Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat Promises a “Mind-Blowing” Experience for College Changemakers

When Bailey Pollard, a Business Sustainability Collaborative (BSC) associate at North Carolina State University, arrived at the Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat in Asheville, N.C., she didn’t know much about social entrepreneurship. “I just knew I wanted to change the world some way, somehow,” she wrote in an article about the retreat. She also knew she wanted to boost her self-confidence and create a changemaking project based on some ideas that had been percolating in her mind for a while.

The retreat didn’t just meet her expectations, Pollard wrote. “It was easily one of the best experiences I have had.”

The upcoming Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat, which takes place April 1-3, will deliver similar results for the next cohort of young changemakers—this time in a different locale: Staunton, Virginia, home of Sullivan Foundation partner school Mary Baldwin University.

The deadline to register for the Spring Retreat is Monday, March 14.

Click here for all the details about the event.

this photo shows three students from North Carolina State University attending the Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreat

Bailey Pollard (right), shown here with fellow North Carolina State students Zara Pandite and Jordan Bowman, said the Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat was “mind-blowing and amazing.”

This year’s workshops will be hosted at the Staunton Innovation Hub, located in the heart of the city’s Historic District. As always, the retreat will offer three life-changing tracks:

Personal: This track is designed for students who want to uncover their calling, better understand their skills and passions, build their self-confidence and explore the mindset of a social entrepreneur.

Problems: Designed for students who have a set of problems they want to work on but don’t know how to get started, the Problems track provides them with concrete and practical skills.

Project: This track is for students who want dive deeply into one concrete solution, campus initiative, project or venture that they’re actively trying to bring to life.

Attendees can bounce between any workshop they’re interested in or stick with one for the duration of the event.

Along the way, they’ll receive one-on-one mentorship from experienced coaches who have started nonprofits or built social ventures. They’ll also attend high-energy, uplifting workshops that will help them understand their passions and find clarity on the problems they want to solve in their communities or in the world at large.

Above all, they’ll build friendships and important connections with fellow changemakers their own age from more than 30 colleges and universities across the American South.

this shows a group of three students celebrating their new skills at the Sullivan Foundation's Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat event for college changemakers

A trio of students celebrate their new skills at the Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat.

The Spring 2022 Retreat also offers a dedicated track for faculty and staff members who want to network with their colleagues from other schools. Details on this track will be released closer to the date of the event.

Pollard said the event empowered her with faith in her own abilities to make change happen and the confidence to start moving forward on her project. “I was able to formulate my ideas into something I can do in real life with the guidance of the coaches,” Pollard reflected. “The coaches are all successful social entrepreneurs. They were able to give me so much insight and guidance through their experiences, which I learned so much from.”

She added, “I learned that if you want something to happen, you must do it in real life, no matter how big or how small. This stuck with me because I am forever ‘researching’ my ideas online but never formally acting on them.”

Christopher Raville, a student at Elon University, had a similar experience at the Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat. The event “provided a space for those of us who are deeply passionate about creating social change to interact and network with like-minded social entrepreneurs,” he said. “Workshopping my own initiative provided fresh insights on how to deliver an impactful prototype. Pitching my initiative provided a space to practice delivering my message to a large, diverse group and left me with feedback as to how to better communicate my vision.”

Rich Meagher, director of social entrepreneurship at Randolph-Macon College, said his students leave the Ignite Retreats with a new, fresh and positive way of looking at the challenges their communities face. The events, he said, have “opened my students’ eyes and hearts to a new world of community service, specifically business-centric activities that solve problems and are sustainable. Many of my students now see their career options and life paths in a very different way!”

For her part, Pollard said she left the Fall 2021 retreat “as a new and improved person. I will take the skills I learned and use them for the rest of my life. I wish that everyone could experience something as mind-blowing and amazing as the Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreat.”

Sullivan Foundation to Launch Leadership and Entrepreneurship Coursework Program in 2022

Starting in Summer 2022, The Sullivan Foundation will launch a new extracurricular coursework program for college students that will better prepare them to drive real and lasting social change as the civic and entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow.

Through the coursework, participating students will develop and hone their leadership and social entrepreneurial skills in Sullivan Foundation-sponsored Study Abroad and Study USA programs while earning academic credits, real-world internship experience and certification.

“Students at our partner schools want to make a positive impact on their communities and the world around them, but it’s hard to find courses that will guide them on that path,” said Steve McDavid, president of the Sullivan Foundation. “When these courses are available at their schools, they’re often spread out among different academic disciplines. So a student might have to take a leadership course in public policy, a community assessment and engagement course in sociology, an entrepreneurship course in business, a media and communications course in marketing, etc. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of cohesion in this approach, and the students don’t have a specific path of coursework to follow as future leaders focused on positive changemaking.”

