Why Social Entrepreneurship is a Smarter Way of Doing Business

Mission-driven businesses can make more money than traditional profit-only companies because they deliver real value to their communities, according to Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, a Lagos Business School professor and visiting senior lecturer at Yale University’s School of Management (SOM).

As Yale Insights reports, Onwuegbuzie believes social entrepreneurship marks a return to a more traditional business model. “Business, initially, was created to meet the needs of a society, but capitalism derailed that understanding,” she said. “We now believe that you set up a business to make money while nonprofits, charities and government are meant to concern themselves with impacting lives. However, business can be a tool for social transformation while remaining profitable, and we’re losing sight of this.”

In fact, companies that address social issues can have a leg up on their competitors. “Being purpose-driven, mission-driven, impact-driven helps companies grow faster and make more money,” Onwuegbuzie said.

Henrietta Onwuegbuzie

She points to highly successful corporate giants like Microsoft and Amazon as examples of businesses that have impacted society in positive ways while reaping huge profits.

The for-profit vs. nonprofit/charity dichotomy “has led to a world where businesses that could transform the world don’t because they think impact will lead to below-market returns,” said Onwuegbuzie. “On the other hand, those (nonprofits) who are impact-driven are not sustainable because they remain donor-dependent and do not have a business model to ensure their financial sustainability … Impact-driven businesses, on the other hand, are aimed at impacting lives beyond financial returns. They therefore make money while making a difference and … bridge the gap between economic growth and social development by creating shared prosperity and, consequently, a better, safer world.”

Onwuegbuzie related a story about one of her students who was strictly out to make money and doubted that his company could thrive by focusing on social impact.

“We kept going back and forth about it until he finally decided to try the idea of being value- or impact-driven,” she recalled. The man’s company, based in Nigeria, sold educational toys, including dolls, all of which were white with blue eyes and blonde hair “and did not resemble black girls.”

“It therefore occurred to him that he could produce black dolls that would not only make the black girl proud of her brown skin and curly hair but would also help them learn about the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba,” Onwuegbuzie recounted.

The Queens of Africa line of black dolls, developed by Nigerian entrepreneur Taofick Okoya, is an example of a product that has social impact while generating profits and media buzz.

“The dolls were dressed in traditional attire for each tribe, and each one came in a box with a little booklet about the culture of each tribe. A portion of the revenues from the dolls was also intended to be used to promote education. (The business owner) identified a dilapidated school in a low-income neighborhood, which he decided to renovate with some of the proceeds from the doll sales. He required the companies he engaged in the renovations to hire local people in the area and train them as they did the work. This arrangement helped build skills in these places.

“By the time the project was completed, he was listed for a state government award. Both the novelty of African dolls with African names and the good works the entrepreneur was carrying out in the community drew attention to him. He has since been interviewed by every single national newspaper, in addition to globally known media like CNN, Forbes, CNBC, and BBC Africa. He told me, ‘For 10 years, I was making money, but not even the most rickety local newspaper cared to hear my voice. Today, I’ve got a global voice because of these dolls. They have brought me more money and fame than all my other toys.’”

Here in the U.S., Toms is an example of a company that delivers value through social impact as well as profits, Onwuegbuzie noted. “The fact that when you buy a pair of Toms shoes, another pair is given to the poor makes people prefer to buy Toms. The model has made the brand popular. People choose Toms shoes because they want to be a part of doing something good.”

Photo by Nnaemeka Ugochukwu

“With purpose-driven businesses, profit ensures business sustainability,” Onwuegbuzie added. “While most social enterprises tend to avoid profits, it is important to build sustainability into a business. Profit can be considered the reward for doing good. It also allows you to expand your business, which allows you to reach and impact more people while keeping your business sustainable. Impact-driven businesses help to bridge the gap between aggressive economic growth and lagging social development.”

Onwuegbuzie called for colleges and universities worldwide to rethink their approach to educating students about entrepreneurship. “I think business schools have a major role to play in transforming society by educating students and business leaders to be impact-driven,” she told Yale Insights. “They have to be imbued with the idea that business can be a tool for social transformation aimed at providing solutions to problems. This is also a competitive strategy, as the wider the impact of the solution, the more money the business makes, because the more relevant it is, the higher will be the demand for it.”

From Kalkota to Manhattan, Brown Boy Leads a Sustainable Fashion Revolution

For Prateek Kayan, a flashy, high-paying job with JP Morgan in New York was a dream come true – and a total let-down.

