If you’ve got that certain spark in you—that burning passion to change your hometown, your campus or maybe the whole world for the better—it’s not always easy to share it with others. People might look at you like you’re a little crazy, too idealistic, too “out there.” But at the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Ignite Retreat, taking place Oct. 7-9 in Black Mountain, N.C., things will be different. Guaranteed.

Designed for college students who are serious about social change but don’t know where to start, the Fall 2022 Ignite Retreat will feature dynamic, high-energy workshops, activities and opportunities to connect with like-minded young people who want to make a real difference. Over three days, a team of facilitators, coaches and conspirators will lead participants on a journey to discover how they can build a better, more just, sustainable and inclusive world—whether through social entrepreneurship, founding a nonprofit, launching a social-change project, or by simply cultivating and honing their leadership skills and creative talents.

Click here to learn more about the Fall 2022 Ignite Retreat.

Click here to sign up for the Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat today!

The Ignite Retreat offers three tracks, each with two workshops:

Personal: For those students who want to uncover their calling, clarify their passions, build their self-confidence and explore the mindset of a social entrepreneur.

Problems: For those who care about a specific problem and want to discover new ways to find and lead solutions for their community.

 For those who want to dive deeply into one concrete solution, campus initiative, project or venture they’re trying to bring to life.

Ky’lexius Gwynn

Ky’lexius Gwynn, a senior education major at Guilford College, walked away from the Spring 2022 retreat, held April 1-3 in Staunton, Va., with the confidence she needed to launch a community garden project on her campus. She also won second place—and $200—in the retreat’s pitch competition for her project, called Here We Grow Healthy.

As she pitched the idea to her peers at the retreat, she was taken aback by the support and encouragement they gave her. “It surprised me when people actually stood there listening to me, and it made me want to dive deeper into my passion for food security,” she recalled. “I don’t usually have many people my age take my ideas seriously or try to support me, so, when I won second place…I was totally surprised. People actually cared. Being in a space with people who supported me and were equally passionate about their own ideas encouraged me to believe in myself.”

Hebron Mekuria, a sophomore from Ethiopia majoring in engineering at Eastern Mennonite University, had a similar experience. In that same pitch competition last spring, she won first place and $300 for a social venture to provide children in her native country—which has a high illiteracy rate—with engaging books and materials that will start them reading early on.

Hebron Mekuria

“Often, visionaries might find themselves in communities that don’t appreciate their drive and their dreams,” Mekuria said. “Most college students feel uncomfortable around those who are angsty to challenge the status quo and to change the world.”

But at the Ignite Retreat, she met and made friends with students from other schools “who were excited and confident about changing the world in one aspect or another,” she said. “Because of this like-mindedness, [the retreat] felt like such a safe space to verbalize our dreams, our plans and our grand goals that we know we can achieve but nobody else might have believed in in our regular setting.”

Just like Mekuria and Gwynn, students at this semester’s Ignite Retreat will benefit from one-on-one mentorship and connect with coaches who have started nonprofits and social ventures and continue to lead real change in their communities. The hands-on workshops will help them understand their passions and clarify problems they want to address as changemakers—and set them on the right path to launch their own projects.

Not to mention they’ll meet new friends, cheerleaders and collaborators—the kind of support network that might be hard to find on their campuses back home.

That’s how it worked out for Gwynn, who plans to launch her community garden at Guilford College this fall. “Sometimes I lose faith in myself and get really overwhelmed because I have so many ideas, and it seems like I’m the only one around me thinking the way that I do,” she said. “But being at the retreat, I met other people like me who are driven to reach their goals, no matter how big or how small. The experience gave me motivation, friends, smart ideas, and the confidence to make Here We Grow Healthy a real thing.”

Tickets for the Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat are $450. However, students from colleges and universities in the Sullivan Foundation network are often eligible to receive a sponsored ticket paid for by their schools.

To request funding from your school, click here to contact a Sullivan Campus Representative.

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