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ILSI Blog



Ideas to Serve | Season Opener

It has been one year of working and learning remotely. As we reflect on the hectic transition to online life this time last year, the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact (ILSI) team - like many organizations around the world-  has reflected on our growth. We have pivoted and strengthened our online work and program offerings despite the hardships that continue to impact our society. The resilience of the ILSI community of students, alumni, partners, and faculty has and continues to persevere through this historic era in the name of equity and inclusion. We have doubled down on our commitment to social impact while continuing to offer collaborative programming, scholarship and resources needed to combat systemic inequity and social justice. And with that - we are thrilled to celebrate the 12th year of our flagship impact program - the Ideas to Serve (I2S) competition. 

Students and teams working on a project that can improve a social/environmental problem are invited to submit their project for the Ideas to Serve Competition today! As a first step students should fill out the short Intent to Compete Form and then submit their application packet by the April 6 deadline.

I2S has been and continues to be a platform to support, educate, and celebrate Georgia Tech students’ ideas around social innovation. Last year was our first virtual I2S competition, which gave us challenges to overcome, and innovative ideas of how to connect student submissions to our judging panel of social impact leaders. However, we were still able to provide a comprehensive approach to social innovation, encouraging students teams to: 

  • identify and build on the assets of the communities they want to serve; 
  • research the solution landscape to learn from what works, and what failed (and why);
  • take a systems approach to identify the root cause versus the symptoms of the issue; 
  • conduct customer discovery to better understand the needs of the community; and 
  • to carefully consider the possible unintended consequences of any solution they might propose.

In 2021, now more than ever, it has become clear that we need to continue tackling the diverse environmental, health, and social problems of our world with an equity-centered and iterative lens. Through the I2S experience, students learn and utilize a host of tools such as the Asset Based Community Development Tool (ABCD), which helps students better identify assets already existing in communities where they are seeking to impact, and the Stakeholder Mapping tool, which enables students to understand a system, visualize where we can leverage connections for change, and create connections between stakeholders or initiatives with similar goals.

Additionally, this year we are excited to be pairing I2S teams with community organization and civic entrepreneur partners to further enable co-discovery and to ensure that students embark on their problem discovery with the guidance from seasoned, locally embedded social innovators. Our 2021 partners include Carrie’s Closet, Grove Park, Life School, LISC, Ubuntu, Wundergrubs, and Housing Tonight. Through these partnerships, our focus through I2S continues to be on working with the students in understanding the root-causes, and systemic factors that keep social and environmental issues in place. As we educate students who will further Georgia Tech’s motto of Progress and Service for All we aim to foster an ethos of servant leadership and equitable partnership with the communities that our students will hopefully serve through various roles in their future careers.

We are also still thrilled to be a part of our collaboration with the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School at Oxford, where we will stay connected to global impact thought leaders. We are continuing our partnership with their Map the System Global Challenge. The top team(s) from I2S will represent Georgia Tech at Oxford and compete with teams focused on social impact from top universities around the world. Georgia Tech students who are interested in understanding complex problems and or who are involved in community-based, grassroots efforts to address problems in the Impact Economy, but who do not have an “innovation” can still participate in I2S as well! Check out the testimony of a former participant below!

“Dori Pap’s MGT 4803: Social Impact class enlightened me to the complex system behind a social issue that can be visualized through system mapping. During this class that also serves as a workshop series for Ideas to Serve(I2S) participants, I learned a lot from the journey of past participants, like Jasmine Burton, who had gone through the gap finding and solution mapping process. We also attended the GT Impact Speaker Series which highlighted innovative solutions to Atlanta’s pressing problems, like talking about access to education in our prison system. I then choose to compete in the 2020 I2S competition to embark on my own journey of discovery. The tools the course exposed me to (like Impact Gaps Canvas, Asset Based Community Development, Human-Centered Design) allowed me to look at this issue at a system-level, and critically evaluate existing solutions before exploring new ones.” Njeri Mogwanja, CE ‘23 (Team:FGM)

Be sure to tune into our last I2S Workshop on Persuasive Presentations, hosted by Speechworks founder Joey Asher on March 29th. Learn more about I2S, the competition requirements, and how you can get involved here. 

I2S is supported by The Cecil B. Day Program for Business Ethics, Center for Serve - Learn - Sustain, Steven A. Denning Technology and Management Program, Center for International Business Education and Research, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, The Woodall Servant Leadership Endowment, LEAD Program, Design Bloc, Speechworks, and Mosley Ventures.

The Institute for Leadership and Social Impact is an interdisciplinary institute that promotes servant leadership and organizational practices that contribute to a more just, caring, and equitable world. Learn more about our work!

CONTACTS

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Nicole Little
Assistant Director of Operations