Related: Study abroad in Strasbourg, France next summer for under $4,000

To find innovative solutions to this challenge, the Sullivan Foundation put together an advisory board comprised of faculty members from 18 of its 70 partner colleges and universities. These board members researched and developed detailed programs and coursework to provide a clear path for students who want to become leaders and changemakers with the skills they need to make a real difference.

The program, set to launch in 2022 and expand in 2023, will consist of extracurricular short courses, workshops and boot camps. “To get started, each student will identify the issue or issues they’re passionate about and want to address,” McDavid explained. “Then, they’ll learn effective leadership, team-building, problem-assessment and collaboration skills to work on these issues in their own way, whether that’s through a social enterprise, community outreach or developing public-policy solutions.”

“Finally—and this is important—our students will learn how to communicate their successes through a variety of outlets, like social media, traditional advertising, press releases and online marketing and content development,” McDavid added.

This new approach kicks off with courses offered in the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Study Abroad France program, taking place June 24-July 23, 2022, in Strasbourg. During the first two weeks of the Strasbourg program, all participating students will take a course titled “Leading for Impact & Innovation.” For the second half of the program, students can choose between two courses: “Leadership by Design” and “Intercultural Communications.” The program is a partnership between the Sullivan Foundation and the European Study Center in Strasbourg.

Click here to learn more about these Study Abroad France courses.

The Sullivan Foundation is also working on a plan to provide its next cohort of Study Abroad France students with internship opportunities in late 2022, where they’ll get real-world experience in impact entrepreneurship, leadership and changemaking.

Starting in 2023, the coursework will expand, with a total of five courses offered in that year’s Study Abroad program. Additionally, the Sullivan Foundation plans to launch a new Study USA program in which students who can’t travel to France can still take the changemaking courses in designated American towns and cities. The 2023 Study USA program will offer two courses and then expand to five courses in 2024 or 2025 at the latest.

Once the program is fully running, students will be able to take all five courses, either in the Study Abroad or the Study USA program, depending on their preference.

The five courses are:

Social Entrepreneurship 101
This course will introduce students to the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation and help them learn to innovate and implement impactful, sustainable and scalable methods of solving society’s problems.

Leadership by Design
This course will provide a basic introduction to leadership, focusing on the practice of leadership and what it means to be a good leader.

Community Assessment and Problem Assessment
Students will learn how to systematically assess and define the needs of a target organization and/or population as well as any potential gaps between desired needs and current resources.

Social Impact Communications
This course will introduce students to the field of integrated marketing communications and its role in promoting a product, service or business enterprise.

 Entrepreneurial Skills Deep Dive
Students will examine prominent models of social enterprises, acquiring insight and understanding of the factors that lend to—or limit—the effectiveness of social entrepreneurs.

The new Sullivan coursework will culminate in internships for participating students as well as a capstone project at their college or university.

The internship experience will give students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in their introductory courses. Students will spend 40 hours interning at a social venture in their community. They will also take part in an online community of other Sullivan students working in their own internships, where they’ll reflect on the lessons they’ve learned and the dilemmas they’ve faced.

Related: Study-Abroad France offers a life-changing adventure in Strasbourg

Finally, a capstone course will introduce students to action research, a form of systematic inquiry by practitioners looking to execute solutions for complex problems. Through action research, they’ll gain a better understanding of the issues and learn how to improve the situation that concerns them most. The primary objective of the course is to prepare students to do action research in communities in the real world. To wrap it all up, the students will develop a capstone proposal outlining the main problems and desired solutions.

“We’re excited to begin rolling out this new program next year,” McDavid said. “The Sullivan Foundation has always recognized, encouraged and rewarded social innovation among college students and our partner schools. Now, we’re taking a major step forward on our end through this innovative coursework. We look forward to leading these changemakers on their path and providing them with educational and real-world opportunities that weren’t available before.”

Study Abroad in Strasbourg, France Next Summer for Under $4,000

Any student from a Sullivan Foundation partner school can receive $2,000 in scholarships to take part in next summer’s Study Abroad France program, a one-month educational, leadership and travel adventure in beautiful and historic Strasbourg, France. Even if you don’t attend a Sullivan partner school, you can still receive a $1,000 scholarship directly from the CEPA Foundation, Sullivan’s Strasbourg-based partner in the program.

The program, titled Leading for Impact & Innovation, takes place from June 24 to July 23, 2022. Enrollment applications must be received by March 15.

The program fee is $5,790, but all participating students will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the CEPA Foundation if they apply by March 1. Students who attend a Sullivan partner school may also qualify for an additional $1,000 scholarship from the Sullivan Foundation.

For students in the Sullivan Foundation network, that means the total cost for this life-changing adventure comes to just $3,790 for a full month in the heart of Europe, including side trips to Heidelberg, Germany, and other nearby cities. Students will also have their weekends free to travel and explore the cities and historic sites that make Europe such a magical destination for millions of tourists every year. After all, Paris is just a short train ride away!

Scholarship funds are limited, and funds will be exhausted quickly, so it’s important to apply right away.

Click here to learn more about this unique study-abroad opportunity.

Click here to go directly to the application portal on the European Study Center’s website.

Students enjoy a little leisure time in Strasbourg, France during a study-abroad adventure.

Students enjoy a little leisure time in Strasbourg, France during a study-abroad adventure.

“This program has enhanced my understanding of my flaws, strengths and values,” said past participant Jonah Harris, a student from Georgia College and State University. “I feel more confident in my sense of self and have the tools to be an international leader.”

This engaging and interactive summer study abroad program combines classroom instruction with high-profile guest lectures, visits and excursions, plus practical training in stakeholder analysis, strategic planning, goal setting, mediation, social responsibility, intercultural negotiation, and leadership. At the end of the program, students will be better prepared for their future careers as leaders in a globalized world.

Lori Babb took part in the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad Prague program in 2019.

For the entire month, students will live and work together in the European Study Center’s Château de Pourtalès, a 250-year-old castle straight out of a fairy tale. Every morning brings a free catered French breakfast to kick off an exciting day of classroom learning, lectures and meetings with successful social entrepreneurs, and visits to European Union institutions where many of the world’s foremost leaders come together to chart a path to a peaceful and prosperous future.

Above all, this study-abroad experience will change the way you view the world—and your important role in it, says Lori Babb, a Campbell University alumnus who took part in the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad program in Prague in 2019. That adventure included presentations by active social entrepreneurs who had gone through the study-abroad program in years past. “To be able to see and meet those who experienced the same program and who took those strides to ignite change and create social enterprises was incredibly inspiring,” Babb said. “It also emphasizes how life-changing this summer abroad can be if you utilize and maximize the skills and resources the program provides.”

Angela Lewis: Always Take the Smallest Apple in the Pile

By Meg Sinervo

Angela Lewis wasn’t expecting to hear her name called out during the announcement of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award at Alice Lloyd College back in 1983. But her post-college dedication to helping others, both in her career and in her personal life, prove that she was the right choice for the award. Here, she reviews her life of service thus far, including her commitment to making sure that no child gets picked last for a team just because they haven’t yet learned how to play the game.

What do you remember most about receiving the Sullivan award?

Lewis: What I remember most about receiving the Sullivan Award was the description and community involvement the speaker was giving of the recipient when the presentation was being made. My friend was nudging me, saying, “That sounds like you!” But I had no idea that it was being presented to me. I believe I received the award due to my involvement in the community and for always taking the smallest apple in the pile, so to speak, so others could enjoy more of the fruit.

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

Angela Lewis

Lewis: My career has mostly been in teaching, and my certified field was Physical Education [P.E.]. I have taught and used my P. E. degree in two third-world countries: Tonga (1985) and Jamaica (1991-1996). I taught English as a second language and P. E. in Tonga. I introduced volleyball to our village school and community, and I helped coach their track and field teams.

In Jamaica, I taught kindergarten and basic school at SOS Children’s Village and taught and coached the older kids in mini-tennis, netball and soccer. Now, I teach high school special-needs students in a self-contained setting at a small-town school.

In addition to teaching life skills, job skills and community-based instruction, I also teach an Adapted P. E. class that my students love! I stopped coaching volleyball and soccer after about 10 years due to injuries. When I was in seventh grade, I knew that I wanted to go into physical education. I was always an athlete, but I had many friends who weren’t athletic at all. In P. E. class, I watched kids get chosen last because they didn’t already know how to play the game. I wanted to teach kids how to learn the skills needed to play a game, even if just in a recreational or family weekend-fun setting.

Are you involved with any community service or community outreach now?

Lewis: I am currently a Special Olympic committee member in our county as well as the Beta Club sponsor at our high school. We are involved in many community service projects, such as providing child care for parents of special needs kids during parent mentoring meetings; Relay for Life; Foster Child Christmas parties; Rivers Alive Community Clean-up; raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research; and Pennies for Patients.

The social issues that matter most to me are animal cruelty, homelessness and child abuse/neglect.

If pressed to give one piece of advice to younger people, what would you tell them? What have you learned as an adult that you wish you’d known earlier in life?

Lewis: Everyone has something to contribute in life. Find your passion and make a difference. As an adult, one thing I have learned—and wish I had known earlier in life—is to have confidence in myself.

