Beneficial State Foundation Perspectives

Our thoughts on changing the banking system for good and building the new economy

5 ways to go back to school with social entrepreneurship


It’s been three years since I turned in my last final for the MBA program at Portland State University. Enough time has passed that back to school season this year is making me long for the structure of homework and the camaraderie of classmates. The more I work on movement building to align our financial systems with triple-bottom-line business models, the more I want to learn about social entrepreneurship in action around the world. I think movement building benefits from an attitude of lifelong learning, of always going back to school in some way. Whatever social, economic or environmental justice issue you’re committed to serving, I invite you to join me in starting a brainstorm list or a doodle in your notebook and setting new goals for learning about the dynamic field of social impact business.

Here are 5 ideas for how to “go back to school” with social entrepreneurship and resources to explore.

Pursue a degree or certificate.

In particular, look into the Ashoka Changemaker Campus program, which identifies higher education institutions committed to social innovation across disciplines. We have several Changemaker Campuses in our Beneficial State Bank geography, including UC San Diego, University of San Diego, Claremont McKenna, Portland State University and Western Washington University. Here are specific degrees and certificates my colleagues or I have completed and highly recommend:

Apply for a fellowship.

Short-term leadership, research or service programs designed to create community and achieve collective impact can be catalysts for incredible learning. More affordable than a full degree (and many have scholarships to cover the program/application fees), the fellowships below are worth exploring. And keep searching to find others that fit your interests!

Help the youth in your life discover social entrepreneurship.

Young kids are often drawn toward invention and entrepreneurship, and they can teach us a lot about idea generation and the power of imagination to create possibilities. Nurture this in the children around you! Share these resources with family and friends:

Research a social innovation conference and add it to your calendar.

I know time is precious and there are endless events to chose from, but I am a big believer in protecting the time and space to come together in community. Find a convening, join in, and as my personal motto goes, “make special happen.”

Start a social impact content club.

Pick some dates with your friends. Read books and articles. Watch documentaries. Listen to podcasts. Read recipes and food justice frameworks and cook together from cookbooks that explore how to heal our food systems. Create your own learning in community. Use these ideas to start a list of what you can do together:

I encourage you to get in touch with me regarding other ideas, resources and comments on the topic of learning about social entrepreneurship. You can reach me at

Kate is Beneficial State Foundation’s Community Engagement Officer based in Portland, OR.

This blog post reflects the author’s personal views and opinions. It does not represent the views and opinions of Beneficial State Bank and/or Beneficial State Foundation.