Elon University Student’s Clothing Brand Combines Positive Message With Entrepreneurship

Faced with all the challenges and frustrations of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew Veilleux, a business analytics and finance double major at Sullivan Foundation partner school Elon University, needed something to do with his free time, so he decided to start a company.

Now, his student-owned clothing brand, Good to See You, has merchandise for sale online and in five stores across 11 locations.

Related: This sustainable restaurant will top its pizzas with rejected veggies to combat food waste

Veilleux, a senior, says the message and the company grew out of the social isolation so many have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The phrase, ‘It’s good to see you,’ means so much right now,” Veilleux said. “I love saying it! It’s a powerful message, especially because I enjoy seeing people back on campus. The words ‘good to see you” carry more meaning in a world that has been distant for so long.”

Good to See You founder Andrew Veilleux

The decision to launch the company began with extensive research to learn what it would take to sell the “good to see you” message. With the desire to share the message on a shirt, Andrew and his two roommates, Stephen Hawthorne and Sean Hess, dug in. They recruited a design major to create the first draft of the “good to see you” logo.

Developing the business allowed Veilleux to draw on his collective academic knowledge and classroom experiences to pitch merchandise to supply chains and build a website. But he and his roommates also gave much credit to the resources available on campus and the surrounding community.

They received guidance from Elon’s Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship to choose sales and marketing platforms, understand business costs, and make informed business decisions. The Student Government Association’s Acorn Fund provided financial support based on the company’s potential for positive impact beyond the classroom. They borrowed equipment from Elon’s Media Services Department to create their first promotional video.

Related: Leading CEOs propose roadmap to building a purpose-first economy

Additionally, they sought guidance from the Elon University Law School and worked with two Elon law students who shared legal advice and filed for the “good to see you” trademark. The legal service, offered for free to Elon students, helped them understand tax obligations, whether to form a limited liability corporation, how to gain capital, and work together to sell merchandise.

Through a network of friends and professionals, Veilleux said he now understands the importance of building capital and integrating merchandising with the supply chain in an agile, digital way. He plans to focus much of his time on getting “good to see you” merchandise for sale in a couple of stores up north.

Good to See You merchandise can be found online and in The Oak HouseMy Secret Closet, The Fountain Market in Clohan Hall, and BoHo Blu.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the Elon University website.

Five Leadership Lessons for My Younger Self

By Jeff McManus, University of Mississippi

Sometimes I think about what I’d like to tell the 25-year-old version of myself about leadership in the workplace. At that time, I felt like I knew a lot. Since then, I’ve learned many important lessons about some things I never would have imagined even mattered. This is something I bet many readers can relate to.

In 2013, I initiated the creation of Landscape University and Airport University at my organization, the University of Mississippi. Both of these programs are a series of classes instituted and created by staff to understand their role on campus to “cultivate greatness” in all they do each day.

The program curriculum covers introductory materials, professional responsibility, safety training, advanced classes and people skills. The goal is to develop a highly confident, motivated team that is empowered with the sense of excellence.

Related: Ole Miss student and Sullivan Award winner Neely Griggs keeps tails wagging for pet rescue organization

We have found that this program works well in not only landscape, airport and golf services, but in many other industries. Over the years, companies in the real estate and moving businesses have joined us and used the ideas behind our training programs to create their own.

After having worked for decades, most recently in my current role as director of landscape, airport and golf at the UM Department of Landscape Services, there are five things I definitely would have taught my younger self and that I strive to pass on to younger generations through programs such as Landscape University.

Jeff McManus helped UM become known as one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

1. Think like an investor. “Buy-in” is important in any job. Writer and motivational speaker Robin S. Sharma says, “A leadership culture is one where everyone thinks like an owner, a CEO or a managing director. It’s one where everyone is entrepreneurial and proactive.”

Look at your work like it is something you have a stake in already, even if you are working in an entry-level position. You should view it like you’re the CEO. This will hone your focus onto the success of your organization, which should be in the forefront of your mind each day. You will be proactive and find yourself striving each day to make sure business is being taken care of. If the company or organization prospers, so do its employees.

