New resource centers for students interested in becoming entrepreneurs or serving the community opened on all four campuses Monday as part of a national program dedicated to providing students with change making tools.
The student-run centers, known as Changemaker Central, are part of the global organization Ashoka U’s Changemaker Campus Initiative that aims to solve social issues through entrepreneurship at universities. ASU was named a Changemaker Campus last fall and is one of 10 Changemaker Campuses nationwide — a list that includes Duke University and the University of Maryland.
The centers provide students with the technology, workspace, mentors and networking opportunities necessary to achieve their goals, said economics junior Leah Luben, director of Changemaker Central.
Giant whiteboards encouraging collaboration line the perimeter of Tempe’s Changemaker space located on the first floor of the Memorial Union. Students can connect their laptops to large monitor screens in the centers’ media conference areas as well as use touchscreen monitors to share notes with a person in another location.
The room is very transitive, Luben said, and can be rearranged to fit the needs of the groups utilizing the space.
“There are very young minds coming together to make a change,” said geography and political science junior Tyler Eltringham, one of Changemaker Central’s student leaders.
Eltringham, CEO of OneShot, a nonprofit organization providing meningitis vaccinations to college students living in dormitories, won last year’s ASU Innovation Challenge, a program that funds innovative student ideas for creating social change. He said he had a hard time finding resources during the Innovation Challenge because entrepreneur information was scattered across the Tempe campus.
Students can now get all the information they need at Changemaker, he said.
“If Changemaker Central existed when I started my business, I would have gotten a lot more sleep,” Eltringham said. “I would have known where to go and who to talk to without having to do so much extra searching on my own behalf.”
Changemaker Central staff member and sustainability business junior Kevin Keleher said the centers can connect students with resources throughout ASU. For example, if a student needs help marketing their business idea, Changemaker can connect them with a marketing club or a group of marketing students from University’s business school, he said.
“Maybe you have an idea, but you need an engineer to design it, or you need someone in business to help you market it,” Keleher said. “Changemaker is a great place for students to network and connect and develop those resources.”
It was important to have a space located at all campuses because it’s hard for some students to travel around the Valley, and each campus has its own unique population involved in different activities, Luben said.
The same resources and programs will be available at all locations, she said.
Changemaker personnel are even developing partnerships with nonprofit organizations across the Valley, giving students the opportunity to complete their federal work-study or be an intern off campus with the organization.
“The benefit is it’s non-clerical work, and the students are getting actual exposure to areas they might be interested in,” Luben said.
Changemaker Central’s official launch ceremony is Sept. 29, but students can now use all four centers.
“We’re ready to help get ideas started, and we’re ready to help (students) go through the process in becoming set in funding and making them sustainable,” she said.
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