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NC State Social Innovation Fellows Present Mid-Year Progress

Sandhills School Project team from left to right: Laura Schoeck, Sierra Jones, Ruth Kintzele, Craig Prince, Sofia Abdo & Alysa Buchanan



Sandhills School Project team from left to right: Laura Schoeck, Sierra Jones, Ruth Kintzele, Craig Prince, Sofia Abdo & Alysa Buchanan

The festive and beautiful Dorothy and Roy Park Alumni Center served as venue to the December 3rd gathering of Social Innovation Fellows, Brain Trust members, and campus and community leaders to mark the midpoint in the Fellows’ project work. Over eighty guests attended the reception that provided the Fellows an opportunity to showcase their projects and share progress toward their challenge goals. The five projects showcased included: The Farmer’s Garment Challenge, the Flexcrevator Project, The Sandhills School Project, The Root BioScience Project and the Haiti Goat Project.

An inspiring opening song, This Island Earth, sung by Senior Fellow Rachel Poythress and accompanied by her father, opened the program. Dr. Richard Clerkin brought official greetings from the Institute for Nonprofits, then welcomed Provost Warwick Arden to the podium for remarks. Provost Arden praised the diverse and multidisciplinary nature of the Fellows cohort, which he noted was necessary to find solutions for complex problems. He emphasized the importance of social innovation and entrepreneurship campus offerings as students are seeking career paths that have intention and purpose. Touting the university’s recent ranking of #11 for best undergraduate entrepreneurship programs by the Princeton Review, Provost Arden congratulated the Institute for leading the campus in developing a robust ecosystem in social entrepreneurship and innovation. He closed his remarks by saying that the Fellows “represented the best and brightest on campus,” and that our “Think and Do” mantra is exemplified through their work.

The 2018-19 Social Innovation Fellows teams were then introduced by Program Director Elizabeth Benefield to present the highlights of their work so far. This work included scoping the projects and creating empathy and journey maps to support their efforts to better understand the challenges of their respective projects.

The Farmer’s Garment team discussed their goals to educate and provide migrant tobacco workers with an outerwear garment that protects them from pesticides and resins while working in the field. An innovative skit showcased the work of the Flexcrevator team to advance the use of a technological device developed at NC State to empty human waste from pit latrines. The Sandhills Schools team shared their ambitious plans to help local farmers in Richmond County. One of their ideas is to determine how to redistribute fresh produce to local schools and convenience stores, thereby preventing food waste while educating people who reside in food deserts about the importance of eating healthy, fresh foods. The Root Bioscience team performed a creative skit to showcase their efforts to solve the enormous plant waste problem in the hemp industry, highlighting their exploration of its use in animal feed. The Haiti Goat team presented their ideas to scale operations in Haiti to serve an additional 5,000 children nutritious goat chili meals, and implement new funding operations to increase donor revenue and create program sustainability.

Dr. Jeffrey Braden, Dean of NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, provided closing remarks which emphasized the co-curricular nature of the students’ work. The Fellows are participating in this work not for credit, but because they are passionate about changing the world. Dean Braden also discussed that the unique flavor of social entrepreneurship at NC State includes humanities, design and data. He emphasized the importance of seeking the triple bottom line – people, planet and profits – in all entrepreneurial ventures, and how the Fellows program is an example of what NC State does best – create multidisciplinary opportunities to solve complex societal problems.

Haiti Goat Project team from left to right: Paige Swanson, Nimet Degirmencioglu, Jordan Bowman, Marcie Laird & Anirudh Akula

For more information about the Social Innovation Fellows program: Contact Elizabeth Benefield at or visit the website: