The Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES) is holding its first annual Social Impact Week this week to address what it sees as a lack of resources for entrepreneurs who want to give back to their community. The week’s events include a career fair, two keynote addresses by leaders of nonprofit organizations and dynamic discussions between students and social entrepreneurs.
“The hope is to try and bridge the gap between entrepreneurship and providing social benefits in our community,” said Marly Carlisle ’17, a social impact officer for BASES. “[We are] an entrepreneurial organization, but we want to emphasize the importance of social impact and how it can be incorporated into entrepreneurship.”
Social Impact Week will begin Wednesday, Oct. 7 with a social impact career fair at Paul Brest Hall, where over 50 organizations will be available for students. The fair is sponsored by BEAM, Stanford Career Education (formerly the Career Development Center); the Haas Center for Public Service; and the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS).
After last week’s career fairs, whose companies included tech giants, consulting firms and many other for-profit organizations, this event hopes to connect students to a different side of entrepreneurship.
“[Students] will have the unique opportunity to network with NGOs and nonprofits that have some type of social impact focus,” Carlisle said.
According to Carlisle, many organizations that focus on social impact, like the ones at the upcoming career fair, don’t start hiring new employees until the spring when their funding cycles start. This is why many students looking for jobs, particularly seniors and graduate students, can’t find opportunities in social entrepreneurship early in the academic year.
The Social Impact Career Fair aims to ease some of the panic by bringing organizations with a social impact focus directly to Stanford students.
“Social Impact week really gives space for incredible organizations and initiatives who often have to compete with shinier brand organizations and large corporations,” Carlisle said.
The week’s first keynote speaker, Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach for America (TFA), will speak about her journey to TFA and her choice of social entrepreneurship as a career. Having joined TFA 15 years ago, she has since worked her way up until she became co-CEO in 2013. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 in building 420-40.
After Villanueva Beard’s address, BASES will hold dynamic discussions with leaders from other social impact organizations, and students will have the opportunity to speak with four guest speakers who have founded their own non-profits in the fields of education and social justice.
Angela Sy ’16, co-president of BASES, hopes students will leave the discussions with some sort of tangible connection to the workshop leader. She encourages students to come to the discussions prepared with questions – whether they are about the speakers’ companies or even more personal.
Jim Gibbons, CEO of Goodwill Industries International, will give the second keynote address on Friday, Oct. 9 in CEMEX Auditorium and will speak about his “experience navigating social impact,” according to Carlisle. Gibbons, who was the first blind man to graduate from Harvard Business School, was president and CEO of National Industries for the Blind before becoming Goodwill’s president and CEO in 2008.
Members of BASES’ Social Impact team are excited to bring these speakers to the Stanford community.
“Jim Gibbons expressed automatic interest,” Carlisle said. “And [Villanueva Beard] only does about two speaking events a year, so the fact that she’s coming here is a pretty big deal.”
The idea for Social Impact Week started over the summer at a meeting between social entrepreneurship organizations on campus. BASES first intended to hold one or two social impact-themed events this year but saw an opportunity for more.
“We realized that PACS was putting on the career fair and that it would be the perfect starting point for having these speakers come to campus to continue the conversation about social entrepreneurship,” Carlisle said.
Sy said the group also realized that the social impact aspect has been missing from the on-campus entrepreneurial culture. BASES created the Social Impact team last year to help students find the balance between two ideas that often seem mutually exclusive.
“Especially because of where we’re located, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of what Silicon Valley is about, but there are so many ways to use these interests and talents to make an impact in people’s lives,” said Claire Woodrow ’18, who is interested in attending the events.
Woodrow spoke about how a former Stanford student she knows began her undergraduate career with a focus on entrepreneurship and is now working for a San Francisco non-profit. Through Social Impact Week, Woodrow hopes more students will become aware that paths like her friend’s are available.
“Social Impact Week helps us look at the bigger picture of our role in the larger context of the world [beyond Silicon Valley],” Sy said.
After this week, the BASES Social Impact Team, headed by co-vice presidents Vicki Niu ’18 and Nick Hershey ’18, has more planned for the year. Events include monthly workshops called “Tackling Today’s Troubles,” which will each feature either a speaker from an entrepreneurial company or a Stanford professor. The speaker and a small group of students will then have the opportunity to discuss the target issue and some potential solutions.
“We really hope that students can gain a greater perspective on the paths available to them that involve social impact work through entrepreneurship,” Carlisle said.
Contact Sarah Ortlip-Sommers at sortlip ‘at’ stanford.edu.