Posts

Jonathan Molai: “My Life Was Forever Changed” by Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreats

By Jonathan Molai

Sullivan alumnus Jonathan Molai, a May 2019 graduate of Campbell University, writes about his life-changing experiences with the Ignite Retreat, a twice-yearly event for college students with a passion for creating social change. The next Ignite Retreat takes place March 27-29, 2020, in Wake Forest, N.C. Deadline to register is Wednesday, March 11. Click here to learn more about the next Ignite Retreat and to sign up to attend.

The 2019 Spring Ignite Retreat was an entirely wholesome experience that caused me to deeply appreciate the fruits which can be cultivated if young people who genuinely care collectively focus on emotional intelligence and personal development. Taking place in an environment where social discourse could safely occur amidst strangers, the Ignite Retreat allowed for a unique type of transparency to manifest among the group, where vulnerabilities could be shed, and a purely personal focus on growth could emerge from every interaction.

It was evident that the facilitators functioned as a seamless team, even in moments that may have been completely improvised. The facilitators were exceptional in weaving the network of narratives and motifs, which served to enhance both the individual and group experience.

Meet the Ignite Retreat facilitators: Jarren Small of Reading With a Rapper teaches ELA skills through hip-hop lyrics

Furthermore, the engagement tools, cards, and teambuilding materials were highly effective for promoting discussion about ideas and topics that students cared about. The changemaking field guide proved to be useful in allowing me to document my experience in a way that preserved the original framework of the message and to remember the important points even after the retreat.

Jonathan Molai at the Sullivan Foundation's Ignite Retreat

Jonathan Molai (Photo by Amber Merklinger, Amber Faith Photography)

The exercises and techniques employed at the Ignite Retreat were very well thought out while fostering excitement and reflection simultaneously. Perhaps it was sheer awe at how such activities were successfully executed among such a large group, but it was clear to many who attended the retreat that these workshops and exercises served a purpose far greater than to stimulate the creative pathways of problem-solving and innovation. The Ignite Retreat demonstrated unapologetic and honest empowerment of the youth by unlocking the passions and curiosities of both extroverts and introverts alike. It was truly amazing to see how much each individual had grown by the end of the retreat, whether it was the satisfaction of having clear goals, the appreciation of collaborating with like-minded individuals, or the increased comfort with one’s own sense of self. These activities and interactions, balanced with time for reflection and recreation, brought both students and facilitators together in a way that felt like family.

Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Reagan Pugh of Assemble builds connections through storytelling

Choosing My Own Path
It was crucial that I had the ability to choose my own path throughout my adventure in social entrepreneurship and the freedom to change my track to best reach my goals. The ability to engage autonomously in a learning experience and create what I wanted from it allowed me to appreciate the inherent freedoms and responsibilities that come with changemaking. In this way, there were several memorable concepts that resonated with me, especially the “Connection Before Content” exercise that occurred Saturday morning before the workshops began. This exercise, following the message on the importance of “being present,” allowed me to fully interact with someone I had never met in a way that yielded some of the most valuable personal feedback on first impressions and relationship building that I’ve ever received. It really helped set the tone for the workshops, as it left me and other students excited to follow our curiosity.

Jonathan Molai takes part in a Sullivan Foundation Ignite Retreat activity

Jonathan Molai became a Sullivan Foundation Student Ambassador after attending multiple Ignite Retreats and social entrepreneurship field trips. (Photo by Amber Merklinger, Amber Faith Photography)

I personally chose to engage with the Project track and then switch to the Personal track later in the day. The Project track helped me clearly define and classify parameters of a social initiative I have been working with through the creation of a vision board that will serve to guide my team in addressing the project’s strengths and needs. The Personal track allowed me to embark on an immensely valuable part of my adventure at the Ignite Retreat via the Deep Listening exercise. I have always wanted to become a better listener, but I had constantly struggled in futility until I found this workshop at the Ignite Retreat. After the exercise in deep listening, my life was forever changed regarding the approaches I took towards allowing comfortable silences to function and manifest in my conversations. It not only allowed me to become a better listener but also showed me the unique perspectives I had previously missed out on by carving out and steering conversations with interjections. In effect, the exercise significantly helped me communicate with others so that they could be heard and feel more connected to what I had to say.

Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Love Girls magazine founder Jasmine Babers shines spotlight on “everyday girls”

In its ability to develop both hard and soft skills pertaining to social entrepreneurship, the Ignite Retreat kindled my passion and curiosity for both the subjects at hand and myself even more than I had ever anticipated. I deeply appreciate the students, exercises, and facilitators of the 2019 Spring Ignite Retreat, as they laid the foundation and helped reconstruct the framework for lifelong personal growth in such a short period of time. Such an immensely valuable experience is rare, and I credit the Sullivan Foundation for their contribution to my most valuable possession: my manifestation.

Jonathan Molai received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Sullivan Foundation partner school Campbell University (CU) in May 2019. He attended multiple Ignite Retreats while attending CU and served as a Sullivan Ambassador. He plans to attend medical school and become an Osteopathic Primary Care Physician with the goal of effecting both individual and policy-level population change within the healthcare delivery systems of rural America.

Jonathan Molai and Michelle Vazquez at a Sullivan Ignite Retreat event

Jonathan Molai and fellow Ignite Retreat attendee Michelle Vazquez (Photo by Amber Merklinger, Amber Faith Photography)

 

Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Reagan Pugh Builds Connections Through Storytelling

As co-founder of Assemble, Reagan Pugh, a facilitator at the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat, delivers workshops and keynote speeches on personal effectiveness and leadership development around the country. Prior to the launch of Assemble, Pugh was Chief Storyteller for the innovation consulting firm, Kalypso, and guided initiatives on storytelling, culture and leadership development at companies like Nike, Pepsico and Kimberly Clark. He has designed leadership courses for Texas State University, Trinity University and Angelo State University.

Pugh is making a return appearance as a facilitator for the next Ignite Retreat, which takes place March 27-29 in Wake Forest, N.C. The weekend-long changemaking event features workshops, speakers and activities for college students with a strong interest in creating positive social impact and solving problems through social entrepreneurship. The deadline to register for the Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat is March 11. Click here to sign up or learn more about the Ignite Retreat.

a headshot of Ignite Retreat facilitator Reagan Pugh

Reagan Pugh

In his responses to our emailed questions, Pugh proved why he’s renowned as a master storyteller, communicator and motivator. So we decided to let him tell his story in his own words in the following Q&A: 

Q: Reagan, can you explain Assemble’s mission and how you accomplish it?

Reagan Pugh: Assemble designs workshops to help teams collaborate better together. This could look like strategy meetings, yearly reviews, weekend retreats or brainstorming sessions. We operate under the belief that the answers to an organization’s greatest challenges are locked inside their people. We help them work together differently so those answers can bubble to the surface.

Q: I know you’ve said in the past that more intensity isn’t necessarily what we need to accomplish our goals. We need more clarity. What do you mean by that?

Pugh: When facing challenges or working toward our goals, it’s easy to believe we’ll make the most progress by upping the intensity (working longer, working faster and adding more to our plate). The reality is, intensity is for amateurs. Clarity is what allows us to understand what matters most, take consequential actions, and make the meaningful contribution we were meant to make.

Related: Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Jarren Small teaches ELA skills through hip-hop

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put in long hours and give 100%. It means when we do our work, we don’t believe the outcome of our work will determine our worth or happiness.

When we default to intensity, it’s normally because we’re afraid of what happens when we slow down and listen to what we’re really meant to do. It’s countercultural to instead pursue clarity in order to move slowly and with intention, but those who do are more equipped to deliver a gift through their venture or idea.

In an age of endless choices, it’s fun to try and keep up, but it’s those who can put on the blinders and identify the most important things in front of them who actually ship things into the world without getting burned out.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about your work as a storytelling consultant? And what kind of storytelling do you do?

