Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship Intro Part 1
Beginning in January, I will be working full-time at a Hanover, NH-based nonprofit organization called the Upper Valley Business Education Partnership (UVBEP). I have been working on a performance measurement project for them since I received the Class of 1982 Upper Valley Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship from the Tucker Foundation in March.
What is the Class of 1982 Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship?
From the Tucker Foundation website:
The Class of 1982 Upper Valley Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship was created and launched on the occasion of the 25th Reunion of the Class of 1982. The fellowship honors the Upper Valley community for its contributions making Dartmouth the special place that it is. By directing their resources to the non-profit organizations and the people of this community, the Class of 1982 took this opportunity to give something back and to ensure that Dartmouth students continue to enjoy and benefit from this unique environment today and in the future.
The Fellowship is awarded annually to one Dartmouth undergraduate and will support the establishment of new ongoing initiatives which expand economic and social opportunities for low-income people in the Upper Valley region on a sustainable basis. Projects should emphasize program entrepreneurship, revenue-generation, or cost recovery or community outreach and engagement. The grant covers one full-time leave term of immersion at the fellowship site and several terms of part-time involvement. Fellows must collaborate with a local non-profit organization or school. As the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship program develops, we will develop learning ties with the Tuck School of Business and with the Upper Valley Non-Profit Exchange.
The fellowship lasts one year, and as the description above mentions, supports one full-time leave term of immersion and three part-time support terms. My fellowship period is from March 2011 – June 2012, a little longer than a year because I am currently studying abroad and not available to fulfill a part-time support role.
What was the application process like?
The application process was rigorous. It started in January where I requested information about the program from the Tucker Foundation and set up an initial meeting with the fellowship advisor. I gave a description of my interests and was given suggestions for Upper Valley organizations to contact.
For the next two weeks, I contacted about 5 community service organizations in the Upper Valley that could potentially support a project that fit my interests at the time: financial literacy, strategic planning, and revenue generation. I believe 4 contacted me back. We e-mailed back and forth and spoke over the phone to see if we could propose a project to the Tucker Foundation that fit both the organization’s interests and my interests.
One organization in particular was a natural fit for what I was looking for. They had recently brought their board members and staff together for a strategic planning retreat and walked away with a document listing 4 priority objectives they had for capacity building. They were looking to pick one of these priority objectives and roll with it for the next year. They were even looking to bring in a Darmouth College student to help them work on the priority objective! Thus, the stars aligned, and I contacted them at a perfect time in their project trajectory.
This organization was the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership (UVBEP).
I had several phone conversations with Kathi Terami, executive director of UVBEP, and in the next two weeks, we agreed upon a broad project scope and drafted and finalized a project proposal together which we submitted to the Tucker Foundation. We knew that we would likely have to pivot with the project once we got started, but it was still helpful for ourselves to come up with concrete project parameters, objectives, and deliverables.
Then, I had to solicit two recommendation letters from a professor and previous employer, fill out a lengthy application, and bam! I was set by the beginning of February to turn in all this material and after an engaging 1 hour interview, the application process was over. All that was left to do was sit close to a computer at all times checking my e-mail constantly over the next week (half-kidding). After a few days, Tucker sent me an e-mail congratulating me on selecting me for the fellowship. And then it was up to me to take action and truly make a difference in my community!