2. Goals should be clear at all times. As a staff, define your core values and what you strive for. These goals should not be small ones. Strive for big things every day. Once these goals are reached, go for even bigger things.

Write objectives down and post them. The better you get at practicing them, the better the organization becomes. One benchmark worth adopting is trying “to be the best of the best.” Paint a verbal picture of what that means. This makes it tangible.

Your goals should be catchy, brief and easy to recite. Like a well-written sentence, you should be able to say a goal aloud without having to pause and take a breath in the middle of it. Using fewer words in the declarations makes them easier to remember. It needs to be something everyone can relate to, remember and repeat.

Once vision statements are defined, they should be ubiquitous. Display them everywhere throughout the workplace so the reminder of why you’re there is always visible to staff and top-of-mind.

3. Accept that you will fail. When I was just out of college, I managed a resort in Orlando, Florida. I felt the need to increase the size of the landscape crew by 35% and to hire managers to provide more leadership. It began to break the budget. I found we needed to raise the rates we were charging our customers, but there was pushback. Long story short, we went through gut-wrenching layoffs. I had to tell people I cared deeply about that they couldn’t come to work with us anymore.

I received hate mail. I felt so low. Team morale was bad. But I turned to the lessons of Zig Ziglar, who said, “You can have everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

The key is to learn from your mistakes. I did. I began to pay more attention to my team. I started providing better training sessions that gave them a sense of purpose. I instilled in them a sense of pride. In time, our team won several state awards and a national award.

Related: Professors at The Citadel are developing courses to help students address UN sustainable development goals

McManus works at Arlington National Cemetery as part of the annual ‘Renewal and Remembrance’ observance.

4. Be real, be approachable and listen. Many times, leaders assume their employees know what they’re thinking about, or employees assume bosses understand or are aware of an issue they’re having.

Each week, my team gets together to talk about our standards and where we’re going. This environment inspires employees to be the best and turns them into leaders who will eventually head up the meetings and train and develop others.

I’ve also always believed in keeping my organization as flat as possible to increase communication. What do I mean? I want direct access to everyone. I want them to have that same access to me. I’m out among the teams as they work each day.

Cultivate an environment where your workers can be honest and real with you. Push for that dialogue to permeate the entire team. You will find more problems will get addressed and, ultimately, better work (and more of it) will get done.

5. Show you care. Mediocre leaders underestimate the value of respecting people with whom they work. It is simple to stop what you’re doing, smile and acknowledge people as you encounter them, yet it means so much to your colleagues. It seems simple to think your employees should know that you value them, but it’s something bosses often overlook. I think we’ve probably all worked for a supervisor we thought didn’t care about us or didn’t care about our professional growth. Maybe they didn’t seem interested in whether we found our work rewarding.

Get to know each person when they start working for you. Give them a tour of your workplace in a golf cart or vehicle if you have the option. This creates a low-pressure situation that makes it easier for them to talk. Even the shyer employees seem comfortable with this interaction because they don’t even have to make eye contact.

I’ve also found that simple things such as short breakroom chats at the end of the day make a big difference in letting the people you work with understand that you care about them.

But there will be some difficult interactions. Toxic workplaces can be caused in part by a leader who doesn’t care enough to address a difficult situation. For whatever reason, some employees sometimes consistently get away with bad behavior. When a leader doesn’t address this bad behavior, the other workers become frustrated and morale drops. Those bosses who care about their employees make workplace morale a priority.

Related: Is your used pizza box recyclable? Here’s how to find out.

Find Hidden Leaders, Help Them Grow
Sometimes leaders are born; sometimes they are grown. It’s a leader’s duty to help both kinds of people be the best they can be. As part of the process of showing employees you care, you will ultimately get to know them well. The more you interact with someone, the more you can pick up on hidden characteristics of their personality. Sometimes, what bubbles to the surface during these talks can be characteristics of leadership.

Don’t fall into the trap of confusing cheerleaders and real leaders. Listen to those who dissent sometimes or express frustration with their work. You must remember that it takes leadership to speak up.

Jeff McManus’ latest book

Once you become a leader and you’re shaping your organization, those who say they had been ready to quit but wanted to see if things changed with new leadership can be important voices. Some are potential leaders. These staff members can be key to cultivating a new, dynamic culture.

