The mission of NC State Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship is to empower social impact leaders to build the capacity to create systemic change. Social Innovation Fellows learn and practice concepts essential to effective problem-solving including systems-level thinking, human-centered design, theory of change models, stakeholder mapping, and empathy. In FY 2022-23, the Social Innovation Fellows Program (SIF) completed an intensive yearlong strategic planning effort with high-level community stakeholders and donors with the goal of securing a new administrative home and enhancing program funding. This work resulted in the SIF program becoming a part of NC State Innovation and Entrepreneurship under the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Programs.
A planning group of internal stakeholders with faculty from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Natural Resources, Division of Academic and Student Affairs, Honors College, College of Design, Poole College of Management, and alumni and students has been launched to explore points of collaboration and determine a strategy to scale impact. Early goals include the development of curriculum modules, a student enrichment fund to support student educational experiences, a new summer internship program in partnership with local social enterprises, and the expansion of workshops and skill labs.
Eighteen new Fellows joined the ranks of six returning Senior Fellows, three Team Mentors, and over a dozen community leaders who have offered pro bono expertise. KIETS Associate Director Raj Narayan serves as one of the core faculty team mentors for the Social Innovation Fellows program. In March 2023, Kenan Fund Director Gareth Gwyn facilitated a workshop on intersectional leadership for the SIF students based on her work with Let’s See Labs.
The FY 2022-23 SIF projects included the following:
- Raleigh City Farm – Raleigh City Farm is a nonprofit urban farm in downtown Raleigh and an SIF team will investigate issues related to food insecurity for their stakeholders;
- Town of Zebulon – A SIF Team will work with the Town of Zebulon in Wake County to address growth issues including sustainability and equitable access to town resources;
- NC Common Cause – NC Common Cause is an advocacy group working to ensure democratic accountable government and a SIF team will work with them to explore issues related to voter engagement.