The future founder of Brown Boy, a Manhattan-headquartered pioneer in sustainable fashionwear, Kayan was 22 at the time, and he figured out quickly that a career in finance wasn’t for him, according to YourStory.com. “A few months into (it), I couldn’t identify with what I was doing,” he said in the interview. “I realized that, while my mind rallied behind the perks of a job that a lot of people would only dream about, my heart was inclined towards fashion.”

He eventually quit and moved back to his native Kalkota, India, where he launched Brown Boy, a clothing brand that emphasizes ethical sourcing and manufacturing, organic materials, upcycling and recycling, and a circular economy. Its gender-neutral lineup and edgy, street-style aesthetic has made the social enterprise—which now has offices in Kalkota and New York—a big hit among millennials who care about both the environment and looking spiffy. The line of hipster-friendly attire includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, muscle shirts and yoga pants.

According to IndulgeExpress.com, Kayan’s designs have made a splash in Hollywood and Bollywood alike, with Iron Man himself – Robert Downey, Jr. – spotted wearing the brand’s Woody Allen tee. “Our prints are created to push the boundaries and to be engaging,” Kayan told IndulgeExpress.com. “You’ll see that our texts are a little risqué, as they talk about issues that most people look away from, like LGBTQ rights and modern-day slavery. Our designs have a certain political sensitivity.” Brown Boy uses 100 percent certified organic cotton in its handcrafted materials and non-toxic ink and dyes to minimize its impact on the environment. It’s a Fair Trade Certified apparel brand, and since no animal products are used in the company’s supply chain, it’s PETA-approved, too.

“After seeing the broken and unethical supply chain and insatiable greed some high-street brands reflect, I believed that Brown Boy could be an agent of change,” Kayan told YourStory. To launch the company, he used Wishberry, India’s largest crowdfunding platform, and exceeded his fundraising goal by 15 percent.

As part of its social mission, Brown Boy supports child education in rural India and pays employees a living wage while funding social security and pension funds. The company actively supports LGBTQ rights and was one of the first in the world to feature a transgender model in a marketing campaign.

“We millennials are agents of change and do understand how small but positive steps can bring big impacts,” Kayan said. “Brown Boy is just a drop in that sea of change, but every drop counts. We have only one planet.”


Sidney Hall, Student With a “True Servant’s Heart,” Receives Sullivan Award at Huntingdon College

Sidney Carol Hall, a graduating senior with “a true servant’s heart,” received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Sullivan Foundation partner school Huntingdon College earlier this month.

Hall, the daughter of Angel and Rick Hall (pictured above) of Dothan, Ala., earned her degree in communication studies with a minor in art. She was a Huntingdon Hawks cheerleader, a member of the homecoming court, treasurer for the Student Government Association, and a Huntingdon College Ambassador. As a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, she served as chaplain and earned membership in honor societies Lambda Pi Eta, Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Kappa Delta. Active in campus ministries, she was the student ministry intern at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church.

Related: Sullivan Award winner Joey Jennings of Winthrop University overcame racism and poverty to earn a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation

According to a statement from Huntingdon College, Hall “has a true servant’s heart that shines through in her work with Huntingdon’s campus ministries, the Huntingdon Leadership Academy, and in her relationships with her classmates, peers, faculty and administration.”

Classmates described Hall as “someone who is loyal and humble, places the needs of others before her own, and whose daily actions are guided by her faith.”

Nobility of character is key to winning the Sullivan Award, according to the Sullivan Foundation’s requirements for the award: “We reserve the word ‘noble’ carefully for those whose greatness is not spent in their own interests … for one who goes outside the narrow circle of self-interest and begins to spend themselves for the interest of mankind.”

The recipient also should possess “fine spiritual qualities, practically applied to daily living,” such that the “spiritual standard of the institution may be judged by the character of the person to whom the award is made.”

Related: Born to Heal: Bradley Firchow earns the prestigious Sullivan Award at Oglethorpe University



Wheaton College Appoints Imran Chowdhury as Inaugural Chair in Social Entrepreneurship

A distinguished researcher and teacher whose scholarship examines issues at the intersection of business and society has been appointed to serve as the inaugural Diana Davis Spencer Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.

Imran G. Chowdhury, who is currently an associate professor of management in the Lubin School of Business at Pace University in New York, NY, will join Wheaton’s faculty this fall with the charge of integrating the college’s burgeoning social entrepreneurship programs with its liberal arts and sciences curriculum.

The appointment is made possible by an endowment established through the support of the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, the namesake of Wheaton College Trustee Emerita Diana Davis Spencer, a 1960 graduate of the institution.

Wheaton is one of the few liberal arts colleges nationwide, and the first in the Northeast, to appoint a professor for an endowed chair in social entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled that Professor Chowdhury will be leading our efforts to expand and strengthen Wheaton’s emphasis on addressing critical social issues through our programs in social entrepreneurship,” said Wheaton President Dennis M. Hanno. “His experiences in the social enterprise sector, and as a scholar, dedicated teacher and mentor to undergraduates, make him the perfect person to push forward Wheaton’s leadership in this area.”

Wheaton’s commitment to social entrepreneurship education and social innovation within the liberal arts is embedded in the institution’s 2016 strategic plan, Wheaton Means Impact: Growing Our Influence on the World. The effort builds upon the college’s historic emphasis on experiential learning as a means for helping students to connect liberal arts study to the needs and concerns of the wider world.

“This is a dream job—integrating social entrepreneurship into the study of the liberal arts and sciences,” Chowdhury said. “I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with Wheaton’s committed scholar-teachers. They share my commitment to the idea of a personalized education, wherein faculty work with students as collaborators, helping provide each of them opportunities to explore their own unique interests, and offering guidance and support as needed.”

”I’m thrilled that Wheaton is a leader in social enterprise and has been recognized as one of America’s most innovative colleges,” Spencer said. “Wheaton students are becoming more engaged leaders as they launch impactful enterprises that make the world a better place. Dr. Chowdhury will accelerate this strategic focus. As President Lincoln said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ Wheaton students are doing just that!”

At Wheaton, Chowdhury will develop course offerings on topics in social entrepreneurship, strategic management and international management that complement the college’s growing array of programs—including a semester-long bootcamp for social entrepreneurs and a dedicated center for social entrepreneurship. The coursework and programs will help students build their skills and refine ideas for social innovation ventures. He also will collaborate with faculty members in other departments to forge interdisciplinary connections that foster innovation among interested students in every discipline of the liberal arts and sciences.

Provost and Academic Vice President Renée T. White said connecting this work to the liberal arts is crucial to Wheaton’s plans for the program. “Innovations with social impact can come from every corner of the liberal arts—from the arts and humanities to the social sciences and natural sciences,” White said. “Professor Chowdhury’s capacity to work with colleagues and students across interdisciplinary boundaries will help to set our social entrepreneurship programs apart.”

Chowdhury has experience in building and expanding programs. He played a lead role in developing Pace’s M.S. in entrepreneurship program, designing model syllabi, benchmarking the university’s offerings against best-in-class graduate degrees in entrepreneurship from around the country, and teaching the first Social Entrepreneurship course within the Lubin School of Business. During his tenure at the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation at ESSEC Business School, he was responsible for a review of the institution’s social entrepreneurship program, which is recognized as a leader in the field in France.


Anita Garland, Admissions Dean and Unofficial Mayor of Hampden-Sydney College, Retires After 39 Years

Known for her colorful hats, warm spirit and a beloved dog named Bobby, Anita H. Garland, the dean of admissions and “unofficial mayor” of Hampden-Sydney College, is retiring after nearly 40 years of service, the school announced recently.

“I have treasured every moment of my time in admissions at Hampden-Sydney College, and I cherish the relationships that I have built here,” Garland said. “They have enriched my life beyond measure.”

“Perhaps more than any other individual in the last 50 years, Anita Garland has shaped the story of Hampden-Sydney College,” said President Larry Stimpert. “She has touched the lives of nearly every student to enter these gates during her years of service and even many of their parents. We will forever admire the enthusiasm she brought to her work, her eloquence in sharing the College’s story, and the personalized touch with which she has introduced so many young men to the distinctive greatness of Hampden-Sydney. Many a student has shared with me the impact that a handwritten note from Anita had on his decision to attend this College.”

Dean Garland and her dog, Bobby

Hired by President Josiah Bunting III in 1980, Garland served as associate dean of admissions and director of admissions until President Samuel V. Wilson named her dean of admissions in 1996 following a national search. In addition to a B.A. from Westhampton College, Garland holds an M.B.A. from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business.