Pugh: When an individual or organization asks for help telling their story, what we’re really talking about is understanding their audience. Every marketer these days will tell you about the importance of stories, but most completely miss the mark.

Simply having a story that you tell during a speech, a pitch or on your website doesn’t translate to more engagement or sales. The best leaders and organizations know stories aren’t about entertainment or even engagement—they are about connection. And in order for us to connect, we come back again to the necessity of clarity.

Whether I’m coaching someone on a keynote speech they are giving or guiding an organization on how to tell their story, we always go back to the same place: their desired audience. When we do the work of understanding the desires and fears of the people we wish to serve, we can then use stories as a powerful tool to catch their attention, assure them they’re not alone and invite them on a journey with us toward their desired future.

Related: Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Love Girls magazine founder Jasmine Babers shines a spotlight on “everyday girls”

Q: Why is storytelling so important in the nonprofit and/or entrepreneurial cultures today?

Pugh: Storytelling is about connection. Robert McKee has a good line about the power of story: “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”

They are the currency of human contact. Stories are how we trade value and express needs. Stories are how we reveal what matters to us and what we want.

Consumers want to feel like organizations and brands are speaking directly to them. The entrepreneur who takes the time to deeply understand a specific audience and create stories for them will be able to build a venture that serves them and hopefully makes some cash.

photo of Reagan Pugh at the Three Circle Summit

Reagan Pugh, co-founder of Assemble, has guided initiatives on storytelling, culture and leadership development at companies like Nike, Pepsico and Kimberly Clark.

Q: So tell us about the role you’ll be playing in the Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat?

Pugh: I’ll be leading the Problem Track series of workshops designed for those who know they want to build something but need a bit more clarity around the “what” behind their entrepreneurial pursuit.

The first session is “Unlocking Creativity,” where we’ll take a look at the problem students want to solve and help them ideate ways they might solve it. Could it be a hair salon or a drone business or a YouTube show? Who knows? Sometimes it’s hard to see things differently if you’ve been thinking about a problem the same way for a while. The “Unlocking Creativity” session will help students better articulate the problem they want to solve and generate innovative ideas on how they might solve it.

The second session is “Grow Your Team,” and it’s about enlisting people in your cause. The problem we want to solve will only turn into a viable venture if we create something others can say “yes” to. We’ll explore who is currently part of the students’ network, who should be, what roles they need to fill, and help them craft messaging to excite others about taking part in bringing their vision to life.

Q: In the end, what are you hoping our Ignite attendees will learn from you?

Pugh: They have what it takes to live a life of meaning and to make a valuable contribution to this world.

Learn more about Reagan Pugh and his work at reaganpugh.com.

Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Love Girls Magazine Founder Jasmine Babers Shines Spotlight on “Everyday Girls”

It’s not easy to launch a magazine from scratch, and it’s certainly not cheap. Even most seasoned professional journalists would shy away from the challenge without backing from an investor with deep pockets and plenty of patience. But Jasmine Babers did it anyway and made it work—and she was just 15 at the time.

Babers, a facilitator at the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Ignite Retreat for college students, started Love Girls magazine when she was still attending Rock Island High School in Rock Island, Ill. Available in both print and digital formats, Love Girls is a nonprofit publication with a mission to “build self-esteem by providing young women leadership opportunities and a safe place to tell their stories.”

Related: Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Jarren Small teaches ELA skills through hip-hop

Babers, who graduated from the University of Chicago at Illinois in December 2018, will lead a workshop and inspire fellow changemakers at the Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat, taking place March 27-29, in Wake Forest, N.C.  Held twice a year, the Ignite Retreat brings together a team of facilitators, coaches and conspirators who lead college students on a journey to discover how they can change the world in a positive way, whether through social entrepreneurship, the nonprofit sector or public policy leadership, among many possibilities. The deadline to register for the Spring 2020 Ignite Retreat is Wednesday, March 11. Click here to learn more about the Ignite Retreat and to register.