Once you’ve identified leaders, it is important that you do not hesitate to help them grow. Mediocre leaders worry about the success of someone on their team threatening their own career. This flawed way of thinking causes leaders to insulate themselves and try to do everything alone, causing them to become burned out and to lose their workers’ trust.

Spread opportunities to those who possess leadership traits. Rejoice with others when they find their own workplace wins. Be mindful that you probably got ahead in part because someone else helped you without being threatened by your successes.

Give growing leaders access to professional development and training. Have them share the lessons they pick up with others as much as possible. Take these lessons and create a culture of professional growth in your organization.

Have these standouts lead employee training sessions. Let them mentor new workers. Encourage them to spread their knowledge to others just as you shared yours with them.

Jeff McManus has been director of landscape services at the University of Mississippi since 2000. He and his team have gained national recognition, winning the National Professional Grounds Maintenance Society Best Maintained Campus twice and named most beautiful campus by Newsweek in 2011, the Princeton Review in 2013 and USA Today in 2016. His latest book, “Growing Weeders into Leaders – Leadership Lessons from the Ground Level,” focuses on cultivating excellence among staff.

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the University of Mississippi website.

This Sustainable Restaurant Will Top Its Pizzas With Rejected Veggies to Combat Food Waste

A soon-to-open pizza shop in San Francisco has food waste on the menu—and on top of all of its pies.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Shuggie’s Trash Pie & Natural Wine will offer wood-fired neo-Neapolitan-style pizzas and grandma pizzas featuring ingredients and toppings that ordinarily end up in a dumpster—and, ultimately, a landfill.

Scheduled to open in Spring 2021, Shuggie’s will buy produce that local farms would otherwise toss out as well as discarded bits and pieces of ingredients, such as cauliflower greens and snap pea ends. According to the Chronicle, Shuggie’s ricotta is made from a local farmer’s excess milk, and okara flour, which is a byproduct of tofu, will be used in their pizza dough. They will also use blemished but perfectly tasty food-waste tomatoes in their pizza sauce.

Shuggie’s pizzas will be paired with natural wines, which are typically made from grapes that have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. The grapes are handpicked instead of harvested with machines, and no additives, such as fake oak flavor, sugar or acid, are used in the winemaking process.

this photo shows Kayla Abe and David Murphy, founders of a sustainable restaurant using food waste as its main ingredients

Kayla Abe and David Murphy are committed to sustainable practices in their new restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Ugly Pickle Co.)

Shuggie’s cofounders, Kayla Abe and David Murphy, also own Ugly Pickle Co. in San Francisco. Ugly Pickle uses “cosmetically challenged” produce to make private-labeled condiments like Bread N’ Buttah and Spicy Bread ‘N Buttah sandwich spreads as well as Carrot Top Chimi, Hawt Fry Ketchup, Dilly Carrots and Roasted Root Hummus. As the company’s name suggests, Ugly Pickle also offers Burger Party Dills, described as “that onion-y, stinky dill everyone seems to adore.”

Their produce “doesn’t sparkle like grocery store produce, and it probably isn’t sexy enough for your next Instagram post,” Ugly Pickle’s website explains. “What it is, though, is the three-legged carrot, the overgrown squash, the curved cucumber. Slightly misshapen, cosmetically blemished—perfectly edible, but imperfect enough to pass over.” All of these foods would most likely get tossed by farmers since they would be unappealing to consumers.

Abe and Murphy met at San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and that’s where their Ugly Pickle products are currently sold. They have also hosted food-waste pop-ups around the city.

In Ugly Pickle’s first year, the company diverted 20,000 pounds of “unloved produce” from the country’s waste stream, according to a Kickstarter page for Shuggie’s.

this photo shows a variety of colorful dishes, made with food waste and surplus vegetables, to be offered at Shuggie's Trash Pies and Natural Wine in San Francisco.

