SOLES Student Eric Cross Receives Social Innovation Award
Eric Cross, a SOLES master’s cohort credential (MCC) student and science teacher at Albert Einstein Elementary, has been awarded $15,000 through USD’s Social Innovation Challenge to support his project, Green Room. Focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Green Room is designed to be embedded into a school’s existing science classroom and inspire students to explore STEM fields through green technology projects in their neighborhoods.
In its first year, Cross will launch Green Room at Albert Einstein Elementary, reaching 200 students. “We already have several classroom layout concepts and curriculum designs that we've experimented with this year that can now be put into place” says Cross. “I'm excited to spend the summer expanding our STEM support network and preparing my students for an amazing science experience next year.”
After the first year, Green Room will post the framework, including course curriculum, research data, supporting contacts, videos and other resources, online for other educators to use to reproduce the model.. The lessons will be designed with local student areas in mind, creating out-of-class learning opportunities for a population that has low accessibility to enrichment experiences such as trips to science museums or enrollment in science camps. Though the project will require some startup capital to purchase lab equipment, transportation costs and classroom furniture, the program will be self-sustainable in the following years with the school’s existing science budget
As a middle school student in San Diego, Cross enrolled in an internship that targeted at-risk minority students and introduced them to biochemistry. The program sparked his passion for science. Though he spent several years consulting in both the nonprofit and private sectors, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming an educator, as it would enable him to make an impact on students. Launching Green Room at Albert Einstein Academy gives Cross the opportunity to combine his passion for STEM education with his business entrepreneurial acumen.
USD’s Social Innovation Challenge, created by the university’s Center for Peace and Commerce, promotes, guides, and supports student-driven ideas to launch or contribute to social enterprises. From its inception in 2011 through 2013, the contest has awarded $85,500 in cash prizes for student entrepreneurial ventures. In 2014, the challenge awarded $50,000 to USD students and expanded to other San Diego universities with an additional $22,500 in awards.
Cross is among several SOLES’ students to have won funding through the contest. Andrew Rae, a student in SOLES’ nonprofit leadership management program, has earned a total of $7,500 over the past two years, $5,000 this year for his project G.R.O.W.I.N.G. and $2,500 for a project he created with Kroc School of Peace Studies’ student Grace Michael called Homespun. Teresa Smith, another student from the nonprofit leadership master’s program, won $10,000 each for her projects Eat Better Today in 2012 and Safe Parking Program in 2013. Also in 2013, Kyle Miller, Negin Mani, Chris Barrett and Adriana Kaplan, undergraduate students in the leadership minor program received $4,000 for their project Lace Up Stand Up.