Many parents in Roatan are unable to properly care for their children because they lack financial support and education. As a result, the children are taken out of their parents’ care and placed in an orphanage. Stimac designed a project to help the children by supporting their mothers. The project has two phases: to educate the women in skills that will help them find a healthy and sustainable job, and second, to open a hostel that will employ the trained women in a safe environment.
At North Central College, Stimac and other students were given the opportunity to put their plans into action and make a difference in the world through the Social Innovation Challenge.
Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to participate in the challenge through a pitch competition in November and to present their ideas for innovative projects or social ventures. Some 50 students submitted proposals, including two fall term classes in the Leadership, Ethics and Values (LEV) program—LEV 335 Social Impact Entrepreneurship and LEV 301 Social Change and Servant Leadership. As part of their coursework, students were required to develop social entrepreneurship or leadership projects and encouraged to enter their final projects in the competition.
The challenge was organized by Student Affairs, the LEV program and Students for Social Innovation. “The idea was to create this challenge where students can actually complete a project with real social impact that they might not be able to do otherwise,” said Whitney Roberts ’08/M ’13, instructor for the LEV 301 course and assistant director for civic engagement.
Students were asked to create an idea proposal, implementation plan and proposed budget as a part of the pitch. After an initial presentation to Roberts and Jeremy Gudauskas ’99, instructor for the LEV 335 course and associate dean of students, 10 students were selected as finalists to present to a panel of judges during week 10 of fall term. Stimac was one of the 10.
The panel included North Central College President Troy Hammond, Matt Moran ’03 of the Mironda Heston Grant Committee, Sarah Schmidgall ’02 of the Schmidgall Family Foundation, and Diane Middlebrook of Itasca Bank & Trust Co. and the Women’s Initiative.
Four winners were named and each will receive mentoring and guidance through the LEV program, access to resources through Converge, North Central’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and part of $13,000 to turn their ideas into a reality. “If there were barriers related to money or guidance from faculty, we wanted to remove them,” said Roberts.