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Partnerships are Atlanta’s greatest tool for change




By Jennifer Hirsch and Dori Pap of Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as guest columnist Sagdri Najaral, Senior Director of Community Innovation at the Center for Civil Innovation

Black women are pioneers of social innovation, and their long history of working to build communities, even when they are disregarded, even when they are disregarded, is recognized. Should be.

Sagdrina Jalal, Jennifer Hirsch, Dori Papp (left to right)

A common belief in the importance of supporting black women-led innovation is rare for Center for Civic Innovation (CCI), Georgia Institute of Technology Sustain Learn Serve Center (SLS), and Institute for Leadership and Social Impact (ILSI). Thing. An example of how large institutions can move the work of community leaders forward by playing a supportive role rather than a leading role.

Today, despite the historical story of equality, Atlanta is the most unequal city in the Americas. In inhabited Atlanta, who they are is still the number one determinant of their social and economic well-being. If you were born poor in Atlanta, there is a 96% chance that you will die poor in Atlanta. Recent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, did not create the Atlanta inequality they exposed. Atlanta needs a solution that reflects both the needs and voices of those who call our city home.

Cool Moms Dance Too! Founder of CCI Fellow Quiionah Wingfield (center), one technique she uses to guide participants in the SLS Social Innovation Buzz Course to exercise exercises and improve their mother’s physical and mental health through dance and fitness. Indicates. Credits: Georgia Tech

Designated by SLS as the first signing partner of an organization that regularly partners with SLS and promises to act as a co-educator for students, the CCI is designed to support and promote social innovation in the Atlanta region. We are working with SLS and ILSI on a wide range of initiatives. Partnerships truly lead to shared learning and action that goes far beyond initial involvement. By connecting students to the foundations of the Social Innovation work through community leaders, philanthropy and impartial work come to life with insights and inspiration from those who actually work every day.

Beyond programming centered around inequality efforts and the blessings of innovation, one of the most important elements of the CCI / Georgia Institute of Technology partnership is, in this case, honoring black women who are experts in the field. It is an effort to uplift. By partnering with social entrepreneurs and leaders who have long worked in sustainability and equity in Atlanta, students are encouraged by real leaders to explain the larger social innovation ecosystem. You have the opportunity to see the impact.

For organizations and individuals working to develop community-led solutions to Atlanta that widen the inequality gap, the complexity of the work, coupled with past funding challenges, creates unnecessary hurdles. For black women and other colored women, Atlanta is reluctant to listen, invest and take control, and our city is ready to meet many of the key needs of our community. Is not … For this reason, CCI takes a deliberate and thoughtful approach to all aspects of the organization and respects black history and ingenuity. Georgia Institute of Technology partnerships are largely successful thanks to this shared value.

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology has evolved organically over the past five years for mutual benefit, said Jennifer Hirsch, director of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Serbraen Sustain Center. As a co-educator, teach students that approach. They also act as an important connector to community entrepreneurs and guide us to the best ways to support their work through our program. Georgia Institute of Technology, with close partners like CCI, is learning how to become a powerful anchor institution that lifts cities and territories in a way that supports us all.

Akissi Stokes (Center) The founder and president of WUNDERgrubs meets with her team of Buzz Course students. Credits: Georgia Tech

Through the SLS Buzz Course, a short two-month non-credit course on Social Innovation, students work in the neighborhood of Atlanta to tackle large-scale challenges in new creative ways, female entrepreneurs, primarily colored women. Will be introduced to. Many of them are graduates of the CCI Fellowship Program. As a unique innovation, the Buzz Course is open to faculty and community partners at Georgia Institute of Technology and other universities and colleges in the Atlanta region and participates regularly.

Social ventures run by two CCI graduates give a glimpse into how these Social Innovation Partnerships work. Akissi Stokes, founder and president of WUNDERgrubs, and Mamie Harper, founder of Carries Closet, Georgia, have begun collaborating with Georgia Institute of Technology through the Fall 2019 Social Innovation Buzz Course. About the mini project.