Love Girls magazine tells the stories of “everyday girls,” shining a spotlight on social issues—from depression to bullying—as well as covering makeup and fashion, relationships, celebrity news and other topics that appeal to young women. The magazine’s staff consists entirely of girls and young women, usually between the ages of 13 and 22, and provides hands-on experience in journalism, photography, graphic design, marketing and business management.

Related: Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: How Josh Nadzam outran poverty and now uses art to change kids lives

this is a cover designed by Jasmine Babers for Love Girls magazine

At just 15 years old, Jasmine Babers founded Love Girls magazine in response to rampant cyberbullying at her high school.

“The magazine was born from the desire to create space for girls to talk openly about problems, passions and successes,” Babers recalled. “It was important that this space was created by girls for girls. Cyber-bullying in my high school had reached an all-time high, and girls needed support and a platform to stand up against injustices and uplift one another.”

Determined to make a difference, Babers recruited other female students to help create a magazine that would serve as that platform. “I gathered some girls from school at our local public library and told them my thoughts, and everyone was excited to write and interview and take photos!” she said. “It honestly was a community project from the moment it began, and that’s also a huge reason why it’s been so successful. I could have never dreamt of all this on my own!”

Starting out with a digital-only publication would have been more affordable, but Babers realized there’s still something special about print, even in the age of iPhones and tablets. “We found out quickly that girls love being able to hold their work in their hands and to show family and friends,” she said. “It’s what makes the project so special!”

Related: Meet the Ignite Retreat Facilitators: Reagan Pugh builds connections through storytelling

“So from the beginning we had to fundraise,” Babers continued. “I was really adamant that the magazine needed to look and feel high-quality—from color down to the paper. We sold ads to local businesses at super-discounted rates, and we got grants from amazing non-profits who trusted us. It’s actually kinda remarkable, looking back at how much trust and faith people had in our project from the beginning. I’m so grateful for those supporters!”

Babers also knew from the start that she wanted to spotlight all types of girls, not just homecoming queens and cheerleaders. “One of my favorite things that we pride ourselves on is that anyone can be a cover girl,” she said. “Representation is so necessary and, in that same regard, the understanding that if you’re being the best person you can be and working really, really hard, people will see that and want to celebrate that—regardless of how you look.”

Like any editor or publisher, Babers makes sure to treat her cover subjects like stars. “Shooting the cover is a production and a really special experience for our cover girls,” she said. “We use top-of-the-line photographers, make-up artists and stylists—almost always women—and conduct our shoots like any other editorial magazine. I’m all about the glam and the experience and taking extra care of our cover girls because they deserve it.”

One of Babers’ favorite cover subjects was Carlie Newton, who received a liver transplant at just three months old and still bears a prominent scar from the surgery. Newton works to raise awareness of the lifesaving potential of organ and tissue donation.

this photo shows a classic cover of Love Girls magazine, published by Jasmine Babers

Love Girls magazine founder Jasmine Babers believes in representing all types of girls and women on the publication’s covers.

“Not only does she have an amazing story, but the clouds that day were crazy beautiful in the background and she was showing her scar to the camera,” Babers said. “But she looked so badass that, when I saw the photo for the first time, I knew the heading had to say something about her being a ‘wonder woman’!”

Love Girls also sponsors the annual Love Awards, honoring the contributions of girls and young women in eight categories, and Babers co-hosts Love Girls: the Podcast with the publication’s VP, Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw. Babers considers storytelling and graphic design to be her “superpowers” and also has a passion for politics and urban planning. “Finding a hybrid dream job around those things would be amazing,” she says.

Related: Empowerment Plan employs homeless to make coats for the homeless

Jasmine Babers will be making her second appearance at the Ignite Retreat in March 2020.  “The Ignite Retreat is one of my favorite events of the year!” she said. “It’s so unique in its design around young people who want to make a difference. I always leave inspired, curious and ready to help. I actually remember keynoting at the retreat a few years ago, and that was truly the first time I told my story in its entirety. I talked about the magazine but also growing up in foster care and struggling through my high-functioning anxiety. Afterwards, so many participants came up to me, and we laughed and cried, and they even swag-surfed around me. It was just one of the best experiences of my career so far. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it!”

