A fantastic leadership development programme ran in Boston at Harvard University in mid-January and prompted some interesting new ideas on volunteering, charities and migrants.
CSCLeaders for Students is a four day leadership development programme held in major cities - where significant numbers of students from across the Commonwealth study.
CSCLeaders for Students at Harvard brought participants from 12 different countries together to tackle the central question -
'How do you get societal - as well as economic - value from technological innovation?'
With such a focus on collaboration between cultures, it wasn't long before great new ideas were flying around the room.
By having to consider the thoughts, feelings and passions of unfamiliar cultures - participants thought about issues in society more intensely and more creatively than they have ever done before
"It has been very intriguing to see how people have different perspectives on issues and to think about what kind of experiences may have informed their thinking along the way." - Dominic Akandwanaho, Undergraduate Student, Harvard University
Experienced and inspiratonal speakers were on hand to help put those ideas on the drawing board. There were speakers from American Red Cross of Massachusetts, Cambridge Innovation Center, Pfizer, Action for Boston Community Development, Goulston & Storrs, The Boston Globe, MIT Sloan Leadership Center and the US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
"I had the chance to work with a wonderful group of young professionals and young academics who are thinking about their futures and I was very pleased to be able to do so. They asked great questions about how they shape their future, how they can be engaged with improving their communities...I can see that there is a very constructive effort on their part to actually make a real difference."
- Richard Dimino, CEO, A Better City, and Speaker at CSCLeaders for Students
Here are the schemes that they came up with - we wish them well bringing them to fruition!
Blend: Bringing university students into Boston high schools to offer after-school classes which combine online lecture videos with in-person group discussions.
- Boston is home to thousands of university students but the city suffers from a disconnect between students and its communities.
- Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) exist to provide high quality education at low cost, but suffer high dropout rates.
- Blend combines MOOCs with tutors from Harvard and MIT to engage the students beyond the online offering to lessen dropout rate.
Help Me Help You!: Connecting not-for-profit organisations with specific skills gaps with university students in Boston.
- Student volunteers gain experience, develop local networks and have the opportunity to maximise their impact.
- Not-for-profit organisations gain tailored solutions from students that can bring passion and new perspectives to their challenges.
- Harvard and MIT both offer undergraduate courses requiring students to complete a project element each year. Help Me Help You! seeks to become a formal broker for this project element.
i-Migrant: Creating a pathway for immigrants to fulfil their American dream.
- America is a nation of immigrants. i-Migrant is an online platform providing migrants with easy access to information, advice on pathways to legalised status and support for career opportunities.
- i-Migrant is available as a website and a mobile app and can be used by existing outreach groups as well as individuals.
- i-Migrant comprises a series of testimonials from people that have gained citizen status to the US, as well as a questionnaire to establish whether the user has a pathway to citizenship. If the questionnaire finds the user can be helped, they will be directed to a legal assistant who can support them.
- i-Migrant will leverage the legal and technical expertise of the Harvard network.
Karma Points: a new way of recognising the service of volunteers.
- An online platform which facilitates matches between students' unique interests and abilities with community groups in Boston.
Karma Points replaces the traditional metric of the 'community service hour', providing a richer measurement of the impact of a volunteer's time.
- Karma Points can be showcased on a user's social media profiles, creating a competitive edge between students over who has the most points - thus driving a
culture change towards celebrating community service.
- Karma Points also links to local businesses and start-ups who will provide rewards to students in recognition of Karma Points earned, in exchange for raising their profile amongst this target demographic.