Campbell student and Ignite retreat attendee sparks innovation on campus
Diane Ford, a 2017 graduate of Campbell University, attended her first Ignite retreat in 2015. It was truly a transformational experience for her.
“I really enjoyed my time there,” she says. “They really gave me the tools that I needed to start the project. I was able to find out what the focus of my passion is. And my passion is people—I really like watching other people achieve their dreams.”
Upon her return to campus, Ford was anxious to find an outlet for that newly identified passion. As president of Campbell’s Social Entrepreneurship Club, she had an obvious platform to use. What she needed was a specific idea, a way to help her fellow students realize their goals. That was where the SOUP—a concept she learned about from the club’s faculty sponsor Dan Maynard (who was a Sullivan Faculty Fellow in 2015-2016)—came in.
“I brought the Detroit SOUP crowdfunding project to our campus,” says Ford. “With the help of my friends and my club members, we were able to start a micro-granting pitch competition and then incorporate it into the community.”
The SOUP concept was built to serve an urban area where high poverty rates call for creative, outside-the-box solutions. Though Buies Creek and greater Harnett County, North Carolina, where Campbell is located, look very different from Detroit on the surface, Ford saw the same need for innovation all around her.
Using the Detroit model, the Social Entrepreneurship Club planned their own SOUP, on the Campbell campus, for November 2016. Hot soup was served up to feed the crowd, creative ideas were pitched from the stage, and helpful critiques were offered by all. The event was a great success, and participants—whether they won the grant or not—got a lot out of the experience.
Victoria Robinson pitched a life coaching business at the inaugural SOUP, one that continues to grow today.
“With SOUP, I was able to participate as a competitor and share the business that I wanted to initiate within the community,” says Robinson. “I also did some amazing networking with business owners—individuals that can help you start your business and give you information on how to partner with other agencies in the community.”
Fellow student Justin Holmes agrees. His idea was one that affected the people right around him—his peers on campus. He pitched a ride service on campus that caters specifically to students that don’t own cars.
“The environment was so friendly,” says Holmes. “It wasn’t necessarily like you were in a competition. It was more like you were in a think tank and you were giving your thoughts to help the people around you. People were open to receive that kind of information. It wasn’t critical at all. The soup was good, and the vibes were right.
A second SOUP, even more well-received, took place in April 2017, just before Ford’s graduation. She handed off the program to the incoming club president, and it has continued under the new leadership. Ford is applying to law school, and has lots of future projects in mind—results of a passion she discovered at that first retreat in 2015.
“I just want to say thanks to the whole team at Sullivan for giving me the tools that I needed to go out, do good, and become a changemaker,” she says.