Social entepreneurship growing on campus

After receiving the title of “Changemaker Campus” by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a social entrepreneurship group, Marquette is taking more steps to reaffirm its position as a campus focused on solving societal problems.

The university is hosting social entrepreneur Rajiv Vinnakota from Nov. 7 to Nov. 13 as part of Marquette’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. He is the second such entrepreneur to have a residency at Marquette. Jane Leu was here last year.

Social entrepreneurship is the “solving of social problems by way of sustainable, systematic change,” according to Jeff Snell, special adviser to the president.

Vinnakota is the founder of the SEED Foundation, a foundation focused on improving urban education and bringing educational resources to underprivileged children. The SEED Foundation has built two boarding schools for such children in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Vinnakota said it was his connection to Milwaukee that helped him land the residency.

“(The SEED Foundation) had tried to build a school here in Milwaukee,” Vinnakota said. “Not only that, but my dad is a professor here and I have a lot of connections to Milwaukee and Marquette. They reached out to me, and it turned out to be a real slam-dunk for both of us.”

Throughout Vinnakota’s residency he will speak to classes and at events, teach three classes and hold discussions with faculty and students on social entrepreneurship.

“It’s all in Marquette’s mission and identity,” Vinnakota said. “Social entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily new, but it’s giving a name to what Marquette and its students and faculty have been striving to do since its inception, which is of course, helping solve the problems of society around it and providing real service to the community.”