Jumping Straight In

A dry-erase board covered in student ideas, written on Sticky Notes.

Colorful sticky notes are being passed from hand to hand, from hand to board. Each one represents an idea, pumped out from the depth of our brain juices. “Thirty seconds left!” the moderator yelled. More frantic writing ensues, different colored sticky notes flying more rapidly around the room as we try to match an idea with a problem bucket.

It was Tuesday night in the CEID (the coolest building on campus, in my opinion), and I am helping host an ideas generating workshop titled the “Million Dollar Idea Workshop.” This year, I am working with a couple of other Net Impact members to organize the first ever Hult Prize at Yale.

Net Impact is a super cool organization focused on social entrepreneurship on campus with a focus on horizontal leadership, empowering members to lead their own projects. The Hult Prize, sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative, is a competition for university students in which the participants create a social enterprise model to solve a global issue and present their ideas in a 5-minute pitch to vie for seed funding and support. This year’s topic is focused on solving early childhood education in the urban slum.

A sign covered in paint handprints reading "What's your $1,000,000 idea?"

With a core team of eight, I have been working to create the competition, contacting judges, pushing out publicity campaigns. It would’ve been neat to come watch the pitches take place and learn from the winning teams, but I get a chance to shape the ideas formation process and influence how students think about social entrepreneurship on campus.

The thing I love about Yale is that people here dive straight into the mess no matter how daunting the project may seem. The conversation never ends at the complaint but continues to ask what we can do about an issue to make things better. Even better, here at Yale the conversations translate into action.