June 11th kicked off our first-ever GivingPoint Social Innovators Academy summer workshops! We were graciously hosted at Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business offices at 55 Park Place, with support from the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. We worked with four amazing students for a week, teaching them the skills they need to put their passion to action and create a social impact project of their own!

The students were Sahana P. and Askya A. from Henry W. Grady High School, Zarya A. from The New School, and Caylene A. from Atlanta Classical Academy. Each student came into the week with a passion area and spent the week focusing and building upon that passion to come up with a project idea, which they presented to a panel of judges, along with a group of family, friends, and supporters. We are so proud of the work they accomplished in a week!

Day One

We kicked off the week with Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, presented by Dr. Cynthia Searcy, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs at Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at GSU. Dr. Searcy shared that Social Entrepreneurship is the creation of social value from opportunity of untapped/trapped resources. In the afternoon, our own Director of Programs James Aucoin led the workshop on SMART Goal Setting. We ended the day with some brainstorming time for the students to think about their projects, and then had a GSU campus tour, visiting some awesome spots such as LaunchGSU and the ExLab.

Day Two

On Tuesday we started the day with one of our favorite group activities: Save Sam! This was a good primer for our Strategic Leadership workshop lead by Dr. Tony Lamair Burks II, Executive Director of L.E.A.R.N.global. Dr. Burks taught the six essential traits of a strategic leader, and even lead the group in a blindfolded puzzling activity! In the afternoon we heard about Budgeting and Fundraising from Blair Enfield, President of MADE Global Brands, LLC. Blair shared helpful information about budgeting that went beyond student projects and was relevant and helpful for all parts of life.

Day Three

On Wednesday James presented again, this time leading the students in Perfecting Your Pitch. The students had been working on crafting a 60-second elevator pitch, and eventually built that pitch into a five minute final presentation, which they shared with the group on Friday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon provided the perfect opportunity to try out their new pitches, because they were learning networking. J. DeLano Ford, Executive Director of Metro Atlanta’s Teach for America, shared practical tips for networking effectively and professionally. Afterwards, we invited guests from GSU to come join us for a networking practice for our students.

Day Four

Thursday started with a presentation from Jackie Davis the Associate Director of Marketing and Events for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at GSU. Jackie used her professional experience to teach our students about Event Planning and Partnerships, reminding us that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” After the first workshop we had the opportunity to walk over to Safehouse Outreach and help with their afternoon lunches, and ended with a tour of their facility. It was a great way to put our passion to action. In the afternoon the students spent some more time perfecting their pitches in preparation for Friday.

Day Five

Our final workshop was Friday morning, with Lisa Babb, a lecturer in the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Institute of Technology. Lisa taught the students about Branding and Marketing, which is a vital component of a successful project or campaign.  After Lisa’s workshop, it was time to prepare for the afternoon’s Minnow-vation presentations. Minnow-vation is GivingPoint’s own mini-innovation presentations, Shark Tank-style. Students would present the project ideas they had spent all week preparing to a panel of judges, who would provide both positive and constructive feedback.

Caylene went first, sharing about her project called “Celebrating You!” which focuses on decreasing feelings of negligence in hospitals and senior homes through celebrations.


Next was Askya, whose project “Represent” is targeting future voters, specifically 16-17 year old’s of minority backgrounds, educating them on the voting process and preparing them to be engaged citizens.


Sahana followed up with her project, tentatively titled “Earth Cents,” which aims to make sustainability relatable, and looks to show people that not only is being wasteful bad for the environment, but also for their wallet.


And lastly we had Zarya, whose project “Irawo” helps partner with female African-based artists to promote their financial independence, standard of living, and impact on their communities.

We ended the week with a mini graduation ceremony for the students, recognizing and celebrating everything they had learned and accomplished over the week. Even though the workshops are done, we will continue to work with the students to help them implement their project ideas and continue to turn their #PassionToAction!


For more photos of the week, please visit our Facebook page.