The Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation announced this year’s recipients of its GU Impacts fellowship, a program that allows 16 undergraduate students to participate in a fully-funded 10-week summer internship focused on social innovation at organizations in the United States and abroad.
Fellows will intern with six social impact organizations: Fundación Avina in Colombia, Yanbal International in Peru, the Inventtus Corporation in Nicaragua, the Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta, the D.C. Federal City Council and Mann Deshi Foundation in India.
The program accepted 16 fellows from a pool of 73 applicants this year, down from a pool of 115 applicants last year, the first year of the program. Applicants were able to rank specific programs based on language ability and preference.
Program Manager Matthew Fortier said the decline in applications is likely due to self-selection on the part of interested students.
“We were more transparent and clear at the beginning of the recruitment process about the requirements of the program,” Fortier said. “I think in that way, while we received fewer applications than last year for the same number of spots, essentially we had a higher quality of applications because applicants already knew what they were getting into when they applied.”
Fortier said the Impacts fellowship aims to expose students to the social development sector through experiential learning opportunities.
“More broadly speaking, we’re looking to develop individual leaders in all sectors,” Fortier said. “So we’re investing in the development of these individuals while. at the same time, they’re having a direct impact with the organizations and projects that we’re working with.”
Fortier said GU Impacts hopes to combine service and learning into a meaningful experience that fellows can draw on through the rest of their time at Georgetown.
“In doing that, we’re looking to have an impact on multiple levels, to have an impact on the individual fellows themselves, to influence their individual academic and professional careers and the contributions that they can make back to Georgetown and the larger community once they’ve returned,” Fortier said. “We’re also looking to have an impact on the organizations and the beneficiaries of these organizations themselves.”
Fellows at Fundación Avina, a new partnership for this year, will monitor the peace and political process in Colombia following the recent agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces, create an impact-investment platform for the foundation and examine the water imprint of Avina’s partner organizations.
According to Fortier, the partnership is pending approval from the Office of Global Services as Colombia is under a State Department travel warning.
“At Georgetown we already have graduate students doing work there with the Center for Latin American Studies, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to run that program this year,” Fortier said.
Yanbal International is a cosmetics company with a strong social impact mission. In a micro-entrepreneurship model similar to that of the cosmetics company Avon Products, Inc., Yanbal empowers its sales consultants to implement direct sales models under the supervision of a director.
GU Impacts fellows will work on analyzing and enhancing the company’s direct sales model and structure.
The Inventtus Corporation consists of two social enterprises, Nuve Technologies and Mochila Digital, which focus on democratizing technology in Latin America. The fellows will be working with these enterprises to examine how access to technology can contribute to education.
The Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta is a startup that focuses on projects aimed at creating an environment that can catalyze entrepreneurship both in Atlanta and in cities across the United States.
The DC Federal City Council focuses on impact investing in infrastructure around the DC area, especially in Anacostia.
Mann Deshi Foundation is a multifaceted organization that works towards the economic empowerment of women in rural India. Mann Deshi consists of a bank, a business school and a chamber of commerce. The organization builds skills surrounding access to finance and helps the women with whom it works to develop their own businesses.
Shola Powell (COL ’17), a GU Impacts alumna mentor who interned with Mann Deshi last summer said she was able to see the impact of Mann Deshi first-hand.
“I went around to different villages and met with different women and learned more about their company and how Mann Deshi helped them, and what kind of resources they had access to,” Powell said.
Valerie Sanchez (SFS ’18), another alumna mentor who interned in the Philippines last summer with Ateneo Center for Educational Development, a partnership that has been discontinued this year, stressed the significance of the fellowship in helping her plan her path at Georgetown.
“It very much helped me in terms of being able to pick my major,” Sanchez said. “I decided that development is something that I wanted to focus on, and the strategy behind different projects or implementation of projects around the world, and that’s really what I came here for.”
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