WUNDERgrubs is a protein-rich food made from sustainable edible insects that aims to increase nutrition in the Southeastern region. The WUNDERgrubs Buzz Course team investigated business-to-business opportunities and made product line and market recommendations. The Carry Closet of Georgia strives to improve children’s lives by providing clothing to the most vulnerable and endangered children in Georgia and defending their rights. The Georgia Buzz Course carry closet team investigated and suggested improvements in clothing donations and distribution.

The buzz course is just the beginning. SLS and ILSI are committed to working with partners in the long run. To do this, they guide the project to other programs, providing the founders with a lot of the support they need, while giving students a field experience led by some of Atlanta’s most influential social ventures. To provide. For example, a project initiated by WUNDERgrubs and Carries Closet in Georgia on a buzz course has moved to a leadership minor capstone course taught by ILSI. In this course, a team of interdisciplinary students investigated best practices for policies to notify the creation of the Georgia Foster Children’s Bill of Rights. Carried a Georgia closet to design and test the new WUNDERgrubs logo. Support for these projects will continue through the SLS Summer Internship Program the following year, and eventually the student team will participate in both projects in the ILSIs Ideas to Serve Contest and reward students for intensive problem-finding work. Gave.

SLS changed my life. I enrolled at Georgia Institute of Technology with a passion for the environment, but had no clear idea of ​​how to combine my passion and skill set in a really effective way, I met Harper during the buzz. After taking the course, Georgia Institute of Technology student Rachel Decom said, she did an internship at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Carry Closet the following summer as part of the SLS Summer Internship Program. [SLS] Creating sustainable communities means first listening to the actual needs of those communities, letting go of preconceptions and ego, and actually understanding what the problem is and what solutions are actually feasible. He taught me what it means to do. Dekom is currently working as the first paid employee on staff at Carries Closet, Georgia.

Mommy Harper, Founder of Carry’s Closet

Mommy Harper, founder of the Carry’s Closet in Georgia, said that many of us do full-time work on the status of black female innovators and entrepreneurs, dealing with the fraud of the communities we serve through the organization. I am. My buzz course team and intern Rachel have allowed me to go deeper into running my business while supporting myself. The pairing between me and Rachel was so perfect that she became our first employee! Carrie’s closet in Georgia isn’t where it is today, and without the SLS program we wouldn’t be able to grow and serve with our current capabilities.

The partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology not only helped survive the emergence of COVID-19, but also helped our business to successfully meet the needs of beneficiaries, said Akissi Stokes of WUNDERgrubs. .. Partnerships with such an avid student group at Georgia Institute of Technology have successfully transformed the company by introducing digital toolkits used by smallholders and communities to grow edible insects as a source of protein food. I was able to do. With these talents, we were able to quickly expand our capabilities and accelerate our growth potential by a factor of 10. It was easy for our company to take another 2-3 years to achieve this kind of development at a much higher price. We appreciate the opportunity to shape and learn from future leadership.

The work of Social Innovation is important and incomplete. Perhaps one of the most synergistic elements of the CCI-Georgia Tech collaboration is the recognition that both organizations must be intentional allies of the people at work. In particular, mission-driven work led by black women has a much longer history than either organization, and the brilliance of the work must be enhanced and maintained. In this partnership, CCI will provide entrepreneurs with capacity building support and support, ensure that the project moves the venture forward, and Georgia Institute of Technology ensures that students and other participants contribute and learn. I will. This division of labor guarantees mutual benefits.

Saggdrina Jalal, Senior Director of Community Innovation at CCI, said that many of the women we work with do whatever it takes to appear in our city every day. CCI’s partnership with SLS and ILSI shows what can happen if you listen to the leaders. It is a great honor to be able to participate in their wonderful work.

From time to time, the task of bending a moral arc towards justice in our city can be overwhelming and lonely. Nonetheless, the integration between CCI’s community-based approaches combined with Georgia Institute of Technology’s educational expertise provides a framework for the types of solutions that communities need to meaningfully address Atlanta inequality. .. We are looking forward to it as we are working together to develop new security guards for Atlanta leaders.

Note to Readers: Saggdrina Jalal is Senior Director of Community Innovation at the Civic Innovation Center. Jennifer Hirsch directs the Saab Learn Sustain Center and is a part-time associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Urban Planning. Dori Pap is Managing Director of the Institute of Leadership and Social Impact Research at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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