“This is actually my first time leading a track,” Babers added, “and I’m so excited to be a thought-partner and see how I can help projects develop! I’m going into this experience putting the young people first and being open to listening and learning. I’m super-grounded in the understanding that I have just as much to learn as the participants do. Plus, I recently graduated college so the young people joining us are my peers, so I’m also excited to make some new friends!”

 

 

Sullivan Foundation Offers Study Abroad Adventure in Scotland

Renowned for its ancient castles, murky lochs, windswept moors and, of course, its connection to HBO’s Game of Thrones, Scotland is also a buzzing hive of social entrepreneurship—and a natural destination for the Sullivan Foundation’s next study-abroad program, taking place June 4-July 4, 2020, in historic Edinburgh.

Applications for the Study Abroad in Scotland program must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2020. Selected candidates will be notified on Feb. 7, and a $500 deposit is due by Feb. 15.

The program is a partnership between the Sullivan Foundation and Philadelphia-based Arcadia University. Participating students will earn six academic credits that can be applied to their home universities.

this photo illustrates the stunning beauty of Scotland

Participants in the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad in Scotland program will enjoy tours of the country and view breathtaking sites, including the Vennel in Edinburgh. (photo from instagram.com/themodernleper

Students will have the opportunity to meet and learn from successful European social entrepreneurs through field trips across the country, perfect their leadership skills and develop unique initiatives that will strengthen the social ventures they encounter throughout the month.

They will also explore concepts critical to driving social impact and innovation, including:

  • Leadership in practice
  • Effective community engagement and assessment
  • Principles of social entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Storytelling and communicating for change

Two courses will be offered during the program:

Course 1: Leadership by Design—This course provides a basic introduction to leadership, focusing on the practice of leadership and what it means to be a good leader. Students will also learn how to execute technical and conceptual skills in changing organizational, community, political, social and global settings.

Course 2: Social Change in Action—In this course, students will learn about the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation and begin to develop their own capacities to innovate and implement impactful, sustainable and scalable solutions to social problems. Additionally, each student will develop an original blueprint for social innovation and change while working with local partners and enterprises. Participants also will learn how to use storytelling and communications techniques for presenting their plans to key stakeholders.

Students will live in co-ed shared flats at the University of Edinburgh during the month-long program. Classes will be held from 9 a.m.-12 noon Mondays through Thursdays.

To learn more about the Study Abroad in Scotland program or to apply, click here.

Kayla Harris Wins Business Pitch Competition With Computer Game for Personal Finances

Few things in life are more important than keeping track of your finances—and few things are more boring to restless young minds. Kayla Harris, a sophomore at Sullivan Foundation partner school Mary Baldwin University, has an idea for teaching personal finance skills through a computer game that will engage students’ creativity and imagination. Her idea and pitching skills won the grand prize of $300 in a business pitch competition at the Sullivan Foundation’s Fall 2019 Ignite Retreat in Asheville, N.C. last month.

Harris, a native of North Chesterfield, Virginia, majors in business management and double-minors in human resources management and economics at MBU. She said she sees a need to “reconstruct the way personal finance and economics are taught in middle school, high schools and colleges.”

Related: Elon University students learn how to “make a mark in the world” at Sullivan Foundation’s Ignite Retreat

“Many courses and classes that teach finances are very informative,” Harris says. “However, it’s a big challenge for students to remember what they’re learning because it’s not being applied to reality.” After all, most kids don’t have any money to manage yet. “As we mature, we face financial challenges that we don’t necessarily know how to solve due to the fact that that connection was never made in personal finance and economic classes,” Harris adds.

this photo shows an Ignite Retreat facilitator prepping students for a business pitch competition

Ignite Retreat facilitator Reagan Pugh walks students through the elements of a successful pitch.

