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Guidelines Set for Social Venture Fund

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gives Support to Students who 'Aim to Change the World'

Hampshire's newly minted Social Venture Fund and Advisory Network has issued grant guidelines for its 18-month pilot program. The new program will award cash grants and provide advice and expertise to Hampshire students working on projects deemed to offer significant potential for social value.

According to the guidelines, these projects will fall into categories of scientific or social research, social enterprise, socially beneficial product development, artistic developments or endeavors that preserve cultural or historical heritage.

"While there are many grant programs for research and for entrepreneurial activities, this program may be unique in that it is solely for socially relevant projects and our 'investment bank' of resources includes not only cash, but expertise," said Colin Twitchell, the director of Hampshire's Lemelson Center. "In addition to financial support, we are looking for intellectual and skill venture capital, as well."

When asked for examples of the kind of projects the new fund and network might support, John McGill, a Hampshire parent-volunteer who will manage the fund, readily cited a few:

"The National Yiddish Book Center, now located adjacent to the Hampshire campus, grew out of Aaron Lansky's academic work as a Hampshire student," McGill said. "Had this program been in existence then, we would have seen its value in preserving a cultural heritage and gotten involved. In more scientific areas, we'd look at funding projects related to AIDS or stem cell research. Likewise, if someone has a beautiful button design, we would probably applaud its style, but if the new button made it easier for a person with severe arthritis or a prosthesis to get dressed, we'll be really interested."

Hampshire expects that this pilot project will lead the way to a permanent and self-sustaining Social Venture and Advisory Network that will provide financial and skill resources to those attending the College, and to alumni as well. In addition, it is hoped that through equity or royalty positions created by the grants, the College itself will earn sustaining funds.

Hampshire College Lemelson Center

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