Back in 2009, a student group on campus from business and peace schools had a creative, but somewhat risky idea: Why not award students who have great ideas to create solutions or opportunities for vulnerable populations? Within a year, this idea came to fruition in the form of the Social Innovation Challenge (SIC), and has awarded $42,000 in prize money to such social ventures as a mobile catering truck that sells healthy food to the homeless; special animated videos for improving educational outcomes among autistic children; recycling in La Jolla to provide drinking water in rural Haiti; and a tractor rental project that can increase productivity while keeping costs low for villagers in Tanzania, Africa. These are social venture models that can generate profits while also improving people and the planet. In the process, we believe, we move toward a more peaceful world.
If the past winners of the SIC have one thing in common, it is this: an excellent presentation of a great idea that has tremendous potential for improving lives or the environment. However, this does not happen by magic overnight! In 2011-12, the Center for Peace and Commerce—in partnership with the USD Changemaker Hub, under the capable leadership of Patricia Marquez and Nadia Auch—decided to provide support to students in order to assist them from the “imagination” stage all the way to successful completion—and the IdeaLab was born!
This year, we plan to expand and enhance the IdeaLab program based on feedback we received last year. We are bringing in top-notch entrepreneurs with real-world experience to generate enthusiasm and provide real-world feedback on how to bring a social business to fruition. There are seven IdeaLabs scheduled for 2012-13. Each one is self-contained so students can plug in at any time, though they are designed to assist students to progress from beginning to end. In addition to meeting with top-notch speakers, students will also meet with the Center for Peace and Commerce staff and other students who are also interested in building a social venture.
In what follows below, we outline the 2012 IdeaLab schedule. We have designed this graphically to look like a map . . . so let the journey begin!!!