Shuggie’s will offer a wide variety of pizzas and other dishes made with food that would otherwise go to waste in landfills. (Photo courtesy of Shuggie’s Trash Pies and Natural Wine)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says about 30 percent to 40 percent of the country’s food supply goes to waste. That’s food that could have gone to feed families in need. It’s also a bad use of land, water, labor and energy, the USDA notes. In 2015, the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined together to set a goal to reduce the country’s food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

“We want to make it easy for people to take climate action through their food,” Abe told the Chronicle. “And we can do that by making it affordable and fun and really friggin’ tasty.”

This story has been edited from the original version featured on PMQ Pizza Magazine’s website and reposted with permission.

Professors at The Citadel Developing Courses to Help Students Address UN Sustainable Development Goals

By Maria Aselage, The Citadel

Poverty, inequality and climate change are some of the many challenges we face in our world today. To help find solutions to these important issues, two professors at Sullivan Foundation partner school The Citadel—one from the School of Business and one from the School of Engineering—are collaborating on new courses to be offered next fall.

The classes will address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), guidelines for all countries to create a more sustainable future for the planet.

Related: Sullivan Foundation to host Social Entrepreneurship Opportunity Fair Nov. 16

The new cooperative initiative is called Bridging Undergraduate Innovation Laboratories to Design for Sustainability (BUILDS). To help fund the program, VentureWell awarded a $30,000 grant to Dr. James Bezjian, a professor of entrepreneurship, and Dr. Jeffery Plumblee, a professor of engineer leadership and program management. VentureWell’s grant program helps institutions across the country develop or sustain courses and programs that encourage STEM innovation.

Bezjian and Plumblee will use the money to collaborate on a series of project-based classes. The students will explore global challenges within the framework of the UNSDG, the professors said.

“They will work in groups to identify a challenge that they would like to address, develop viable solutions to their chosen challenge and prepare to take next steps at the culmination of the courses,” said Plumblee.

Related: Cadets from The Citadel provide food to hundreds of veterans in Charleston, S.C.

These courses will utilize The Citadel’s Innovation Lab and its Humanitarian Development Lab.

“In addition to addressing these important goals, our collaboration will teach business students more about technology development and engineering students more about innovation and business,” Bezjian said. “It’s a holistic approach to learning that will benefit Citadel students as well as assist the greater community.”

This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on The Citadel’s website.

Fast-Growing Restaurant Chain Commits to Hiring More Employees with Differing Abilities

MOD Pizza, one of the country’s fastest-growing restaurant chains, has pledged to hire more differently abled employees—including those with autism and intellectual or physical disabilities—by 2025 as part of a larger nationwide effort to foster inclusive and diverse workplaces.

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, MOD Pizza joined the Delivering Jobs pledge, an inclusion campaign spearheaded by Autism Speaks, Best Buddies and Special Olympics in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation. MOD, a national pizza brand with a loyal millennial following, will join a coalition of companies that have committed to creating a total of 1 million new employment and leadership opportunities for people with autism and intellectual and developmental differences (IDD) over the next five years.

Eighty-one percent of adults with IDD do not have a paid job in their community. The Delivering Jobs initiative aims to help them develop the skills they need for employment and leadership positions while incentivizing businesses to hire them.

As a purpose-led restaurant brand, MOD Pizza practices what cofounder Scott Svenson terms “a more enlightened form of capitalism” that drives profits while creating a positive social impact. The company was the country’s fastest-growing restaurant chain in 2018 and 2019.

As PMQ Pizza Magazine reports, MOD Pizza focuses on impact hiring and an inclusive culture, creating jobs for people who ordinarily struggle to find employment. MOD has found success through building its MOD Squad workforce to include people with IDD, opportunity youth (young people aged 16-24 who are neither enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market), and those who have been previously incarcerated.

MOD currently has more than 300 Squad members with IDD, and a few of them helped to create this inspiring video, titled “Our World,” last year.

Our World from MOD Pizza on Vimeo.

“MOD exists to serve people in order to contribute to a world that works for and includes everyone,” said Ally Svenson, co-founder and chief purpose officer of MOD Pizza, in a statement about the Delivering Jobs program. “This pledge not only aligns with our mission to build an inclusive workplace and a culture of opportunity, but hopefully will also encourage other companies across the retail and restaurant industry to do the same.”

Angela Geiger, president and CEO of Autism Speaks, said hiring differently abled people can make a difference at any company. “We’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of inclusive employment on businesses of all sizes,” she said. “Through [the Delivering Jobs campaign], we hope to facilitate and normalize recruitment and management practices, providing the resources for these workers to thrive.”

Delivering Jobs is challenging all businesses to identify ways they can incorporate this untapped workforce into their diversity and inclusion plans; ensure that they have access to a minimum of 1% of employment and leadership opportunities; and empower HR personnel to invest in the long-term success of all employees.  Learn more at www.deliveringjobs.org.

 

Kaveh Sadeghian Explores Principles of Design Thinking in Upcoming Ignite Masterclass Oct. 15

Biases and bad habits often get in the way of innovation and positive change. In the Sullivan Foundation’s next Ignite Masterclass, Kaveh Sadeghian of the Center for Social Impact Strategy will delve into the core principles of design thinking, a process for solving problems in a creative, human-centered way.

Ignite Masterclass facilitator Spud Marshall will host Sadeghian in two sessions titled Design Thinking for Personal Growth + Social Innovation, both presented on Thursday, October 15. The first session takes place from 9:30-10:45 a.m. (ET), followed immediately by the second session from 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (ET).  All Ignite Masterclasses are free. You can register for the first session here and for the second session here.

Click here to learn more about Sullivan’s Ignite Masterclass series and upcoming sessions.

a photo of Kaveh Sadeghian

Kaveh Sadeghian

Sadeghian will introduce participants to the core principles of design thinking, creativity and social innovation. The session will explore why meaningful work is so hard to come by and how you can use design thinking methodology to identify and ultimately create opportunities that exist at the powerful point of intersection between your identity, values and the problems that weigh most heavily on your community.

Students in classes taught by faculty members from seven colleges and universities will also participate in this Ignite Masterclass session. The faculty members include Montressa Washington, Ph.D., of Shenandoah University; Melissa Nelson of Rollins College; Bruce Dorries, Ph.D., of Mary Baldwin University; Susan Conradsen, Ph.D., of Berry College; Melanie Bullock Harris of Elon University; Linda Feltman of Penn State University; and Valeri Werpetinski of the University of Illinois.

In the September-October 2018 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Jeanne Liedtka, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, described design thinking as a “social technology” that “has the potential to do for innovation exactly what [Total Quality Management] did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment and radically improve processes.”

“By now most executives have at least heard about design thinking’s tools—ethnographic research, an emphasis on reframing problems and experimentation, the use of diverse teams, and so on—if not tried them,” Liedtka wrote. “But what people may not understand is the subtler way that design thinking gets around the human biases (for example, rootedness in the staus quo) or attachments to specific behaviorial norms (‘That’s how we do things here’) that time and again block the exercise of imagination.”

Sadeghian is the creative director and founding member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Social Impact Strategy and a faculty member for the Executive Program in Social Innovation Design. He designs and facilitates leadership development programs, leveraging leading practices in organizational psychology and design thinking to help impact leaders work more effectively and compassionately.

Sadeghian also consults for high-impact organizations and speaks at purpose-driven conferences, designing and leading interactive workshops that increase clarity, confidence and community. He has trained more than 4,000 impact leaders, and the online programs he helped design have reached more than 90,000 learners to date. Prior to co-founding the Center, Sadeghian was a change manager for Ashoka, where he managed the development, launch and expansion of a nationwide high school social entrepreneurial incubator program.

Throughout Fall 2020, the Sullivan Foundation will host weekly Ignite Masterclass workshops and networking sessions taught by social innovation leaders from around the U.S. Each class features an expert mini-lecture on a specific social innovation, followed by a chance to network with peers, Sullivan coaches and other social innovators. All sessions are designed for college students and faculty alike and are free to the public.

World Economic Forum: Social Entrepreneurs Essential to ‘Great Reset’ of Global Economy

Social entrepreneurs are “at the front line for the protection of socioeconomic well-being,” according to the World Economic Forum (WF), and will play a key role in what the WEF calls The Great Reset, an initiative aimed at revamping and revitalizing the global economy and creating a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.

