Clinton, S.C. – Presbyterian College is searching for entrepreneurs – not just those seeking to simply better their future bank accounts, but rather entrepreneurs who want to better the world.
On Monday in front of the Peace Center in downtown Greenville, PC President Dr. Matt vandenBerg held a press conference in which he put forth the college’s Service Entrepreneurship Competition, which is open to all current high school seniors in South Carolina.
“Generation Z is quickly developing a reputation as the most socially conscious, empathetic, innovative and digitally savvy generation yet,” vandenBerg said. “They volunteer at record rates. They plan to work in careers where they can change their communities. They often seek to improve the world through service. They plan to work in careers where they can change their communities. They often seek to improve the world through service. But for them, service is most meaningful not when it simply fulfills an unmet need – but when it addresses the root cause of that need.”
The Service Entrepreneurship Competition has a deadline of Dec. 1, and vandenBerg explained that students can work on their own or with teams of two or three.
Winners receive a full ride to Presbyterian College, as well as $10,000 to begin implementing their plan, class credit and also staff and area business and political leaders willing to help coach them through that process.
Runners-up will receive a scholarship covering most of their PC tuition and the same level of support, including up to $10,000, to implement their proposal. Honorable mentions will receive significant scholarships and the same level of support and academic credit.
“In simple terms, service entrepreneurship is creative problem solving that addresses community challenges and creates value for society,” vandenBerg said. “The work might take the form of a business, a nonprofit organization, or a program or initiative. At the end of the day, the common themes are creative problem solving, service and adding value to a community.”
PC wants to help students become leaders who have a heart for serving the public and an understanding of how to provide tangible solutions, he said.
“PC has an obligation, an opportunity and an ability to provide this talented generation with the education, tools and guidance they need to pursue their civic-minded passions,” vandenBerg said. “We can prepare and unleash them to address our society’s many vexing problems.”
PC’s motto, “While we Live, We Serve,” has had an impact on many alumni over the years, said 2002 alumnus Chad Prashad, who suggested just such a program to vandenBerg during the new president’s “listening tour” earlier this year.
Both Prashad and his wife, Pam, work in finance – he as CEO and founder of World Acceptance Corporation in Greenville and Pam, also a PC alumna, as controller at Hollingsworth Funds.
“We’ve both helped non-profits for the last decade or so as board members and have come to appreciate the impact an entrepreneurial approach can have,” Prashad said.
“PC produces so many grads who go into service professions,” Prashad said, “and PC is a natural home to a social entrepreneurship program that marries the desire to serve others with empathy and an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving.”
Prashad is hoping that fellow alumni and other social and business leaders will be excited to come alongside to help mentor the student winners of the Service Entrepreneurship Competition once it’s put into action next fall at Presbyterian College.
“We have three main groups we’re seeking to make this program successful,” Prashad said, explaining that these include youth educators and leaders such as high school teachers, church youth group leaders and others who appreciate instilling a sense of responsibility and missions to the community. They’re also looking for business and entrepreneurial mentors as well as leaders of the local non-profits who see first hand the need for solutions to societal problems.
It’s a program that can have far reaching impact on the state and nation, vandenBerg said, and this initiative is the first by a college in South Carolina.
Individual students or teams of two to three can submit a detailed written business case that addresses a compelling societal problem with an equally persuasive solution – including proposed timelines for implementation, background research and plans to sustain their solution.
The college will announce winners in early spring of 2022, with winners enrolling at PC for fall 2022.
For more information, go to https://www.presby.edu/admissions/tuition-aid/scholarships/service-entrepreneurship-competition/
Story first published page 1, Wednesday, Oct. 20 in The Laurens County Advertiser.
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