Hollins University Students Inspired by Sullivan’s “Head, Heart, Hustle” Workshop

Students in Hollins University’s first-year seminar “Sustainability and Social Innovation” are focused on finding ways to address the world’s most pressing problems as they present themselves in our local communities. Class members this fall received inspiration and a blueprint on how to start finding their purpose as social entrepreneurs through “Head, Heart, Hustle,” an interactive workshop presented in September by the Sullivan Foundation as part of its Sullivan Roadshow.

“What we do is simply support young people who want to be changemakers,” explained Reagan Pugh, a facilitator with the Sullivan Foundation. Partnering with a network of 70 schools throughout the southeastern United States, the foundation inspires young people to prioritize service to others above self-interest.

Pugh discussed with the students the idea of finding “an intersection” between one’s own beliefs, passions and skills. “We know that we want that, but some of us are not one hundred percent clear what that looks like,” he said. “It’s a work in progress. The most effective young people are the most reflective young people.”

Related: Hollins University uses arts and letters to promote public transportation

Pugh urged the class to “take a minute and pay attention to what’s going on around us and make observations. Then, pick a path forward and do that incrementally over time. Move toward finding something that’s right for [you] and right for the world.”

In the “Head, Heart, Hustle” workshop, Pugh led the students in recognizing potential career pathways that employ one’s head (an individual’s skills and unique gifts) and align with one’s heart (the issues that matter most) in order to develop a hustle (a vocation) that fits the individual and serves others.

“If you leave here today and you have a clear step of something you might try, in real life, to bring you clarity about what you might want to do, that’s our goal,” Pugh noted.

Reagan Pugh at Hollins University

For his whirlwind, one-week Sullivan Roadshow, Pugh visited several other Sullivan Foundation partner schools, including Berry College, Warren Wilson College, Lees-McRae College and Mary Baldwin University.

At Hollins, all first-year students take a first-year seminar. These seminars allow them to participate in collaborative and active learning and to hone their skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, research, writing and oral communication. Each seminar also has an upper-class student mentor called a Student Success Leader, or SSL. SSLs attend the seminar, help students with advising, and answer academic questions.

“Igniting passion into people and seeing them transform will always be a concept that’s magical to me,” said Hollins student Zahin Mahbuba, a senior who serves as the SSL for “Sustainability and Social Innovation.” From her perspective, the workshop had a profound impact. “It was tremendous to see the students being struck by their own sense of inspiration and to ultimately want to build on their passions.”

this photo shows Hollins University students pay close attention during Reagan Pugh's Head, Heart, Hustle workshop

Hollins University students pay close attention during Reagan Pugh’s Head, Heart, Hustle workshop.

Assistant Professor of Education Teri Wagner co-teaches “Sustainability and Social Innovation” with Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Mary Jane Carmichael. “At the heart of the concepts of sustainability and social innovation is stewardship—the responsible use and protection of the environment around you through thoughtful and intentional practices that enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being,” Wagner said.

The concept of stewardship, she added, is applicable not only to the environment and nature, but also to economics, health, information, theology, cultural resources and beyond.

“In this seminar, we challenge students to develop innovative solutions to complex problems by applying design thinking principles while working in multidisciplinary collaborative teams,” Wagner said. “We challenge them to ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.”

This article has been edited and expanded from the original version appearing on the Hollins University website.

Bailey Pollard: Ignite Retreat Was “One of the Best Experiences I Have Had”

By Bailey Pollard, North Carolina State University

The Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat was easily one of the best experiences I have had. I met so many incredible people and learned so much about myself and the world around me in just a short span of three days. I started the retreat with two goals; to gain confidence in myself and my abilities, and to create a project based on some ideas I had going into the retreat. One saying that really stuck with me this weekend—one that I will be sure to implement every day in my life—is that “there is movement in stillness.” I am the type of person that always needs to be doing something, and if I’m not doing anything I start feeling like I’m falling behind.

Before the retreat, I never thought about what it means to be a social entrepreneur. I just knew I wanted to change the world some way, somehow. Social innovation isn’t just about providing new products or new services; it’s about changing the underlying beliefs and relationships that structure the world around us

Saturday was dedicated to exploring our goals through workshops. The first workshop I chose was on a problem track. The problem track is designed for people who have an idea of what they want to accomplish but do not know how to start it. The theme for this workshop was focused on unlocking creativity. In this workshop, I was able to formulate my ideas into something I can do in real life with the guidance of the coaches. The coaches are all successful social entrepreneurs. They were able to give so much insight and guidance through their experiences, which I learned so much from. I learned that if you want something to happen, you must do it in real life no matter how big or how small. This stuck with me because I am forever “researching” my ideas online, but never formally acting on them.