In an article on the WEF site earlier this year, Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, wrote that the world “must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

Related: Leading CEOs propose roadmap to building a purpose-first economy

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, global goals to reduce poverty and curb climate change have been stymied or even gone backwards, according to a Sept. 23 article on the WEF site by Janet Longmore of Digital Opportunity Trust, Jonathan Jackson of Dimagi, Carolien de Bruin of the WEF and Amy Goldman of the GHR Foundation. “Even before the global pandemic, few countries were even close to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by the target date of 2030, with the Social Progress Index estimating last year that this date had been pushed back to 2073,” the article states.

The pandemic is making things worse—and making social change harder. The World Bank has projected that the global economy will shrink by 5-8 percent and that more than 100 million people are at immediate risk of slipping into poverty.

this photo shows an impoverished child in Nicaragua and illustrates the need for the Great Reset of global socioeconomics

The pandemic has slowed down progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. (Photo by Ben Richardson on Unsplash)

Social entrepreneurs can help “bridge the gap between public and private interests and institutions,” which is essential to the success of the Great Reset, wrote Longmore, Jackson, de Bruin and Goldman. “Social entrepreneurs serve as a crucial social safety net for the systemic weaknesses, inequalities and market failures that are now apparent. In recent months they have repeatedly demonstrated that, as first responders in this crisis, they have been able to adapt at speed and share their knowledge and assets where they are needed most.”

Related: Leading angel investment group creates affiliate group for members of the Sullivan Foundation network

People in vulnerable communities often trust social entrepreneurs to bring about real change, they wrote. “Top-down ecosystem players must recognize the role of these front-line leaders and empower and align resources to reinvigorate progress towards the goals of economic inclusion, health, education and social cohesion.”

The article points to initiatives like Catalyst 2030—an international consortium of NGOs, social enterprises, funders and other social-change innovators—that are doing critical work in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. The COVID-19 Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs, representing more than 50,000 social enterprises around the world, has also committed to supporting the Great Reset.

“To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the those considered powerful,” the four authors wrote. “The proximity of social entrepreneurs to the needs of communities, as well as [the] unique innovative power of social entrepreneurs, may just be what we all need to achieve a shift-change in our ability to transform our world and to guarantee a sustainable future for generations to come.

“Through support and recognition of their critical role, social entrepreneurs can be the bridge to recovery and the adoption of new models in education, workforce participation, gender empowerment, expanded access to life-saving products, and digital livelihoods, providing the socio-economic equality that our world needs. The time to get behind social entrepreneurs and let them play their part is now.”

High Schooler Gives Kids a Taste of Entrepreneurship in the Bakery Business

A high school junior in Long Island, New York, has developed an innovative learning program to help children discover their own entrepreneurial streak through baking, cupcakes, teamwork and fun.

Seventeen-year-old Kailey Perkins, who attends the Chapin School, cooked up the Young Entrepreneur Scholars program to give middle school kids in underserved New York communities a taste of what’s involved in entrepreneurship by starting a bake shop filled with delicious goodies.

Related: Wofford College social entrepreneurs plant a SEED. for global change

Motivating children has been easy despite the pandemic, Perkins said. “When you offer fun activities, like starting a bakery, kids are open to learning anything, even fractions,” she laughed. “We’re proud that 250 students have completed both our in-person program and virtual sessions during the pandemic.”

Kailey Perkins, founder of Young Entrepreneur Scholars

Giving back isn’t new for Perkins, who was volunteering to assist the elderly at 10 years old. “With the support of my mom (Leslie), charitable work has always been super-important to me,” she said. That’s why she began thinking about starting her own nonprofit. “I didn’t know what type of charity I wanted to organize, then it struck me. I loved to bake and work with children, so why not combine baking with some key ingredients needed to start a new business?”

Perkins threw herself into the project, developing a fun, interactive team curriculum covering a variety of topics, such as brainstorming, logo creation, pricing, advertising, community PR and market research, plus a dash of math to calculate bakery costs.

Next, she created and assembled colorful totes with supplies needed for a bakery start-up, including opportunities for creative expression: a chef’s apron ready for decorating; fabric magic markers; a bountiful supply of stickers; packages of icing and food coloring; and homemade sugar cookies, candies and sprinkles for decorating. Every child also receives a Young Entrepreneur Scholars Certificate of Completion and a surprise gift.

