hands-on introduction to social entrepreneurship through Lemonade Day D.C., a program that teaches 4th-7th grade youth about starting and running their own businesses.
“Lemonade Day D.C. deepens our students understanding of social entrepreneurship. It’s amazing to watch them teach business concepts and interact with DC youth. This project broadens our students’ minds and makes them think about the impact they can have on the world,” said David Ruda, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs.
Business students design and prepare lessons for DC youth to engage them in concepts such as fundraising, budgeting, and goal-setting to build their very own lemonade stands. The DC youth develop relationships with college students while learning about budget, achieving goals, and earning money.
“Lemonade Day D.C. helped me develop leadership skills inside and outside the classroom environment, making me realize that something as simple as helping a child develop a business plan for their lemonade stand can change their entire outlook on future decisions and aspirations,” said sophomore Melanie Rodriguez.
The Compass Fellowship
""Social entrepreneurship education helps student see the local and global problems around them as incredible opportunities to do well by doing good. A social entrepreneurial mindset is a powerful tool for adding value to any sector, public or private. More social entrepreneurship education and training at GW will result in more empathetic young leaders ready to make money and make a bunch of positive change," said Alex Simon, Executive Director of Compass Partners, a Compass Fellow alum, and a GW alum.
The Compass Fellowship is a unique community of 15 freshmen fellows and 5 upperclassmen mentors who want to become social entrepreneurs. Each week the fellowship meets with a CEO, author, or social activist to discuss weekly themes that range from setting goals to incorporating a business. Through these weekly modules and even more personalized meetings with mentors, fellows leverage their passions by developing a social business that they ultimately launch. Additionally, fellows are exposed to the four main Compass Fellowship events: a community-building retreat, speed-networking bootcamp, Shift Series Conference in Washington, DC, and a graduation reception in which fellows present their ventures.
The Compass Fellowship has allowed students from all walks of life and across different areas of the University to come together and form a family that is centered around making the world a better place. I have seen Fellows realize their passions and use their insight and experience to set achievable goals that will make an innovative impact in Fortune 500's, non-profits, and the ventures they create. These entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are the next generation of leaders, innovators, and disruptors," said Hunter Pritchard, a Compass Fellow alum, mentor and a GW senior.
“Nonprofit Enterprise is always an exciting course to teach because it brings entrepreneurs, practitioners and think tank staff members to campus and allows students to acquire first-hand knowledge about the potential connections between social enterprise and their future work," says Professor Jasmine McGinnis Johnson. As an Assistant Professor in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration, McGinnis Johnson teaches Nonprofit Enterprise to graduate students across the University during the Spring semester. Professor McGinnis Johnson's primary research interest concerns public participation in philanthropic organizations. As a former nonprofit practitioner, she always looks forward to extending the knowledge base and tools that GW student leaders have at their fingertips.
- Application for funding (PLEASE USE ONLY TO PREPARE TEXT PRIOR TO SUBMISSION THROUGH ONLINE APPLICATION PORTAL)
- Project Timeline Template
- Letter of Community Support Template
- PSGC Budget Template Form
- Knapp Service-Learning Fellowship
- Center for Undergraduate Fellowships
- Center for Graduate Fellowships
- GW Office of Entrepreneurship
Washington, DC Resources: