What is the Kenan Challenge?
The Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic University has been challenged to match a $1,000,000.00 gift to the Kenan Social Engagement Program! The generous benefactor will match donations dollar-for-dollar. If the college raises $1 million, then it will receive an additional $1 million.
What will my donation support?
The Kenan Social Engagement Scholarship Program provides scholarships and seed funding to Wilkes Honors College students who learn about social entrepreneurship and write business plans to start their own social enterprises. The co-directors of the Kenan Program, Dr. Timothy Steigenga and Dr. Christopher Strain, have designed the program to educate students in the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship; help them develop plans for addressing a pressing social need; and assist them in partnering with nonprofit organizations. They note, “The implementation of these plans makes a difference in the lives of our students and the community, giving students first-hand experience with entrepreneurship and the non-profit sector while also making a social impact.”
Social enterprises initiated by Honors College students in this program include:
• A landscaping business employing formerly homeless individuals at the Lord’s Place.
• An art program that not only engages children during long-term hospital stays but also raises funds for the Quantum House.
• An after-school cooking program in collaboration with the Food Bank of Palm Beach County that provides fresh food to kids at the Edna Runner Tutorial Center and teaches them about healthy eating.
• A multicultural guide for health resources at El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center.
• A one-for-one drum sales program that provides instruments and training to underserved youth in West Palm Beach.
• A food recycling program that turns food waste into high-quality fertilizer.
• A research project on educational strategies for to re-integrate child soldiers in Liberia.
How can I spread the word?
If you would like to help Honors College students make the world a better place, click the button on your right! Then be sure to submit your idea for a social business venture via Facebook using the hashtag #KenanChallenge! Share your ideas via Facebook after you donate using our Secure Website. Post a video or a photo of yourself and explain your idea for bettering the world using the hashtag #KenanChallenge, and the Wilkes Honors College will highlight the best ideas received on its Facebook page.
Wilkes Honors College, FAU
5353 Parkside Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458
Ben Arsali '15
Kenan Scholar and winner of the $15,000 start-up funding
"Getting involved in the world of social entrepreneurship has really changed my life".
Getting involved in the world of social entrepreneurship has really changed my life. Due to the generous grant from the Kenan Foundation, I was able to kick-off the non-profit landscaping company that I proposed in my business plan. The first step into breaking the cycle of homelessness is employment. This company has already begun to change lives in the community. We are projected to employ 25-50 formerly homeless individuals within three years.—Read more here
about Ben Arsali's story.
Let it Rot is an organic waste recycling company that uses vermiculture (the farming of earthworms) to produce garden products out of garbage. Let it Rot was founded by Melissa Corichi, in 2015 as part of the Kenan Social Engagement Program. Under the guidance of Dr. Timothy Steigenga and Dr. Christopher Strain, Melissa was able to write and develop a viable business plan that not only benefits the community and environment, but also generates profits. Currently, Let it Rot recycles 500 pounds of food and paper based waste materials by using it as a feed stock for its colony of earthworms. Melissa has plans to expand the operation by securing a 1/5 acre of land and began construction on a new worm farming facility in August of 2016, which will make Let it Rot one of the largest worm farms in the state of Florida.
Lauren Koff ’14 and Cristina Rodriguez ’14
Cristina Rodriguez ’15 and Lauren Koff ’15 co-founded Mind&Melody, Inc.
, a non-profit organization that implements music programs for individuals with neurological impairments with the help of the Kenan Social Engagment Program. Now, with more than 150 volunteers, Mind&Melody is conducting its music education program at six wellness centers throughout Florida. Two of those are in Miami-Dade — Easter Seals South Florida and My New Oasis — and five have begun paying for the service. The program is meant to enrich the lives of those being treated for dementia, Alzheimer’s and other similar neurological conditions. Mind&Melody volunteers teach those with an interest in music to play instruments, then play along with them.“If we can just make people’s lives easier, or bring some joy through that entire process, it’s worth it,” Rodriguez said. The organization was recently profiled in the Miami Herald
for its growth, to more than 150 volunteers and programs in six wellness centers throughout Florida. “If we can just make people’s lives easier, or bring some joy through that entire process, it’s worth it,” said Rodriguez. Read more
Jaspar Leahy '15
My time as a Kenan Social Engagement scholar was a formative period of my academic and professional life. Before I took the Social Entrepreneurship course, I had a vague idea about how I could make my interests in social action and international studies combine, but it was during that time that I decided to pursue an applied thesis working on educational strategies to reach former child soldiers in Liberia. After graduation, I worked in the field of refugee resettlement and have continued on to a Master’s program at Teachers College, Columbia University in International Educational Development.
Thinking back to my time as a Kenan scholar, I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me as a young woman to be in a space where I was able to think about alternate methods of conducting business. Even though I had always grown up believing in the equality of women and men, I was still socialized to think that business was a men's field, and most of what I heard or experienced in the field was based on principles of competition and capital gain which were not things that motivated me. Once I began to learn about social entrepreneurship, my attitudes towards business began to change. I recognized that I appreciated what business could accomplish if you moved beyond the bottom line to a double or triple bottom line. Sustainability and meeting a social need motivate me in a way that competition and capital gain could not. I learned that business skills are incredibly useful in any endeavor, especially when coupled with a desire to create meaningful social impact.
Akemi Inamoto '15
"This program has allowed me to impact the lives of those who are less fortunate." I have been working with a local non-profit, The Lord's Place, which seeks to break the cycle of homelessness in West Palm Beach Florida. My project, called Studio 7-1-1, consists of working with the female residents in the women's campus of the Lord's Place. These formerly homeless women create a variety of goods like greeting cards, seasonal ornaments, and other products from recycled materials that are later sold and the proceeds go towards a fund for the women who made these craft. I am very thankful for this opportunity for it has a great learning experience and it has also been very rewarding.
Melanie Oats '16
“The Kenan Social Entrepreneurship Program is an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about both the non-profit and business sectors while helping address societal issues within their own community. While taking part in the program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the non-profit system and work directly with local non-profit organizations to combat the issue of hunger in Palm Beach County. It also provided me with invaluable business-planning skills that I will be able to utilize in a wide variety of settings throughout the rest of my life. All in all, this program is an amazing experience for students of any background or concentration to learn more about their community and how to productively engage with it.”
Gabrielle Vitucci '14
“My social venture was in collaboration with El Sol – Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center. I decided to do a project combining two existing programs at the center; one, a sewing class that taught incoming generating sewing skills and two, a kitchen that was currently providing lunch for the workers at the center each day. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a part of this program. Where else does an undergraduate political science major get training on how to write a business plan? Having helpful professors who want to see you succeed while trying to make a positive social impact made it a challenging but rewarding experience for me.” Gabby currently works as a coordinator for the administration office of FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus.
Megan Keith '14
”My project focused on developing a guide to local health and transportation services for members of the immigrant community. My goal was to develop an easy-to-read guide written in Spanish that would allow members of the immigrant community to quickly find the health service best suited to their needs. By working with the health education staff at El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center, I was able to survey members of the community and ask them what information would be most helpful to them. El Sol has since been able to develop more detailed information to be distributed among Jupiter’s immigrant community, creating a healthier and safer environment throughout the city.” –Megan Geiger Keith graduated from the Honors College in 2014 and received her M.A. in Religious Studies from UF in 2016. She currently works as an admissions recruiter for the Wilkes Honors College of FAU.
The Wilkes Honors College Kenan Social Engagement Program provides financial assistance to Wilkes Honors College students who combine the best practices of academic service learning, social entrepreneurship, and public-private partnerships. The goals of this program are to educate students in the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship, to help them develop plans for addressing social needs, to assist them in partnering with nonprofit organizations, and to fund the start-up phase of their business plans.
Details of the Scholarship:
All applicants will be required to complete a three-credit course in social entrepreneurship (IDS 3932: Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship) during the Fall semester during which they will write a business plan for a social venture. Up to three students will be awarded scholarships based on their business plans. After scholarships are awarded, students will register for a 1-credit Directed Independent Study on social entrepreneurship during which they will implement their business plans; report on the projects; and develop an ongoing, sustainable plan for continuation of their social ventures. Each student may receive:
Proposals from qualified students will be reviewed and one may be selected to receive a $10,000 seed grant (rather than $2500) for the project deemed most likely to make a positive and sustainable difference in the community. Further details of the program are outlined in the application.
- $1000/ per semester in scholarship money which is stackable with existing HC scholarship awards(renewable as noted above)
- (Students receiving the Flagler, Cornell or other full scholarship cannot stack this part of the award).
- $2500 in seed money to initiate a service project proposed by the student;
- Be a full-time Wilkes Honors College student in good standing who has a minimum of two years remaining at the Wilkes Honors College at the time of application; Provide evidence of relevant skills (computer skills, website development, fundraising experience, etc.);
- Provide evidence of a commitment to community service and an interest in social entrepreneurship;
- Achieve and maintain a cumulative Wilkes Honors College GPA of 3.25 or above; Submit scholarship application and supportive materials to Dr. Strain and Dr. Steigenga prior to the application deadline.
- Take IDS 3932 Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship with Dr. Strain and Dr. Steigenga.
Register for IDS 3932: Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Entrepreneurship in the Fall Semester
- Completed and signed application form;
- Official or unofficial transcripts of academic record for all college work attempted; At least one letter of recommendation that addresses the candidate s commitment to community service, critical thinking ability, work habits, and other relevant skills (the letter must be from someone who is not a member of the scholarship committee);
- A resume detailing community service, employment history, academic achievements, skills and interests, and honors and awards;
- A brief (not to exceed 500 words) essay detailing your interest in service;
- A brief (not to exceed 500 words) explanation of unmet financial need.