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The University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Suzi Sosa named Senior Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship

July 20th, 2010

Suzi Sosa, President and Founder of the MPOWER Foundation, has been named a Senior Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship at the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Ms. Sosa will be researching and writing about social entrepreneurship, while helping with the RGK Center’s graduate and undergraduate teaching in this area. She will also continue serving as a Final Judge in the Center’s Dell Social Innovation Competition.

RGK Center Director Frumkin notes: “Suzi brings both a deep understanding and practical experience to the table. We are delighted to welcome her to the RGK Center as a fellow, and we are eager to see the contribution to knowledge and teaching she will make in the area social innovation and entrepreneurship.”

One of the first projects Ms. Sosa will undertake is a joint paper with Frumkin on how social entrepreneurs go about choosing amongst nonprofit, for-profit or even hybrid forms for the organizations they create.

The MPOWER Foundation is an independent, charitable organization supported by the MPOWER Group — a socially committed venture capital fund and portfolio of social impact companies dedicated to the financial empowerment of underserved people. With a vision of a world in which all individuals have an opportunity to participate freely in markets and thereby to escape poverty and disenfranchisement, the MPOWER Foundation funds and operates nonprofit programs, catalyzes strategic public/private and non-profit/private partnerships, and provides an independent forum for the creation and dissemination of ideas that empower the underserved.

Among its programs, the MPOWER Foundation has launched The Empowerment Lab at Harvard University, a cutting-edge applied research center focused on “Trillion Dollar Problems” affecting the underserved, and RISE, a not-for-profit global entrepreneurship program that connects, empowers, and inspires entrepreneurs.

“Our belief is that there is a methodology that can be used to find, vet, and launch socially entrepreneurial ideas, and that by providing budding social entrepreneurs with that framework we can both accelerate the progress and increase the likelihood of success of those ambitious endeavors,” Sosa said.

Previously, Ms. Sosa served as an economic development specialist in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and as a special advisor to the Prime Ministers of Lebanon and Bermuda. Her areas of expertise include: economic development, social entrepreneurship, and impact investing. She has a Masters in Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a B.A. in Plan II from The University of Texas at Austin.

Net Impact McCombs’ Board Fellows Program

July 7th, 2010

This July, Net Impact McCombs is launching the Board Fellows program in which students serve on the board of directors of local nonprofits in a non-voting capacity, attend meetings, serve on committee(s), and complete a Board-level strategic project. MBA students learn about Board governance, the realities of operations of nonprofits, and get to apply their business skills to serve the community, while the nonprofit benefits from a fresh perspective and gains the business insights of an MBA student.

WHAT IS BOARD FELLOWS

McCombs Board Fellows was launched in 2010 as an initiative of McCombs’ Net Impact chapter. Both the club and this program are chapters of Net Impact, a national organization for socially-minded business people.  This program places MBA students on the boards of directors of local partner nonprofit organizations as non-voting board members for one year. The purpose of the program is to give talented and committed business students the opportunity to work with and learn from nonprofit leaders, while contributing their time and business skills to benefit the local community.  After Board Fellows are selected through a rigorous application process, they are matched with a partner nonprofit whose needs and mission align with the Fellow’s skills and interests. The nonprofit then assigns the Fellow to a board committee and a mentor. Board Fellows are expected to participate in all board meetings and complete a project specific to the needs or challenges facing their partner organization.

The MBA class of 2011 is currently launching this program at McCombs.  Members of this class will serve on local boards from September 2010 – May 2011 when they will graduate from UT.  All future classes (including this fall’s incoming students) will serve on a calendar-year cycle.  They will apply and be matched in the fall, and will serve from January – December.  When you apply, you will be able to choose when you’d like your Fellow to start: September, January, both periods, or either time.

ORGANIZATION REQUIREMENTS

The national Net Impact organization recommends the following guidelines for a Board Fellows partner organization, and is obligated to share this information with you.  Since the program is new to McCombs, the focus will be more on the student/organization match than on strict guidelines. They are flexible in their selection and matching process and encourage ALL organizations to apply.  Please be assured that a good student match, enthusiasm, and commitment to the program will outweigh these criteria.

  • Nonprofit (501(c)3) status  (STRICTLY REQUIRED)
  • An operating history of at least one year
  • An annual budget of at least $350,000
  • A minimum of 3 full-time staff members
  • Have a board member willing to serve as a mentor (STRICTLY REQUIRED)

As long as you are confident that someone at your organization could be available enough to facilitate a positive student experience (provide mentorship and needed information/data for their project in a timely manner, etc), you are encouraged to apply.

