Kellogg to award $80,000 for ‘socially mindful’ program

Sean Lavery

The Kellogg School of Management is set to award one of its students $80,000 to create a socially mindful organization following graduation.

2009 Kellogg graduate Keita Suzuki, inspired by his son, had an idea that would benefit children with high-functioning autism. He discovered research that pointed to a higher capacity for repetitive computer coding in adults with autism and sought to create a for-profit marketplace that would train these adults for jobs. Through generous monetary gifts from Kellogg professors, as well as other leaders from the Carol and Larry Levy Social Entrepreneurship Lab, Suzuki was able to establish the company in his home country of Japan, said Jamie Jones, Associate Director of Social Enterprise at Kellogg,

The new Kellogg Social Entrepreneurship Fellow Award is an expansion upon Keita’s success and an effort that aims to support social entrepreneurs from the NU graduate school. Applications were due on Jan. 10, and decisions will be made mid-April following several finalists’ demonstrations in front of a panel of judges.

Jones said she hopes the award will support innovation among graduate students.

“Many students have the skills, but they’re hesitant because of financial issues,” Jones said. “We saw great ideas and wanted to find a way to bridge that gap.”

Jones said the Levy Lab supports graduating students financially as well as through mentorship and programs designed to validate ideas.

“Keita’s offer was being deferred due to the state of the economy in 2009,” Jones said. “Just like everyone else.”

Jones said the capital raised in part by Kellogg professors allowed other investors to feel more comfortable acting upon an idea in a risky economic environment. The winners of the award will have to prove both their commitment to the project and the ability to make $80,000 into a solid investment.

“We want to make sure it has the right scope and impact,” Jones said. “$80,000 is a lot of money.”

Jones said the five or so applications cover a broad range of ideas providing advancements in technology, water issues and even education in India.

“The applications are just all over the place,” Jones said. “We didn’t get as many applications as I expected, but we’re really asking students to show commitment.”

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