Related: Jonathan Molai’s “life was forever changed” by the Ignite Retreat

The second workshop I chose was on the personal track. The personal track is designed to help you find your calling in life, to understand your skills and passions, and to build self-confidence. The theme for this workshop focused on overcoming fears. In the activity we did, we had a partner. One person had to talk for 20 minutes about something that was holding them back while the other person was not allowed to respond in any way. Most times in conversation we tend to add our own stories or insight, which can take away from someone else’s story. Or we are too busy thinking about how we can add to the conversation that we never truly are present in what the other person is sharing. This exercise allowed me to reflect on how I respond when conversing with others and even enjoy the “awkward” silences that encompass that.

Over the weekend, I challenged myself to start focusing on being directionally correct, which means focusing on moving in the right direction towards my goals. I definitely would say I gained confidence in myself and my abilities. I also am now in the process of developing my project with the help of the coaches.

But it wasn’t until we were on the way back home that I started to digest everything I learned. I went into the retreat with a closed mind on what I wanted to do. I left the retreat with a billion ideas and great enthusiasm to start a project I would have never even thought about. I also have the knowledge and resources now to make it happen!

Related: 7 things you should know about the Ignite Retreat

The thing I enjoyed the most from this retreat was being able to be vulnerable by sharing our deepest darkest worries, our dreams, and being our true selves. The coaches at the retreat provided eye-opening insight and motivation to allow us to take that step and go after our dreams. This experience challenged me, and I feel like I left as a new and improved person! I will take the skills I learned and use them for the rest of my life.

I wish that everyone could experience something as mind-blowing and amazing as the Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreat.

Bailey Pollard is a Business Sustainability Collaborative (BSC) Associate at North Carolina State University. This article has been edited slightly from the original version appearing on the NCSU website.

The Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat: One Person Really Can Change the World

Changing the world is never easy. In fact, as challenges go, it’s downright intimidating, especially for individuals. And when you’re still in college, it might seem downright impossible. But that’s how meaningful change usually starts—with young, passionate people who genuinely care about their communities, their country, and the planet.

In other words, one person really can change the world. And one person with a network of like-minded peers, coaches and mentors can get it done better and faster. This year’s Ignite Retreat, hosted Oct. 8-10 by the Sullivan Foundation in Asheville, N.C., makes leading social change a little easier—and a lot more fun. This event offers college students a chance to meet with and learn from experienced change leaders and coaches who have started nonprofits, built social ventures and dedicated their careers to creating better communities.

Advance registration for the event is required, and the deadline to sign up is Sept. 9. It’s coming up fast, so click here to register today!


this photo shows coaches from a past Ignite Retreat event for college student changemakers

Experienced coaches and entrepreneurs will provide mentorship for changemakers at the upcoming Ignite Retreat.

Three Tracks
So how does the retreat work? For starters, you get to choose your own changemaking adventure through three tracks:

Personal: This track is designed for those who are still trying to uncover their calling in life. If you want to better understand your skills and your passions, build up your self-confidence and learn about the mindset of the social entrepreneur, the Personal Track is for you!

Problems: So let’s say you already know what you want to accomplish—there’s a specific problem or set of problems that you want to address—but don’t know how to get cracking on it. The Problems Track is where you’ll learn how to become more involved, organized and proactive and start making a difference. You will leave with concrete and practical skills to put your ideas into action.

Project: This is the deep dive. In this track, you’ll be coached along as you develop one concrete solution, campus initiative, project or venture that you want to bring to life! You will leave the retreat excited, motivated and ready to make a difference back home!

It’s work, yes, but it’s meaningful work, not like the stuffy classroom book-learning that can make your college experience a little, well, tedious. And you’ll be connecting one-to-one with potential mentors and fellow students who can help make your dreams a reality—or, at least, give you the ongoing encouragement you need to keep marching forward.

The Ignite Retreat Agenda
In three days, you will receive mentorship from coaches and entrepreneurs, attend workshops and take part in fun, thought-provoking exercises, and rub shoulders with like-minded students from more than 30 universities who will become your friends, cheerleaders and co-conspirators. Here’s how it will all play out:

Day 1, Friday, Oct. 8
6-7 p.m.: Dinner
7-9 p.m.: Kick-off Workshop and Welcome

  • Framing & Introductions
  • Agenda Overview
  • A Quick Dive into Social Entrepreneurship
  • Intention Setting for the Weekend

Day 2, Saturday, Oct. 9
8-9 a.m.: Breakfast

9-10:30 a.m. Morning warm-up

  • Connection
  • “What is changemaking?” discussion
  • Introduction of track sessions (Personal, Problems and Project)

10:45 a.m.-12:15 a.m.: Workshop 1

  • Personal: Head, Heart, Hustle
  • Problems: Unlocking Creativity
  • Project: Charting Your First Steps

12:30-2 pm.: Lunch

2-4 p.m.: Workshop 2

  • Personal: Farewell Fear
  • Problems: Grow Your Team
  • Project: Pitch and Find the Money!