STUDENT EXPECTATIONS

  • Attend all board meetings and relevant committee meetings for their organization
  • Attend monthly seminars at McCombs to learn more about the nonprofit sector and corporate governance
  • Commit at least 10 hours of work per month to a special project for their organization’s board

HOW TO APPLY

Complete the online form here:  http://bit.ly/aDxwks
Ideally, students and organizations will be matched in early August so they can begin work upon returning to school.

To complete the form, you will need:

  • Mission statement (or summary of your organization’s work)
  • Proposed project for the Fellow to undertake
  • Name of the project coordinator (a full time staff member at your organization who will collaborate with the Fellow on the project)
  • Name of the board member who will serve as a mentor for the Fellow

Free eBook Download: Strategic Volunteer Engagement Guide

June 7th, 2010

For a limited time, we are offering a free download of Strategic Volunteer Engagement: A Guide for Nonprofit and Public Sector Leaders.

Developed through a research project funded by the Volunteer Impact Fund and published through a gift from the OneStar Foundation, Strategic Volunteer Engagement provides a strategic framework and offers critical management directives for working effectively with both skill-oriented and mission-focused volunteers serving on either a long term and episodic basis.

While executive directors of nonprofit organizations have grown accustomed to seeing their roles defined in terms of leveraging tight resources, maximizing community engagement, and advancing organizational growth and development, too few have made the connection between those goals and creating an effective system for volunteer engagement. The Guide offers a framework and guidance for executive directors interested in engaging volunteers to reach strategic goals in their organizations.

Download a free copy of the Guide here. Registration required.

New Book from Peter Frumkin

May 25th, 2010

And the winner is…

May 6th, 2010

Congratulations to Shining Hope for Communities! Not only did they win the $50,000 Grand Prize, but they also took home the People’s Choice Award at last night’s Final Event.

Thank you to everyone that attended! And congratulations to all three finalist teams for putting together such amazing projects and presentations. I know it was a tough decision for our judges.

Brisket. Peach Cobbler. The United Way Case Study. Longhorns.

April 27th, 2010

Dear Reader:

I know what you are thinking, ‘What on Earth do all of these things have to do with one another?!’ Answer: They have all been an integral part of what has been a most amazing DCSCS exchange experience here at the University of Austin!

While all wonderful in their own way, I did come here – first and foremost – to gain practical experience in the nonprofit management sector. My group, ‘Team United’ (Yes Reader, this IS an original name!!) has been tasked with looking particularly at the ‘President’s Cabinet’ of United Way Capital Area (Austin). The group serves as something akin to an ‘internal advisory board’, comprised of approximately 14 skilled volunteers from a cross-section of the community. They have come together to advise the organization’s Executive Director on a wide array of issues, ranging from public relations strategies to fiscal management. After spending hours interviewing members of the organization, Team United is in the midst of perfecting our second case study draft. The process can be challenging and tedious at times, but we are really beginning to see the fruits of our labour come together!

We have also begun brainstorming ideas for the accompanying Teaching Notes, in addition to structuring a lesson that will really bring out the key management issues that we are focusing on: transitional leadership and managing skilled volunteers. The entire experience so far has really been an unparalleled opportunity to not only gain theoretical knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector, but to get some ‘hands-on’ experience that I am confident will serve me well in my future.

With only 3 weeks left, I will leave Austin with a heavy heart (and a heavy suitcase – so much BBQ sauce to bring back!!). I feel invigorated, inspired, and much more confident in my abilities and understanding of this challenging but rewarding sector. I am curious to see what the future holds, but I will always look for ways to come back to Austin.

Cheers,
Tatiana

Who will win $50,000?

April 26th, 2010

DCSCS and Team Awesome

April 12th, 2010

The semester is wrapping up soon and so are our courses – it’s time to submit final papers, give presentations, and write our last memos. Two days ago, I was part of a presentation in one of the most enjoyable courses in my life, a LBJ class taught by a practitioner named Kevin Bacon. Guess what the topic of the presentation was? DCSCS!

Why did I want to study DCSCS? The topic was enticing because I am really thankful to be here through the DCSCS program, and I want more students to enjoy this type of remarkable experience. Although I am 28 years old and married, I have been learning new things every day. I cannot tell you how much DCSCS has expanded my horizons and how rewarding it is.

