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.

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Nearly twenty years ago, Dr. Brian Billman, a UNC associate professor of anthropology, and Dr. Jesus Briceño from Peru’s Ministry of Culture co-founded a long-term archaeological project based in Ciudad de Dios in the Moche Valley on the north coast of Peru. After the first season digging, they faced the same problems every project faces there: looting of archaeological sites triggered by rural poverty.

A typical strategy – rarely successful – is for archaeologists to hire one or two people to protect the site during the off-season. However, in 1998, Billman and Briceño embarked on a different path, hiring the entire village of Ciudad de Dios to protect their archaeological site. They offered to fund $1200 worth of development projects each year that the site remained un-looted.

What was born was an innovative nonprofit organization called MOCHE Inc. — Mobilizing Opportunity Through Community Heritage Empowerment — protecting, teaching and studying the cultural heritage of that country while also creating economic development partnerships with rural communities. It takes its name from the Moche Valley and the ancient civilization that lived there. It is based on a social contract with the community, empowering its residents to take an active part in their development needs. Exciting news - MOCHE has recently been accepted into CUBE's class of entrepreneurs!

 

“It’s not lack of ambition, but lack of resources that keep people in poverty.”

As a UNC undergrad, Todd McKee (’90) was a political science major and music enthusiast. As many students do, he picked up an acoustic guitar one day and began teaching himself how to play. Later, he decided to save money by building his own electric guitar—and thus began his passion for woodworking. “I thought to myself, ‘why not give it a shot, and see if I can do it?’”

McKee spent eight years as a lawyer in commercial litigation before deciding in 2004 that he wanted more creativity in his career. He became deputy general counsel at Meharry Medical College and then general counsel and chief administrative officer for the nonprofit Soles4Souls. At the latter, he oversaw business development and micro-business operations in Haiti, Tanzania, and Honduras that provided shoes and clothing to the poor.

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Universities have some of the most talented minds in the world and provide access to millions of dollars of resources, and, all of this is aggregated in space and placed together. Yes, universities are creators of intellectual capital, but they can also be creators of economic growth and social impact that can transform the world for generations to come. With such potential, universities have a moral duty to help nurture a culture of innovation and doers to enable the translation of ideas for the public good.

So how does UNC measure up to this task? Invited to share its success story, and, in the spotlight in front of higher education practitioners, the answer is one of the nation’s best practices. Although Carolina continuously strives to reach for higher excellence, Tar Heels can take a moment to be proud of the campus where they learn.



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