“I recall many changes during my time—from Stokeley Fulton’s sitting on a bucket as he watched his team on the baseball field, to the wonderful Ty Cobb Ballpark,” Garland said. “From the food fights in Winston Hall to the spacious Pannill Commons. From a student center in Graham Hall to the lovely Brown Student Center. From typewriters to computers; from paper documents to digital ones; from a central switchboard to cell phones. But the students have always stayed the same—perhaps with different toys (from low tech to high tech)—but always with politeness, earnestness, and an eagerness to please.”

During her 39 years at Hampden-Sydney, 23 of them as dean of admissions, Garland has built the combined admissions and financial aid team into a modern operation comprised of 16 full-time staff members. She also has hired and trained 67 alumni, nearly all for their first jobs. She has worked with nine presidents and hundreds of trustees, and she has recruited 75 percent of living Hampden-Sydney alumni—including many sons of men she’d recruited years before.

“I am proud that we have run a high-quality, personalized, and honest program, which was all about making the student feel special and wanted by the College,” Garland said.

Garland has long been considered the unofficial mayor of Hampden-Sydney, often assembling members of the community for traditions such as a New Year’s Eve countdown at the college’s bell tower. She has also been Hampden-Sydney’s consummate cheerleader, signing many an email, “GO, TIGERS!”

“Anita’s impact on this college endures in the men across the nation and world who live out our founding mission of forming good men and good citizens, in addition to the talented and devoted team she has built in admissions and financial aid,” Stimpert said. “We are grateful for her dedication to and love for Hampden-Sydney, and we wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life.”

“I love the entire constituency at the College, but most especially our students,” Garland said. “I continue to be charmed and even disarmed by them, by their humor, by their energy, by their love of the college, and of their place in it. And, of course, their parents who have put their faith in Hampden-Sydney for their sons’ future.”

This article is a modified version of the original story published on the Hampden-Sydney website.

Shenandoah University Honors Two Students and a Professor With Sullivan Awards

Shenandoah University (SU) recently presented this year’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards to seniors Regine Bumper and Micah Earnhardt and Assistant Professor of Religion Meredith Minister.

Bumper and Earnhardt were honored at the College of Arts & Sciences Honors Ceremony in the Brandt Student Center on Friday, May 17. Minister received her award at the faculty meeting held on Friday, May 24, in Halpin-Harrison Hall’s Stimpson Auditorium.

Each year the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards are presented at 70 colleges and universities across the American South. First awarded in 1890, the award goes to individuals who are committed to creating positive change.

Regine Bumper

In addition to winning the Sullivan Award, Bumper is also a Sullivan Scholarship student. She received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Shenandoah. In her time at SU, she participated in “The Laramie Project,” “The Vagina Monologues” and 411 plays for incoming freshmen and transfer students that discussed consent, alcohol usage, conflict management and more. She served a leadership role at the [Not Just] Women’s Center and as president of the Black Student Union. She also served on the BeYOUtiful campaign panel and in the Faith Seeking Justice Christian Leadership Certificate Program. She was an Alpha Lambda Delta and an Omicron Delta Kappa inductee. As a member of the volleyball team and a First-Year Seminar mentor, she had a positive impact on students in both the classroom and on the court.

Bumper has received the Department of Exercise Science Student Leadership Award and the Timothy Doak Mentor Leadership Award. She has participated in many service-learning trips, including those in Haiti, Rwanda and Uganda, where she not only helped others feel at ease, but also demonstrated leadership, generosity and optimism. “She jumps into opportunities to grow,” said an SU professor who nominated Bumper for the Sullivan Award. “She has the courage to put herself in uncomfortable situations and helps others to do the same.”

Micah Earnhardt

Earnhardt received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and minored in gender and women’s studies at SU. One staff member said Micah’s greatest gift to the community is their personal strength. Micah was involved in Spiritual Life’s University Chapel at Noon and led through acting, reading scripture, facilitating and voicing of community prayer, and serving communion. Micah could often be found working in the Mosaic Center for Diversity as the student director and a mentor to 20 student employees in the office.

Micah excels at assisting others in understanding difficult concepts, one professor said. “Even more impressive, Micah managed to do this with grace and humility rather than a sense of superiority toward those who were learning for the first time about issues Micah had grappled with all their life.”

Minister is an assistant professor of religion who educates and inspires her students both in the classroom and beyond. It is through her supportive, motivational and caring nature that Minister encourages her students to reach their full potential. She goes out of her way to ensure that her students are successful and is always willing to meet with them when they are in need.

“Dr. Minister calls for us to open our minds to new perspectives on issues such as death, sex, gender, religion and life, and she shows us that a change of heart is not always a quick process,” one of Minister’s students said.

