Lynn University today announced plans for its new Social Impact Lab, an experiential learning space where students and professionals can leverage the power of business to generate positive impact both locally and around the world. Jerry Hildebrand, a pioneer in social entrepreneurship, has been appointed the center’s director.
Set to be located in the future Christine E. Lynn University Center, the Social Impact Lab’s mission is to be a world-class career launch pad for purpose-fueled young professionals. It will offer real-world experience, professional connections and mentorships, and industry preparedness and upskill training. It will also serve as a go-to talent pipeline for mission-focused startups, impact investment firms and social enterprises.
“Lynn is an innovative institution that knows where its heart is—making a difference,” said Hildebrand.
“I’m excited to build on already existing citizenship and impact programs and bring a whole new level of social innovation to the university. And we’ve already seen Lynn students do great things.”
In 2008, Hildebrand developed a program called Ambassador Corps that provides an entry point for students and professionals to explore a purpose-driven career. Following intensive training in leadership, intercultural competency and social entrepreneurship, the hand-selected corps interns work with a social enterprise in an area of need for 8 to 10 weeks. This past summer, two Lynn students and one professor participated in the program in Rwanda and Nicaragua.
“Ambassador Corps was an incomparable opportunity to gain professional work experience and to learn,” said past participant Rigoberto Beltran ’17. “This program is a chance for anyone who is interested in social impact to get a hands-on look under the hood of a startup social enterprise and all of the excitement and challenges that come with it.”
With his and Social Impact Lab Associate Director Erina McWilliam Lopez’s arrival, Hildebrand’s signature program will now be home-based on Lynn’s campus. Program specifics will be released in January 2018.
Hildebrand joins Lynn after successes as director of Middlebury Institute’s Center for Social Impact Learning in Monterey, California, founder and CEO of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and CEO of the Katalysis Bootstrap Fund where he spent 17 years working in microfinance. Over the years, he has created a new generation of hands-on, solution-minded pragmatists that pioneered practical, inventive and sustainable approaches to addressing the world’s most pressing social issues.
Bringing to Lynn his extensive network, Hildebrand is on the Cordes Foundation board of directors and the Semester at Sea Corporate advisory board and works with Fair Trade University USA, Opportunity Collaboration, Stockton Impact Corps and The World We Want Foundation. He was also one of pioneering Peace Corps volunteers in the early 1960s.