Impact At Scale

The Beeck Center engages global leaders to drive social change at scale.

Social Change Sonal Shah Social Impact Beeck Center

Off to a Great Start— Letter from the Executive Director

The 2014-15 academic year is off to a great start. The Beeck Center is excited to be working with students after a quiet, but active summer. We find ourselves energized by the arrival of students and their eagerness to engage in doing social good in the community, both on campus and beyond. Over the last two weeks, we have been greeting new and returning students on Red Square and at SA Fair during Welcome Week, visiting classes, and hosting open houses in our interactive space located on the ground floor of the Intercultural Center. We’re inspired by the innovative ideas and questions students are generating, all with a shared focus on how they can contribute to making a positive social impact on the world.

I’d like to share with you two highlights from the summer:

We are very proud of the 16 students who participated in GU Impacts this summer. They worked abroad in Rwanda, South Africa, Ecuador, Panama, and Nicaragua on community projects. These projects ranged from fruit preservation in Panama, helping farmers avoid loss of produce by creating new items like jams and desserts; to creating community gardens and teaching irrigation. Last night we had a great dinner where they shared their experiences and we are working with them to help support their re-entry back into campus life after their intense experiences. Later this month, we will host a reflection and retreat, and all GU Impact students will be invited to participate in designing the future of the program.


In August, we had the honor of partnering with the U.S. Department of Education and Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton for the My Brother’s Keeper Data Jam, a day-long event. Mr. Shelton is also the Executive Director of My Brother’s Keeper, the President Obama’s flagship initiative to empower boys and men of color.

Over 160 participants joined us on a Saturday to brainstorm ideas for how to best help boys and young men of color access opportunities to thrive and achieve success. Twenty cross-disciplinary teams comprised of data scientists, designers, practitioners, community advocates, parents, and K-12 students worked with data to generate solutions to address six key challenges. These include:

  • Entering school ready to learn
  • Reading at grade level by third grade
  • Graduating from high school ready for college and career
  • Completing post secondary education or training
  • Successfully entering the workforce
  • Reducing violence and providing a second chance

Seven of the twenty teams have been invited to present their ideas to the Department of Education on September 19th.

Deputy Secretary Shelton was excited by the event and spent the entire day working alongside the teams and was thrilled with the outcome. Check out his blog and this EdSurge article on how data can empower people.

MBK Data Jam

The success has inspired others. The cities of Memphis and Milwaukee have reached out to learn from our model. We view this as the first of many events that seek to bridge unlikely partners and apply innovative approaches to solving complex problems. We hope to do more of this work in partnership with students and faculty here at Georgetown and beyond, and we encourage you to reach out to us with ideas.

This fall we will welcome our first visiting fellow, Paul Schmitz, Innovator in Residence at the Beeck Center. Paul is the former CEO of the nationally recognized leadership organization Public Allies. He spent twenty years building the leadership of young people to be effective community leaders across America. Paul is looking forward to sharing his experiences and leading a Seminar on “Leading for Social Change” this fall. He is also writing his second book following his first success, Everyone Leads.

We are excited that Paul will be on campus this fall. He will lead a Seminar on “Leadership for Social Change” for undergraduate and graduate students. Applications can be found here. He will also host office hours, deliver guest lectures, lead talks and provide strategic support to the Beeck Center.

Paul Schmitz Seminar: Leadership for Social Change

We are also creating a student board for the Beeck Center. We hope many of you will apply to be on the board. This will be an active board that will help guide the Center. We are looking for both undergraduate and graduate students to participate. Please apply here.

Apply to the student impact board!

Finally, we have a number of exciting events coming up and we hope you will join us. In October, we will host a panel and reception on Banking and Values, spotlighting the efforts of banks to advance sustainability and bank the unbanked and to invite discussion on the future of community banking as a vehicle for scaling impact through the finance sector. In November, we will host a convening on Innovations in Government, with a focus on innovative approaches by governments to pay for results. Over 125 participants from around the world and the U.S. will join us for a day of talks and training to explore how governments at all levels can drive impact through new approaches to investment of public dollars and, in doing so, build a better, more effective and more efficient government for the 21st century. We’ll also be gearing up for events next semester, including the launch of our first course, a conference and training on Prizes and Challenges, and an event on mobile technology. If you’d like to be involved in any of these events, contact us at

We invite you to connect with us. if you’re on campus, be sure to come by our center in ICC Room 100. And if you’re off campus, reach out to us and share your ideas and questions! We’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at 202-687-8650.

Welcome to the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation. Look forward to an awesome year!

Sonal Shah

Executive Director

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