Ferrum College Professor Appointed to Episcopal Church Task Force on Environmental Issues

Dr. Delia Heck, an associate professor of environmental science at Sullivan Foundation partner school Ferrum College, has been appointed to the Episcopal Church Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism.

The role of the task force is to recommend appropriate changes in federal, state or local law so that effective judicial remedies can be obtained to address governmental decisions with respect to land use, industrial, energy and transportation development, and application of environmental standards. The task force will accomplish this goal by studying disproportionate health or environmental impact on those living closest to the land in subsistence cultures, ethnic minorities or poor communities.

The group is made up of approximately twenty people from across the Episcopal Church, which comprises the U.S., Taiwan, Haiti, Ecuador, Micronesia, Honduras, Columbia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

“This appointment allows Ferrum College to have a front row seat in discussions about how our faith calls us to respond to issues of environmental justice and creation care in the political, social and economic arenas at the local and national levels,” Dr. Heck said. “It demonstrates to our students that the journey begun with their Ferrum College education is not limited by our geography or size.  Rather, their passions and drive, combined with the opportunities and experiences provided here, empower them to achieve their life’s dreams.”

This appointment follows Dr. Heck’s five trips to Haiti, the first taking place in June 2017, where she assessed the energy, economic and social justice needs of the country.

About the photograph: Dr. Heck meets with members of St. Simon St. Jude in Duny, Haiti, about their need for solar energy and how they might use the energy if a solar energy system was to be installed at the school.  She was there with members of their videography team as well as members of the Haitian non-profit Voices & Actions, which works to help women in a neighboring village by raising chickens, goats, pigs, and tilapia to sell at wholesale price in order for the women to sell the livestock in the market at retail price. The difference in the prices allows them to earn money to support their families by paying for school fees, food, clothing, etc.

Lees-McRae College Art Students Brighten Children’s Home With Colorful Murals

Student artists at Sullivan partner school Lees-McRae College (LMC) recently designed and painted seven murals to brighten up the Grandfather Home for Children in Barium Springs, N.C.

The project was part of the school’s first-ever mural-focused course led by Angelia Wilson, an assistant professor of communications art and design at LMC. The students painted the murals in buildings on the Grandfather Home for Children campus. The Grandfather Home is operated by the Children’s Hope Alliance, a nonprofit that serves the needs of hurting children and families in the region.

First approached by Grandfather Home for Children Principal Matthew Gaunt in 2018, Wilson said she wanted to bring a mural course to Lees-McRae to not only teach students the techniques needed, but also to give back to the community.

“When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it immediately,” she said.

The seven murals—found in the hallways of the home’s gymnasium—depict everything from Volkswagen buses and rainbows inspired by 1970s disco to views of mountains and rivers featuring classic cartoon characters like Bambi and Pepe Le Pew. All of the paintings were original designs conceptualized by the students in the course.

During the approximate 50 hours of work, students gathered in groups of two or three to complete the murals in time for the end of the semester. Many portions of the works of art, reaching the hallway’s ceiling, had to be painted atop a ladder. One mural, painted in the gymnasium itself, was completed with the help of scaffolding.

Wilson and the students said they hope the murals will bring some color and fun into the lives of the children living at the Grandfather Home for Children.

“There are so many ways to give back to the community,” Wilson said, “but as an artist, this is the perfect way to give back—you are allowing them to have something that you enjoyed doing.”

“After so much work it feels really good to see it done and pulled together,” said Shelby Kukowinski, a senior Wildlife Biology major and Communication Arts and Design minor. “Hopefully our art can be influential on the [children here at Grandfather Home for Children] and make their days here a little better. The entire experience was extremely rewarding.”

Not only was the course an opportunity for the students to give back to the community through their art, but it was a chance to practice a skill they may had not otherwise had the opportunity to explore.

Elena Schusterick, a freshman English major and Communication Arts and Design minor, said that at first, the project was overwhelming—she had never painted a mural before.

“I didn’t realize the space [we were going to paint] was so big, and the wall was so much taller than I thought it was going to be,” she said. “But this has changed me as an artist. I’ve learned how to work with other people and was amazed at how quickly you can run out of paint!”

Over the summer leading into the fall semester, Wilson will prepare for the murals to be completed by students in the nearby town of Elk Park.

King University Honors Student, Local Couple With Sullivan Awards

Sullivan Foundation partner school King University, located in Bristol, Tenn., honored a graduating student and a local couple for their high standards of character, integrity and service by presenting them with the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award during the school’s spring Commencement ceremony.

