Inspired Students Launch a Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter
Net Impact is an international organization for students interested in using the power of business to “tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems.” Since 2006, the Arrupe Center has been advising and supporting a graduate chapter of Net Impact. Sparked by students in the new undergraduate Leadership, Ethics, and Organizational Sustainability (LEO) program, a vibrant and growing undergraduate chapter now flourishes.
Dr. David Steingard, Associate Director of the Arrupe Center and faculty advisor to Net Impact, comments on the transition: “Maintaining consistency and momentum at the graduate level of Net Impact has been challenging. Part-time and online graduate students are pretty well consumed with school, work, and for many, raising families. However, the undergraduate chapter now invites interested graduate students to participate—and they do!”
To commence the journey of building a successful undergraduate chapter, students and staff immersed themselves in the heart of Net Impact’s inspired community. The Arrupe Center sponsored Danielle Myers (LEO, ’13), Ryan Musso (LEO ’14), and Vivian Castillo, administrative assistant for the Arrupe Center, to attend the October 2012 Net Impact conference in Baltimore with more than 2,500 engaged participants from around the world.
Soon after the conference, the Saint Joseph’s University chapter was formed, consisting of thirteen leadership positions and an additional thirteen committee members. Musso and Myers are undergraduate co-presidents while Mariana Da Silva (MBA, ’13) and Udom Umoh (MBA, ’15) hold the graduate student liaison positions designed to help recruit and retain graduate students to Net Impact. “This sizable group of enthusiastic and capable students is putting Ignation values into action—‘going forth and setting the world [of business] on fire,’” reflects Dr. Steingard.
In the relatively short time the chapter has been up and running, Net Impact members have been abuzz with exciting activities. Here is a sampling of programming:
Ten Net Impact students attended the Tempus Social Entrepreneurship Conference. For some students, this was their first time attending a conference, affording them an opportunity to meet successful social entrepreneurs in the area and learn how Net Impact’s values manifest in business.
Net Impact and the Arrupe Center cosponsored the following on-campus lectures and events:
- Social Entrepreneurship in the Developing World where Michael Mungai (ECON, PHL, MIM, ’13), a former destitute street boy in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke about his entrepreneurship and humanitarian efforts in Africa.
- Creating Social Value: Doing Well While Doing Good moderated by Arrupe Fellow and Marketing Professor, Dr. Diane Phillips. The panel discussion featured three speakers: Judy Wicks, founder of White Dog Café and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia; Jennifer Powell-Folks, program director for Giving of Self Partnership; and Michael McCann, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of biology.
- How Living Wage Apparel Changes Lives where Rachel Taber from Alta Gracia spoke about how the company manufactures living wage, sweatshop-free apparel whose products are available for purchase in the Saint Joseph’s University bookstore.
- Net Impact graduate students hosted a student Social Networking Night in order to recruit new members and build community among current members.
- The chapter volunteered for a day of service through Saint Joseph’s University’s Global Community Day, participated in a volleyball fundraiser to raise awareness about fair trade issues and to support Los Quinchos, a non-profit organization in Nicaragua, and attended a Fair Trade and Food Justice Lecture cosponsored by the Arrupe Center.
In addition to the events mentioned above, students are working in small teams researching the possibilities of using waste-converted biodiesel to power on-campus shuttles and converting kinetic energy from exercise machines at Saint Joseph’s University fitness centers into eco-friendly electricity.
Dr. Steingard concludes: “I am very proud of Net Impact’s successful launch and its promising future. I want to thank our Net Impact students for this exceptional integration of ethics into their educational experiences here at Saint Joseph’s University.”
To learn about upcoming events or how to get involved, you can follow Saint Joseph’s University Net Impact on Facebook.