To solve the problem, Harris plans to work with her high school’s STEM class to develop a prototype for a computer game “that allows students to play out these financial challenges in real-world situations and learn from it. Think something like ‘The Sims’ meets credit scores, taxes and budgeting.”

About a dozen student presenters participated in the business pitch competition, with the other Ignite Retreat student attendees casting votes to choose the winner. Students who judged the contest walked from booth to booth and listened to the pitches. “The goal was to encourage the presenters to go out of their way to recruit people to their project rather than expect everyone to passively listen to their short pitch,” said Ignite Retreat organizer Spud Marshall. “Part of the goal, in addition to pitching, is to get them to think about creative community building.”

Related: Sullivan Foundation offers study-abroad program in Scotland for Summer 2020

“We asked [the student judges] to prioritize projects that were going to make the best use of ‘prototype funds,’ meaning they could produce something tangible with just a few hundred dollars rather than requiring thousands,” Marshall added.

Winning the business pitch competition was just part of an important learning experience for Harris. “I absolutely loved the Ignite Retreat,” she said. “I came in very blind about what the event was about but was open-minded. Starting off, I knew there was an issue [with her business idea] that I wanted to fix, and I knew how I wanted to fix it but just didn’t know how to get started. The retreat definitely gave me the tools necessary to turn my thought into a reality. I was asked questions that I never thought to ask myself about my project. I was showed different angles on how to view the situation I wanted to solve and really was just welcomed and supported at a level I had never felt before.”

Above all, Harris says, she learned to “never give up” on a good idea. “There are thousands of people in the world who want to make an impact on the issue you want to change but feel like they don’t have the ability to. I’m so grateful that the Sullivan Foundation, through the Ignite Retreat, gave me the means necessary [to move forward with the project]. So, I have a lot of people counting on me and rooting for me.”

“My other takeaway,” she added, “was that change is going to be a challenge, but challenge is good. The retreat really helped me understand how to face these challenges and how to create the perfect team to overcome the challenges.”

Related: Selma Community Innovation Immersion Program gives students a chance to work with the poor in Selma, Alabama

Sullivan Foundation Announces Study Abroad in Scotland Program for Summer 2020

Renowned for its ancient castles, murky lochs and windswept moors, Scotland is also a buzzing hive of social entrepreneurship—and a natural destination for the Sullivan Foundation’s next study-abroad program, taking place June 4-July 4, 2020, in historic Edinburgh.

Applications for the Study Abroad in Scotland program must be submitted by Feb. 1, 2020. Selected candidates will be notified on Feb. 7, and a $500 deposit is due by Feb. 15.

The program is a partnership between the Sullivan Foundation and Philadelphia-based Arcadia University. Participating students will earn six academic credits that can be applied to their home universities.

this photo illustrates the stunning beauty of Scotland

Participants in the Sullivan Foundation’s Study Abroad in Scotland program will enjoy tours of the country and view breathtaking sites, including the Vennel in Edinburgh. (photo from instagram.com/themodernleper

Students will have the opportunity to meet and learn from successful European social entrepreneurs through field trips across the country, perfect their leadership skills and develop unique initiatives that will strengthen the social ventures they encounter throughout the month.

They will also explore concepts critical to driving social impact and innovation, including:

  • Leadership in practice
  • Effective community engagement and assessment
  • Principles of social entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Storytelling and communicating for change

Two courses will be offered during the program:

Course 1: Leadership by Design—This course provides a basic introduction to leadership, focusing on the practice of leadership and what it means to be a good leader. Students will also learn how to execute technical and conceptual skills in changing organizational, community, political, social and global settings.

Course 2: Social Change in Action—In this course, students will learn about the emerging field of social entrepreneurship and innovation and begin to develop their own capacities to innovate and implement impactful, sustainable and scalable solutions to social problems. Additionally, each student will develop an original blueprint for social innovation and change while working with local partners and enterprises. Participants also will learn how to use storytelling and communications techniques for presenting their plans to key stakeholders.

Students will live in co-ed shared flats at the University of Edinburgh during the month-long program. Classes will be held from 9 a.m.-12 noon Mondays through Thursdays.