Darrell D. Smith, who earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree Saturday, and community advocates Karen and John Vann were recognized with the prestigious honor named for the 19th-century lawyer, businessman, and philanthropist. The award recognizes those who “reach out both hands in constant helpfulness to others.”

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force Security Forces, Smith provided counseling and crisis intervention to survivors of domestic violence, neglect and other forms of abuse. Now retired from the military, he has been an active volunteer for the Children’s Advocacy Center, CARIS Healthcare, and Court Appointed Special Advocates while pursuing his degree. On campus, he has served as president of the Social Work Action Group and a member of the social work honor society. He also completed a 400-hour internship with the Veterans Affairs Hospital at Mountain Home, where he worked to provide care and comfort to veterans of our armed forces.

The Vanns are active members of First Presbyterian Church of Bristol, where they are engaged in the church’s mission outreach to Brazil. Additionally, Karen worked as Christian Educator from 1998 to 2006 and continues to serve the church by co-teaching 5th and 6th grade Sunday School. She also serves on the Evangelism and Outreach Committee. John serves as a church elder.

Elsewhere in the community, Karen volunteers her time with Bristol Faith in Action and the YWCA Board of Directors. She also has been a Reading Buddy at Fairmount Elementary School since the program’s inception and is an active member of the Blue Stocking Club, Bristol’s oldest women’s service organization. A 1998 graduate of King, she was appointed to the university’s Board of Trustees last year.

John is a graduate of Wake Forest University and was a co-founder and CEO of Clinical Trial Management Services where, upon its merger with Chiltern International, he served both as Executive Vice President of the Americas and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development. John is now affiliated with The Summit Companies as a Business Advisor to businesses and non-profits. A trustee of Wake Forest University, he also serves as president of the Rotary Club of Bristol, VA/TN and is on the boards of the United Way of Bristol, Citizens Bank, Javara Incorporated, Minds Renewed, Partners for Paraguay, Barter Theatre Foundation, and the King Institute for Faith and Culture Advisory Board.

King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctoral degrees. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports.

Art Project Featuring Old Bike Wheels Gives New Meaning to the Art of “Recycling”

A social enterprise in New Haven, Conn. has turned old bicycle wheels into stunning works of art, thanks to the talents of local artisans with developmental and physical disabilities.

East Street Arts, a social entrepreneurial arm of Marrakech, Inc., developed the project as a way to create a paid art opportunity for its artisans while supporting and promoting a circular economy. Eighteen artists and 19 community members worked together to create a wall-length fiber sculpture made of donated yarn, rattan, discarded chair cane webbing, and more than 30 reclaimed bicycle wheels.

The project was funded by a matching grant for $4,000 from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Once the funding had been matched, all of the artists were compensated for their work on the sculpture.

Joseph and Ellen (last names withheld) were two of the artisans who helped create the sculpture.

The artisans wove colorful fabrics and materials through the spokes and frames of the bicycle wheels, creating a visual symphony of bright colors and textures. According to the Arts Council for Greater New Haven, the project “lent a whole new meaning to the art of ‘re-cycling.’”

“On one wheel, tight navy-blue yarn yanks the viewer in, delighting the eye as it pans out to splashes of sky-blue, turquoise and aquamarine,” an article on the Arts Council’s website explains. “On another, a fuzzy rainbow of color winks out, soft and light to the touch. On yet another, it’s a surprise to find wood, rattan and raffia woven into a tan-colored tire.”

East Street Arts often receives large amounts of donated yarn from locals who tried their hand at knitting but gave up. The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op and the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop donated the bicycle wheels. Putting these discarded fabrics and wheels to good use reduces waste in landfills while showcasing the talents and work ethic of people who face barriers to securing employment, a key focus of Marrakech, Inc., located in Woodbridge, Conn.

The sculpture, located outside the East Street Arts building, was unveiled earlier this month in a public gathering attended by about 100 people, according to the New Haven Register.

According to the East Street Arts website, the organization is “dedicated to fostering the creation of art through artisan training programs, workshops and community interactions for persons of all abilities. East Street Arts was an idea that came directly from the individuals Marrakech supports. They wanted something different than what the traditional employment programs were offering. They wanted to do the thing they loved—art—and earn money for doing it.”

“We say all abilities,” noted Eric Ginnish, East Street Arts’ director of creative development. “The main goal is getting these artists some sort of income, and it was great seeing them work on the weaving.”