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CSU Channel Islands Receives Grant for New California Institute for Social Business

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation provides a three-year, $300,000 award to launch the project

CSU Channel Islands has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for the new California Institute for Social Business.

This is the first gift to CISB and will be used to begin laying the foundation for staff building, curriculum development and defining research.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of Grameen Bank, was the originator of the concept of microcredit and social business as a means to eliminate poverty among the poorest of the poor. He will participate in the strategic direction of the institute, the first of its kind in the nation.

Steven Hilton, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, has a long-standing relationship with Yunus and is very supportive of his groundbreaking work in microcredit and social business. Yunus has served as a juror for the foundation’s annual humanitarian prize, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. CI awarded the first Yunus Social Innovation Medal to Hilton, presented by Yunus, last March at a ceremony launching CISB.

Social businesses are set up to solve a social problem, such as malnutrition or poverty, and, once the business is running, the investors may stay in the business or request the return of their original investment, but they do not take dividends.

All profits are reinvested in the business to sustain its work. Sustainability is the difference between a social business and philanthropy which solves social problems through grants that are not repaid and generally last only for a specified time.

CISB is scheduled to begin in fall 2011 offering core classes to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“Our mandate is to find ways to get students and faculty into the field to study local, national and international social businesses,” said CISB’s new faculty director, Dr. Andrea Grove, associate professor of political science at CI. “There is no model for this institute. We will establish the prototype.”

Grove said she is excited by the potential the institute has to have impact on all levels, locally, nationally and internationally. She mentioned The End of Poverty, authored by professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University.

“In the foreword of the book,” she said, “Bono writes about Sachs, saying, ‘We get crushed by problems like global poverty and he gets creative.’ I think that’s what CISB is all about.”

The Hilton Foundation grant is the first to help to endow the institute. The build-out plans include curriculum for undergraduate and graduate level studies, field research of existing social businesses, and an international social business competition.

— Robin Horne represents CSU Channel Islands.

 
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