College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Undergraduate Affairs Wins Civic Commitment Grant


The Office of Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Business has won a $5,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Task Force on Civic Commitment in the 21st Century to help fund the startup of its Social Entrepreneurship Summer Institute (SESI).  SESI is a summer program that will educate students, through service learning, about civic engagement and societal needs.  At the same time, the institute will provide community organizations with training on basic business concepts, in an effort to help these organizations to function more effectively while grappling with limited resources.   The institute will also help community organizations to explore whether a “social entrepreneurship” enterprise, creating a for-profit venture to sustain their non-profit’s organization and mission, is right for them.  

The institute has two major components.  The first component is an intensive summer training program that will meet once a week for four weeks in early summer.  Ten community organizations will be admitted to participate in the summer program and will be exposed to curriculum including, but not limited to, how to develop a marketing plan, fundraising for non-profits, strategic planning, and human resource management.  In addition, the organizations will be guided in the development of a business plan for a possible social entrepreneurship venture.

On the first day of the institute, the community organizations will be assigned a three-person student intern team to help the organization integrate these ideas into their operation.  The student interns will go through a one-day training session prior to the start of the SESI on service learning and customer service skills.  They will also be assigned to their teams during this training session and given an opportunity to bond with their fellow team members.  The student teams will be comprised of students with different business majors and skills sets to provide community organizations with a broad range of skills.  The student teams will stay with the organization for four more weeks after SESI has ended to continue the process of integrating business concepts taught at the institute into the day-to-day operations of the community organizations.  The students will also help these organizations move forward on plans for a social entrepreneurship enterprise, if the organizations feel such an enterprise is feasible at the end of the business plan exercise.

With regard to the student participants, the central goal of the institute is to teach students, through service learning, about community needs and civic engagement.  Through service learning and faculty mentorship, SESI hopes to educate students about community problems, how to use what they have been taught in the College of Business for purposes of civic engagement and about their moral obligation to give back to the community.

SESI will also serve a research function.  It will allow researchers to study a number of potential research questions including the impact of such a program on student’s perceptions of and commitment to civic engagement, the impact of student’s civic engagement on the health of community organizations, the impact of business principles on the effective operation of community organizations, to monitor the burgeoning movement towards social entrepreneurship, and whether businesses can improve their own performance by learning from community organizations.

The institute is a program that will be hosted by the College of Business Office of Undergraduate Affairs in partnership with several institutional partners (Illinois Business Consulting, Business Career Services, members of the College of Business faculty and the Office of Volunteer Programs) and a community partner (the United Way).  Students and community organizations wishing to participate or know more about the Social Entrepreneurship Summer Institute should contact Assistant Dean Collette Niland by email at or by phone at 217-333-2740.

UIUC College of Business