Moira, our DCSCS program coordinator, was an amazing help for my presentation team (we called ourselves Team Awesome) throughout the semester while we were researching DCSCS. She always helped us with a warm smile and generosity, as all Texans do. She provided us with all the information we needed and always came to our rescue when we needed help. The focus of our project was analyzing the application process for the inbound exchange students at LBJ School of Public Affairs. To help streamline the process, we created a logic model, a cross-functional process flowchart, and made recommendations for the program. The great thing about our research is that it can be applied to any other program where the RGK Center or the LBJ School brings in exchange students.

To make our presentation entertaining, we invited a hypothetical person who we called “Jack.” Jack walked the class through the issues in the application process and made recommendations that basically focused on increasing the visibility and scope of DCSCS. The idea of personalizing the process was really enjoyable to the rest of the class. After class, I forwarded our team memo and presentation to Moira. And guess what? She will use our work in her future presentations. YES! Team Awesome got what it wanted. ☺

Love from lively Austin,
Engy

Team Awesome (L to R): Professor Kevin Bacon, Avinash, Laura, Engy, and John

The Value of Case Studies

April 5th, 2010

With five weeks left in our semester, school is kicking into high gear here in Austin. The readings are thick as usual, we’re writing a memo on fundraising for our nonprofit strategy class, and some of us have final essays and exams to prepare for in our elective courses, but the thing on all of our minds is our case study. All the interviewing, reading, and discussing of the last two months is wrapping up, and it’s time to decide on a storyline and get it down on paper. Our first draft is due in less than a week.

Since January, we’ve been using other case studies – some from the Electronic Hallway that we’re hoping to submit ours to – for both of our nonprofit courses, and they are consistently my favourite part of the week’s readings. They provide an engaging story, a window into the operations of a real-life organization, and an interesting issue worth some serious consideration. As an anthropologist, I appreciate their ability to teach not by pushing dry theory and making blanket statements, but through letting students pull general lessons out of the rich complexity, personalities, and nuance of a single situation. As a busy student, I appreciate that they manage to do all of this in 5-10 pages ̶ short and sweet.

Now that we are trying to write our own, I have a whole new level respect for the case study model, and for the authors of the cases we’ve enjoyed reading up to now. A writing coach who visited our class yesterday aptly summarized: we’re not just students writing a research paper anymore, we need to be hard-nosed reporters to create a strong and synthesized presentation of the facts, master story-tellers to shape a strong and illuminating narrative, and creative ethnographers to bring it all alive with engaging details and subtle texture. I know that, between us, our group has the skills and experience to do this, but the closer we get to the end, the more I realize how difficult it is to bring all our ideas and energy together to create one succinct, cohesive, whole – and most importantly, finished – case study. I’m not sure how we’ll do it, but it will have taken shape by next Wednesday, and done by the 27th. It will definitely be something to be proud of!

Cheers,
Dana

The Impact of DCSCS

March 29th, 2010

All the people involved in the program are great. We spend our time learning, researching, and having fun. I would like to thank Moira Porter, our program coordinator, because she has helped me since the moment I began planning my arrival in Austin, and she continues to do so.

I understand that the United States has the biggest nonprofit sector around the world, but living it through our case studies really makes me understand that the sector is a way of life, which involves millions of lives daily. In my case study, Seton Hospital and its volunteer program, the people with whom we are working give us information freely and expect that we can contribute to their organization in some way. It’s exciting to be involved.

We have also been able to have a sense of community here in Austin, through our living situations, through being students at UT, and through our work with local nonprofits. All of the exchange students in the program live in co-ops, which give us the opportunity to share and interact with interesting people all the time. Also, we are learning from our great professors, who have varied and impressive academic and professional backgrounds. Finally, being in contact with one nonprofit organization has really motivated me to contribute to the nonprofit community here or in my country (Mexico). It could sound like a political slogan, but it’s true that “people make the difference.”

I know that all of my fellow DCSCS students have enjoyed Austin like I have and that we all plan to share our experiences when we return to our home countries. I want to motivate my classmates in Mexico and other students to get involved in this program and also contribute in some way to strengthen the nonprofit sector in Mexico. Actually, my original intention was to contribute through research and studying the sector, but I think now it should be more active. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this DCSCS experience takes me in my work – it has definitely made a big impact.

Cheers,
Carlos