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How To Make A Difference: The Nitty-Gritty Details Of Social Innovation

Although the Ashoka U Exchange 2016 has come and gone, the impact of the many discussions, workshops and site visits will have long-lasting reach. The Ashoka conference helps with this goal by presenting stories from other innovators around the nation. Tulane, which hosted the event, houses the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking and offers social innovation as a minor to help students tackle the social problems they see through creative approaches.

One of the keynote speakers, Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Dallas, talked about what happened when he first got to the college, and saw a lot of changes needed to be made. Michael J. Sorrell is the 34th President of Paul Quinn College. Under his leadership, the school has become one of the most innovative small colleges in America and is rapidly becoming a model for urban higher education by focusing on academic rigor, experiential learning, and entrepreneurship.

“I saw something different than failure; I simply saw we were unencumbered by a history of success,” Sorrell joked. His goal wasn’t simply to make a better college, but to help out a struggling and poverty-stricken community.

“We turned the football field into a farm; we figured it was better to have good food than watch bad football,” he laughed, giving one example of a change he made. By lowering college costs and providing employment opportunities for students, he hopes to reduce the high unemployment rate in the community.

“Letting go is going to be the future; letting go is about growing your idea and impact,” Sorrell said.

Read more about Sorrell’s talk here: Tulane New Wave/ Ashoka U Exchange

Below is a video of Michael Sorrell discussing the “New Urban College Model” at TEDxSMU 2013:

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