Related: This 12-year-old entrepreneur uses bowties to help shelter animals get adopted

While Young Entrepreneur Scholars focuses on underserved communities, Perkins has also been invited to teach the program as part of educational offerings at other organizations, including Southampton Fresh Air Fund, Little Flowers and Encourage Kids. “The kids enjoyed the activities so much that all they talked about was the designs on their aprons and whose cookies looked and tasted the best, and two members are interested in opening their own business,” one fan of the program said.

Perkins said Young Entrepreneur Scholars is poised for continued growth. “It means so much to see children having fun working together and learning on Zoom, so we’ll be continuing the program throughout the school year,” she said. “We may even start sending totes to various organizations nationwide and conducting our sessions virtually.”

Once normalcy returns to New York, she added, “We’ll go back to teaching students how to bake in person, holding bake sales and participating in community activities. For now, we’re thrilled that we can contribute to a child’s education and enjoyment despite COVID-19.”

Leading Angel Investment Group Creates Affiliate Group for Members of Sullivan Foundation Network

VentureSouth, one of the country’s leading angel investment groups, has launched an affiliate group specifically for faculty, staff, alumni and students of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s 70 partner colleges and universities across the southeastern U.S.

The group, called VentureSouth Sullivan, is one of 14 angel investment groups and funds operated by VentureSouth, headquartered in Greenville, S.C. With its formation, anyone from the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools can become a member of the South’s largest and most successful angel network and invest in innovative startup businesses that will drive the region’s economy. Additionally, 25 percent of their annual membership fees will be donated to the Sullivan Foundation. All proceeds will be used to financially support students, faculty and staff from partner schools who participate in the foundation’s events, programming and education initiatives focused on making positive change in their communities.

Members of VentureSouth Sullivan can also donate a percentage of any profits derived from their investments to benefit the Sullivan school of their choice.

Matt Dunbar, a managing director of VentureSouth, is an alumnus of Sullivan Foundation partner school Clemson University and received the 1999 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. “I was fortunate and humbled to be presented the Sullivan Award upon graduating from Clemson, and, through chance, recently reconnected with the foundation,” Dunbar said. “Creating this affiliate group specifically for Sullivan alumni and donating a portion of the annual fees is one way of supporting the Sullivan network of schools and encouraging students to choose a path of service to their communities.”

The 2019 Angel Funders Report, released in July 2019 by the Angel Capital Association, recognized VentureSouth as one of North America’s top 10 angel investment groups based on capital invested by its members in the previous year. VentureSouth was listed alongside some of the largest and most respected angel groups in the U.S. and Canada, including Tech Coast Angels in California; New York Angels and Golden Seeds in New York; and the Central Texas Angel Network.

Since its inception, VentureSouth has invested nearly $50 million in more than 75 companies, with a focus on the Carolinas and adjacent states. Companies in its portfolio include innovators like Altis Biosystems in Chapel Hill, N.C., which specializes in next-generation stem cell technologies designed to make drug discovery faster, cheaper and safer while reducing the need for animal testing; Actived, the Greenville, S.C. developer of a technology platform for movement-based learning—such as walkabouts—to get kids out of their desks and onto their feet as they’re learning language arts and mathematics; and Proterra, an innovative leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission buses that save money on fleet operations while reducing the transportation industry’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Joining VentureSouth Sullivan’s group allows Sullivan alumni to invest in similar early-stage companies with major growth potential. It’s also a chance to make a difference in an economically disadvantaged region of the U.S. VentureSouth’s motto, after all, is “Make Money. Have Fun. Do Good.”

“For VentureSouth members, ‘doing good’ comes from multiple levels of impact created by our investing activity,” Dunbar said. “We know that all net job growth in the economy comes from young companies that grow fast—and which don’t usually have access to other forms of capital—so our investments really help fuel the growth of good jobs and opportunities and wealth creation in our communities.”

“Additionally, many of our portfolio companies are working to solve serious problems in arenas like cancer diagnostics, infant screening, women’s health, public transit and clean energy,” Dunbar added. “So we are helping advance significant efforts to save lives and protect our environment. Lastly, our model allows VentureSouth members to share their experience and wisdom with the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, which creates a wealth of good in the form of passing it down and paying it forward.”

With the new angel group for Sullivan alumni, Dunbar is paying it forward to the Sullivan Foundation as well. “I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the award or the Sullivans before I became a recipient at Clemson,” he said. “But once I had a chance to learn about the history and legacy of the award and its namesake, I was extremely honored and humbled to share the award with such a long line of great servant leaders. Even now I am still challenged and inspired to try to live up to the principles and values it represents.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the VentureSouth Sullivan angel investment group can join an upcoming series of online Q&A sessions in September. The sessions will be held at venturesouth.vc/venturesouth-sullivan at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 1; 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9; and 11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 17.

Wofford College Student Entrepreneurs Complete Summer Accelerator Program

Five students at Sullivan Foundation partner school Wofford College participated in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Summer Accelerator program this year and plan to be in business before fall starts.

For eight weeks, students in the program participated in weekly advising meetings, tracked progress and prioritized tasks using global startup accelerator tools, and honed entrepreneurial and critical business skills through workshops, while also gaining industry insight from weekly fireside chats with successful entrepreneurs.

“The program is a phenomenal alternative or even a supplement to a job or internship because it provides a different set of opportunities, experiences and skill development,” said Tyler Senecal, director of entrepreneurial programs at Wofford. “The Summer Accelerator is designed to aid students in expediting the process of launching their companies or business ventures by providing them with key resources, support and structure.”

The cohort for Wofford College’s Summer Accelerator program confer online with program leader Tyler Senecal and Wofford alumnus Matt Kilmartin, CEO of Habu and founder of SummerHub.

This year’s program looked a bit different because of COVID-19, with the five participants taking part remotely. Initially viewed as a disadvantage, virtual engagement allowed students to connect with entrepreneurs across the country, including Joseph McMillin, a 2013 Wofford graduate and CEO of Atlas Organics; Bradley Smith, CEO of AVO Insights; and Meggie Williams, CEO of Skipper.

“The Summer Accelerator program brings together a community of like-minded, driven entrepreneurs on Wofford’s campus and beyond,” said Hannah Brown, an English and Spanish double major from Winston-Salem, N.C. Brown is filling a void in the yoga apparel industry with her start-up Form, a company that produces specialized shoes for going to and from the yoga studio.

Most recently, students logged on for a discussion with Matt Kilmartin, a 1997 Wofford graduate, CEO of Habu and founder of SummerHub, a program that connects college students to “flexternships” at companies. With 15 years in the technology and entrepreneurship space, Kilmartin shared lessons learned and imparted useful advice that student-entrepreneurs could apply to their own start-ups.

“Through our weekly meetings and fireside chats, I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur is more about pursuing a mindset than a strict set of skills,” says Campbell Harmening, a junior finance major from Orlando. “In order to have a meaningful company, you have to identify problems in your community and create solutions.” That’s exactly what Harmening is doing with his start-up, Graduates Garage, a platform for students to exchange goods and services securely on their respective campuses.

Harmening and Brown are working alongside three other student-entrepreneurs in the Summer Accelerator program.

Grace Gehlken, cofounder of SEED., and her mother pose wearing a pair of the social enterprise’s handcrafted Bloom Bracelets.

Grace Gehlken is a junior Spanish and finance double major from Charleston, South Carolina. She is cofounder of a start-up called SEED., a social enterprise venture that sells local and global artisans’ work with a percentage of the profits distributed to nonprofit organizations and community leaders to fund key tools and resources. SEED. was featured in the Fall 2020 issue of the Sullivan Foundation’s Engage magazine, and cofounder Mackenzie Syiem was an attendee of the foundation’s 2019 Social Entrepreneurship Field Trip.

Grace Cromer, a senior business economics major from Anderson, S.C., is developing Grace upon Grace, an adaptive clothing line for special-needs newborns and infants. The line is intended to help parents navigate the complications of caring for children with special needs.

Finance major Zander Dale, a junior from Athens, Ga., is working toward the launch of TripShare. TripShare is a platform that connects like-minded travelers so they can build trips and experiences like never before.