4:45-6 p.m.: Full Group Tiny Reach

6-7 p.m.: Dinner

7-8 p.m.: Changemaker Storytime

8-9 p.m.: Try on a Hustle 

Day 3, Sunday, Oct. 10
8-9 a.m.: Breakfast

9-10:15 a.m.: Prototype Pitch Competition

10:15-11:15 a.m.: Closing debrief


College students from across the country have described their Ignite Retreat as life-changing. “An activity that particularly stood out to me was about empathic listening,” said Angy Aguilar, a computer science and entrepreneurship double major from Elon University who attended the Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat. “Students formed groups, and one person in the group shared a problem in their life that they had. We were encouraged to ask ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions rather than ‘why’ questions to really understand the problem. I found this activity very valuable as most of the time we listen to respond rather than listen to understand and empathize.”

“After this weekend, I know I have a community of people who understand my motivation,” said Imani Vincent, an Elon University health major who joined Aguilar at the retreat. “What amazed me about the Ignite Retreat was being able to be in a space with so many people with different perspectives who all want in some way to make social change.”

“My first Ignite Retreat had such a huge impact on me that I wanted to become more involved with the organization,” said Amber Merklinger, a past Ignite Retreat attendee and alumnus of Campbell University. “It will ignite in you the desire to go beyond the superficial and dig deep into the heart of the community in order to help those around you.”

And Amaya Lyles, a Columbia College graduate, said her Ignite Retreat experience “truly sparked a change in me and ignited a fire that I didn’t know I had. I entered with no clue what I was going to get out of it other than some peace of mind and fresh air. I left feeling transcendent and with a new business idea.”

Want to feel transcendent? The Ignite Retreat will make it happen. Sign up today!

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all participants in this year’s Ignite Retreat will be required to provide proof of vaccination prior to their arrival. Except for meals, you must wear a mask for all indoor activities, but workshops will be held outdoors whenever possible if the weather permits. Finally, if you develop COVID-19 symptoms in the days leading up to the retreat, you should not attend the event. However, your ticket can be redeemed at no cost for the Spring 2022 Ignite Retreat.

Ignite Masterclasses for Student Changemakers Return in September 2021

More than 2,000 changemakers from 27 colleges and universities took part in the Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Masterclasses in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters. Now, this innovative masterclass series is back for the Fall 2021 semester, bringing together students from across the globe to learn how they can make a real difference on their campuses and in their communities as true change leaders.

Presented by Spud Marshall of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, the virtual Ignite Masterclasses are free to all participants. Held online throughout September, these masterclass workshops and networking sessions will feature award-winning social innovation leaders and facilitators from the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Fall 2021 Ignite Retreat. Each talk will highlight an Ignite Retreat coach or facilitator, and students will then get to meet them in person at the retreat, to be held October 8-10 in Asheville, N.C.

Learn more about the Ignite Masterclasses and register to attend sessions for free here.

Each 75-minute session consists of a lightning talk on a specific social initiative as well as a chance to network with peers and coaches in the changemaking field. Students will get the chance to build relationships with students from other universities and around the world. They will also meet and learn from leading social innovators in these interactive, action-inspiring events.

This semester’s Ignite Masterclasses kick off on Wednesday, Sept. 1, and continue through Wednesday, Sept. 22. Covered topics include:

* Leadership and Personal Development
* Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation
* Education and Community Development
* Poverty and Hunger
* Health and Wellness
* Social Justice and Equality
* Environment and Climate

Here’s a closer look at the full Ignite Masterclass Schedule for Fall 2021:

Note: All times are Eastern time.

Wednesday, Sept. 1
1-2:15 p.m.
Why Following Your Passion is a Bad Idea and What to Do Instead

What does it even mean to “follow your passion”? Most of us have tried it and lost our motivation, gotten discouraged and found ourselves back where we started—with no clear direction. In this interactive discussion, you’ll learn why participating in activities that reveal progress is far more important than pursuing your passions. You’ll learn tactics you can use to get clarity on your future by tracking your knowledge and skills instead of your passions.

Click here to register for this session now.

Tuesday, Sept. 7
12:30-1:45 p.m.
How to Be an Entrepreneur When You Don’t Have a Big Idea

Many of us want to start our own business and live life by our own rules and on our own schedule. But how do you do it if you don’t already have a big idea in mind? In this interactive session, you’ll learn from entrepreneurs who have figured it out. You’ll walk away with strategies to help you begin your journey as an entrepreneur even if you don’t know how to start.

Click here to register for this session now.

Thursday, Sept. 9
11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
How to Create a Community Where People Regularly Give Back

Does it seem like you’re the only person in your community who really wants to create positive change? Learn how to get others to join you on your changemaking journey in this masterclass session. You’ll learn how to motivate friends and neighbors to act selflessly and create a roadmap to building a community where more people want to get involved and give back.

Click here to register for this session now.

Tuesday, Sept. 14
2-3:15 p.m.
How to Discover the Root Needs That Exist in Your Community

Do you really understand your community’s needs, or do you just think you do? You could be wrong. To really make a difference, you need to listen the needs of others in your community and start crafting solutions to meet those needs. In this discussion, you’ll discover how to you can create a successful and sustainable venture that will serve your community’s true needs.

Click here to register for this session now.


Thursday, Sept. 16
2-3:15 p.m. (session 1)
3:30-4:45 p.m. (session 2)
How to Help People Adopt New Habits

Improving the health of our communities involves small daily actions. Whether it’s health choices, mindsets or financial decisions, our habits shape our lives and our perspectives. This session will help you guide others to adopt better habits through the science of habit formation. You’ll acquire the skills to understand the habits of your community and insights on how to guide people toward healthier behaviors.

Click here to register for session 1 now.

Click here to register for session 2 now.

Monday, Sept. 20
2:30-3:45 p.m.
How to Use the Arts to Infuse Racial Justice into Your Professional and Personal Efforts
Many of us struggle to start conversations about racial injustice, but these conversations have become increasingly important. Sometimes the most powerful way to create change is helping people to shift their perspectives and offer them a new way of seeing injustice or providing a challenge through creative mediums like dance, poetry, drama and the visual arts. In this dialogue, you’ll learn how to combine the power of being an activist with the inspiration of an artist.

Click here to register for this session now.


 Wednesday, Sept. 22
2:30-3:45 p.m.
10 Small Ways to Create a More Sustainable Campus
Lasting change takes time and patience—a lot of both. Progress moves so slowly, we often barely even notice it. But when it comes to being environmentally conscious and establishing sustainable practices on your campus, you can make a bigger difference than you realize. After this thought-provoking session with an environmental changemaker, you’ll leave with ideas for making small yet crucial changes to create a more sustainable campus.

Click here to register for this session now.


King University Honors Two Students and Minister With Sullivan Awards

King University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, recently presented the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards to students Kiayana Roberts and Megan Hagy and community member the Rev. Dr. W. A. Johnson for their high standards of character, integrity and service and commitment to creating positive change in their communities.

Crestview, Florida native Kiayana Roberts graduated from King University in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. While there, she served as the president of the Student Government Association, chair of the Student Life Activities Committee at King (SLACK) and resident assistant. She also volunteered in numerous clubs, ministries and campus organizations. She is currently pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy while working as an area coordinator as part of King’s residence life staff. She plans a career in the juvenile rehabilitation sector of criminal justice.

“Kiayana is an amazing student with strong faith and character, representative of the values and standards held by King University,” said Chase Arndt, director of student life at King University. “She lives out her faith in Christ by her devotion and care to those around her, and she is always looking for new ways she can serve or reach out to those in need.”

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic.

“Among the various ways that Kiayana was engaged in campus life during her time at King, the thing that consistently stood out was her strong sense of ethics and her care and concern about those with whom she was working,” said Dr. Matt Peltier, King’s dean of academic services and university librarian. “It was apparent that she approached things through a lens of grace, love and compassion, respecting the integrity and inherent worth of others, while also being committed to maintaining her own integrity.”

Megan Hagy is a 2021 graduate of King with a BS in Biology. Throughout her four years as a full-time student, she worked as a kennel technician, initiated numerous informal study groups to help classmates with difficult courses, and organized Bible studies involving both students and professors. A native of Bristol, Virginia, she plans to pursue veterinary school and eventually own her own veterinary practice.

“Megan is humble, giving and encouraging in a way that puts others first and never seeks the spotlight for herself,” said Dr. Laura Ong, an associate professor of biology. “She is one of the most selfless students I have ever taught or spent time with and is beloved by students and faculty for her cheerful manner, her unflagging efforts in her studies, and her habit of lifting others’ spirits with her quiet encouragement. She has spent many hours working to support herself, her family and her career goals. Her dedication to those who depend on her has left precious little time for herself, which makes her daily outreach to others all the more remarkable.”

“In her time at King, Megan has built lasting relationships with both her peers and faculty,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Josh Rudd. “Her kindness, cheer and compassion speak louder than words, filling the lives of those around her with love. It is King’s honor to bestow this award on her as a standard-bearer of its ideals.”

