Since spring of 2013, staff members from our Professional Development Center have been working closely with the folks at Noble Impact in Little Rock, Ark., to help that organization develop its inaugural INSTITUTE program, which was held last summer in Arkansas. For the uninitiated, Noble Impact is a nonprofit committed to engaging kindergarten through 12th graders as they traverse the intersection of public service and entrepreneurship.
Chad Williamson, the co-founder of Noble Impact, visited us here at Eagle Rock years ago and was impressed enough to come back last year to see if we could help his team by collaborating on the creation of curriculum for the first INSTITUTE program.
The INSTITUTE of Noble Impact is more than an all-caps nine-letter non-abbreviated acronym. It’s also a noble concept — and the first of its kind summer program with a single goal in mind. That purpose is to commit students to enact social change.
Now here’s where it gets weird. The idea is for these students to perform a noble public service while practicing entrepreneurship. Can anyone say oxymoron? Is this a conflict in philosophies? Helping others while helping yourself? How do these seemingly opposing philosophies meld into a single action with a combined purpose?
The INSTITUTE — working in concert with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service — skillfully addresses the dialectic between public service and entrepreneurship. The challenge for students is to find practical approaches to “making a difference” in their community.
The weeklong summer program challenges INSTITUTE students to think about community issues, ideas for solutions — ultimately creating sustainable impact.