GU, GWU Students Partner at LearnServe
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 02:08
Georgetown students are familiar with social entrepreneurship. Now, a new campus group is committed to helping Washington, D.C. high school students foster an appreciation for the field through projects of their own.
The program, Young Changemakers, is part of LearnServe International, a D.C-based nonprofit dedicated to providing high school students with the skills needed to launch community service projects.
“The goal is to equip them with the knowledge and skills to launch their own ventures to address what really frustrates them in the world, whether it be locally or globally,” said LearnServe Young Changemakers Program Leader Jake Sorrells (SFS ’16), who participated in the one-year LearnServe Fellows Program in high school.
Each fellow learns how to develop business plans, design marketing strategies, fundraise and improve public speaking. Students are also given the opportunity to meet with local entrepreneurs, with the goal of creating their own projects.
Sorrells felt that the knowledge he had gained through the program should be shared with more students and he chose to create a similar program for his personal project.
“Too few teens were able to reap from a similar kind of opportunity,” Sorrells said. “It’s an extraordinary experience, but therein lies the problem — it should be an ordinary experience.”
After piloting the program in his high school during his junior year, Sorrells expanded Young Changemakers to Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, Va. This year, the organization plans to expand into three more area high schools. While the programs were initially run by high school students who were LearnServe Fellows alumni, a team of college facilitators are now helping to lead the program.
In the spring, five students from Georgetown and two students from George Washington University were recruited to serve as leaders. All students chosen had some sort of community participation experience.
“After traveling abroad and experiencing the shortcomings of the developing world … it was difficult to ignore my feeling of helplessness,” said Elizabeth Cunningham (COL ’16), who participated in LearnServe during high school. “I also could not ignore the problems in my own area as well.”
Sorrells partnered with Compass Fellows to seek applicants.
“I applied to Young Changemakers because the mission of the program is the same as that of Compass — they want to inspire students to change the world through social entrepreneurship,” said Cherie Chung (SFS ’16), a former Compass Fellow.
LearnServe International, a decade-old organization with ties to the D.C. community, officially adopted the Young Changemakers program last year. Young Changemakers has expanded LearnServe’s reach from five students at each high school to more than 30.
“How Young Changemakers was implemented at [local high schools] helped the LearnServe fellows be more successful with their work because they had teams helping them out from the start,” LearnServe International CEO Scott Rechler said.
The team is in the process of raising $5,000 through its website to cover seed funds for participating schools and transportation costs, while also applying for grants at both universities.
High school students in the Young Changemakers program have produced 25 projects, including raising money to provide educational funds to students in Ethiopia and developing a nonprofit to provide scholarships for students with incarcerated parents.