The Rev. Dr. W.A. Johnson grew up in the Hampton, Virginia area and is a graduate of Virginia Union University in Richmond, the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, and the Chicago Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago. For six decades, he has served as a spiritual leader to Bristol, the surrounding region and the Commonwealth. He is a former trustee of Virginia Union University and has served on a number of boards of directors and advisory boards.

Related: Lucy Burch, a “unicorn” at Huntingdon College, honored with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Johnson organized the Bristol Head Start Center in 1966, led several capital projects at Lee Street Baptist Church, served as the moderator of the Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Association of Southwest Virginia, led the Baptists of Virginia to build a new state office in Richmond, and has helped plant churches in Central Asia, Africa, Haiti, Cuba, and South Africa. He served as an open-door devotional speaker for WCYB for 30 years. He currently serves on the boards of WHCB, WLFG, Bristol Faith in Action, Mike Jenkins Ministries Inc., and Living Faith Ministries Inc., and he presents the “Living Word” television program on WLFG every Sunday morning.

“Dr. Johnson has borne witness to the transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ, both in his pastoral ministry at Lee Street Baptist Church and in his significant community leadership through times of crisis and growth,” said Martin Dotterweich, Ph.D., professor of history and director of King University’s Institute for Faith and Culture. “When he arrived in Bristol in 1961, he assumed it would be a short stop on his way to a larger ministry in a larger city, but he felt God’s call to stay here to be a beacon for the African-American community and to work for the building of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the ‘beloved community.’ He has lived a life of selflessness and care for others, and it is our honor to recognize his lifetime of service.”

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

Trio of Servant Leaders Receive Sullivan Awards at Queens University of Charlotte

Known for her strong sense of integrity, conviction and passion, Queens University of Charlotte senior Sydney Stepney has excelled both inside and outside of the classroom. Her excellent character and commitment to humanitarian service has also earned her the 2021 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens.

Since 1948, Queens has selected individuals to receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for excellence of character and humanitarian service. Two awards are typically presented to recognize and honor a member of the graduating class, as well as a person or couple affiliated with the university who represent the highest ideals of both the university and society.

Judy and Paul Leonard were this year’s community recipients.

Related: How Sullivan Award recipient Issy Rushton guided her University of South Carolina campus through the pandemic

During her time at Queens, Stepney served as a resident assistant and then as head resident assistant during her junior and senior years. Her exemplary service and leadership in those roles led her to receive the 2020 Resident Assistant of the Year Award. Additionally, she tutored peers through the Roadmap Scholar program and served as a mentor through the L.E.A.D. (Learn, Empower, Act, Diversify) mentoring program and Transition to University (T2U) program.

An active member of the Black Student Union, she became one of the inaugural Racial Justice Fellows for the Charlotte Racial Justice Consortium. This group was charged with examining the city’s history with race and equality and leading healing projects in the community.

She was also a Charlotte AHEC Public Health Scholar, where she worked to improve the diversity of health professions and to support health system transformations across the state.

Stepney has received a full scholarship to Ohio State University’s Masters in Healthcare Administration program, where she will continue pursuing her goal to provide leadership that bridges the gap between health literacy and health equity.

this photo shows Judy and Paul Leonard receiving the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens University of Charlotte

Judy and Paul Leonard accept the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Queens University of Charlotte.

The desire to serve and improve the lives of others has been a driving force for Judy and Paul Leonard throughout their lives and exemplifies the Queens motto, “Not to be Served, But to Serve.”

Judy Moore Leonard, a 1967 graduate of Queens, is a nurse by training, and in 1979 she made the first hospice call in Charlotte for Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region. In her 15 years of hospice service, she helped build the foundation for the largest hospice in the Carolinas. Judy has been one of Queens’ most loyal alumni leaders, serving on the Queens Board of Trustees, as president of the Alumni Association Board, and on the Advisory Board of the Presbyterian School of Nursing and Blair College of Health.

Related: Past Sullivan Award recipient Cagney Coomer helps prepare girls of color for careers in science

Paul Leonard’s professional career began in ministry, where he led a non-traditional church that focused on community action and service. While there, Paul helped to organize Charlotte Fair Housing and served as its first president. He later left the traditional ministry to work with a city housing program and was later recruited by the John Crosland Company, where he served for many years in various executive leadership positions. After retiring, he used his extensive experience in the housing industry as a resource for service with Habitat for Humanity International, where he served as chairman of the board.

Judy has also been committed to creating fair housing opportunities for all citizens. She is a past board chair of Habitat Charlotte, and she also organized the first Women Build project for Our Towns Habitat. Together with Paul, she participated in eight Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects and in building efforts on five continents. In 2011, the Leonards were honored with the Habitat Charlotte’s Founders Award for their extraordinary service and commitment to the mission of Habitat.

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