UNC Social Innovation Program Coordinator at CUBE reminisces about the days at the Y as a student.

San Francisco event gets alumni thinking about the future of social innovation.

Patrick enters a semester-long accelerator for student innovators, leaders, & entrepreneurs.

Iconic writer, NC native, and UNC alumni received an honorary Doctor of Letters.

Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence talks about his year mentoring CUBE ventures.

Students, staff, family members, & community partners gathered to acknowledge the year's accomplishments.

Get an intro to the NC Social Entrepreneurship competition on September 9, 2014. Find out how to get involved!

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“Rocketship’s mission is to eliminate the achievement gap in our lifetime, and that is exactly what I hope to accomplish… I will not rest until every child in our country can attend a great elementary school and beyond.” ~ Preston Smith

Preston Smith (’01) always had big ideas for transforming education. His passion stemmed from his interest in social justice, which he developed during his time as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “I learned a ton about myself—past, present, and future—got to see a whole new side of the country, traveling extensively on the East Coast, and became deeply centered on social justice, which was a significant detour from my original passion of political science and law.”

He is the co-founder and CEO of Rocketship Education—a San Jose, California, based blended charter school system. It is currently the highest performing low-income school system in California and aims to eliminate the achievement gap within one generation. “If we can figure out how to integrate technology, curricula, tutors, books, online programs, and much, much more in a manner that increases the optimal learning zone for kids—that is when we will see dramatic gains for students,” says Smith. Smith is rethinking elementary education from the ground up.

Social entrepreneurs tend to operate outside the lines -- defying corporate convention or government gridlock to create solutions that change the world. Our Social Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at CUBE do just that.

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This September, Earl Phalen, one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs and education reformers, will come for a one-year residency to Carolina to help UNC-Chapel Hill’s social entrepreneurs maximize their potential to impact the world. 

Each year, the Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence (SEiR) based at the CUBE provides real-world, practical experience, counseling students, faculty, and staff from across the university.

Phalen has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to expanding the life opportunities of children through learning and academic engagement. His organizations have made such significant transformative changes to educate children and youth across the country that President Obama has even modeled federal legislation after his summer learning program. He is a three-time recipient of Fast Company's Social Capitalist Award and has been awarded the President's Service Award by President Clinton. Recognized for his exceptional contributions in the education sector, he has been selected as a fellow at AshokaEchoing Green, and Mind Trust and was featured in MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, ABC News, the story cover of Time Magazine, BET, and TEDx. We feel extremely fortunate to have Phalen working with our teams and advising CUBE on strategy this year.

This year, we have formalized a partnership with the School of Education, our friendly neighbor just down the block on Cameron Avenue, in support of CUBE’s Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Earl Phalen, who is one of the nation’s leading social entrepreneurs and education reformers and has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to expanding the life opportunities of youth through learning and academic engagement. Phalen’s role is to encourage students and faculty to think entrepreneurially about how to tackle challenges in the education sector, whether it be across the state, at a national level, or even globally.

Education reform and innovation have long been priorities at the Campus Y. "The Campus Y established a school for African Americans in the community just before World War I in some of the darkest early days of Jim Crow in the South,” says Ken Zogry, a public historian who has been researching Y history. The school was directly in response to the systemic inequity based on race, imposed upon public education by the codification of Jim Crow laws in practices at the turn of the 20th century." Today, the Y continues to tackle educational inequality through tutoring, literacy, and mentoring hundreds of youth and adult learners each year across Orange County.


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