To learn more about the Study Abroad in Scotland program or to apply, click here.

University Students Learn Social Entrepreneurship Skills at Sullivan Foundation’s Upcoming Ignite Retreat

Students from throughout the southeastern United States will meet in Asheville, N.C., October 18-20, to attend the Sullivan Foundation’s social entrepreneurship-focused Ignite Retreat.

Sullivan retreats are designed to immerse students in a series of targeted workshops that help them “ignite” ideas for making positive change in their communities or develop a social business enterprise or event that might solve or alleviate a problem.

this photo conveys the energy of the Ignite Retreat attendees

Ignite Retreat attendees learned how to build social enterprise businesses and made new connections and friends at the Spring 2019 Ignite Retreat.

“The Sullivan Foundation recognizes students and community leaders who have led lives with integrity characterized by service above self and service to their communities. We’ve presented awards each year since 1890 to outstanding students primarily. And since 1934, we have provided scholarships to deserving students,” said Steve McDavid, the Foundation’s president. “In 2008, we added focused programming, including the Ignite events, to foster social enterprise activities.”

Related: View a photo gallery of the Spring 2019 Ignite Retreat

Students interested in the Ignite Retreat may attend a series of workshops and activities and connect with many socially conscious, like-minded individuals from throughout the southeast and beyond. They may also choose from three educational programming tracks for the weekend based on whether they are just beginning their social entrepreneurial journey, have a set of social challenges they would like to learn how to address now, or have a specific social venture they would like to bring to life.

this photo depicts a self-empowered yoga instructor who will facilitate workshops at the Sullivan Foundation's Ignite Retreat

Ajax Jackson, founder of Magnolia Yoga in New Orleans, says that once you can get your body into an open and flexible, you can do the same with your mind.

Students can also pitch their projects to experienced social entrepreneurs, gain access to and get feedback from Sullivan Award alumni, and receive access to Sullivan scholarship funding.

Spud Marshall, founder of the co.space and innovation director at 3 Dots, will lead the Fall Ignite Retreat, along with Harrison Wood, program coordinator for the Teach For America Graduate Fellows Program. The event also will feature an impressive roster of dynamic, experienced facilitators, coaches, innovators and social entrepreneurs, including:

Holley Murchison, founder and CEO of Oratory Glory and founding partner of HOLI. Brands

Crystal Dreisbach, founder of GreenToGo and executive director of Don’t Waste Durham

Ajax Jackson, founder of Magnolia Yoga

Abhinav Khanal, co-founder of Bean Voyage

Reagan Pugh, founding partner of Assemble

Tessa Zimmerman, founder of ASSET Education

Chad Littlefield, founder of WE!

Interested students may purchase tickets for the Ignite Retreat until October 2. General admission is $425. However, a select group of students from the 70-plus Sullivan Network Schools may be eligible to receive a sponsored ticket. Meals and housing are included with admission.

this photo shows that Crystal Dreisbach is a social innovator with a unique product

Crystal Dreisbach, founder of GreenToGo in Durham, North Carolina, is also leading a campaign to reduce single-use plastic in the city.

For further information go to www.sullivanfdn.org/events or call 662-236-6335. To register go to www.sullivanfdn.org/ignite/#tickets.  You may also e-mail questions regarding the events to admin@sullivanfdn.org.

Related: Ignite Retreat speaker leads charge to reduce plastic waste in Durham, N.C.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation was founded in 1934, but its roots date back 60 years earlier when U.S. President Grover Cleveland and a group of other influential persons created the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to honor those that inspire a life of integrity and service. Sullivan Awards have been presented to people whose lives of service have changed the world with little fanfare as well as those who have become household names – recipients include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, to name a few.

this photo shows the fun energy that Chad Littlefield brings to his Ignite Retreat presentations

Team-building expert Chad Littlefield of We! helps groups of people engage in conversations that matter. (Photo by Amber Merklinger, Amber Faith Photography)