Social entrepreneurs: A new generation

Social entrepreneurship has become a youthful movement. Learn how you can gain similar skills through Michigan State University Extension.

It’s not a new concept or idea, as it has been going on for ages. Kings, emperors and world leaders have all used their resources to help the public. We see it still today among philanthropists: Carnegie, Rockefeller and Gates are just a few that have used their wealth to create foundations and programs that address some of our nation’s problems. Today, a new wave of individuals is joining the movement: millennials. This generation brings a youthful energy, a technological twist and a different perspective to social entrepreneurship and community service as they venture out in new ways to address local and world issues.

A recent Forbes article, “30 under 30: Social Entrepreneurs,” highlights individuals setting out to implement social change or address a social need. From tackling world poverty to empowering young girls, these young entrepreneurs are leaders now and will likely be in the future. But what do these millennial men and women have that sets them apart?

These dynamic young individuals are not leading with their wallet or wealth, but with their words and actions. Having grown up with technology, these millennials are tech savvy and use these skills to bring awareness, allocate assets and coordinate actions. Their ability to tap into social media and technology with creative ideas allows them to communicate to a mass audience, casting a greater net from which they can invite people to use, access, donate or support their cause. As a result, these millennials can design, develop and deliver social change.

Even if one is not deemed a top “30 under 30” in the world of social entrepreneurs, these same skills can be used by all youth as they strive to become good citizens who are successful in life. Youth can gain these skills through leadership and citizenship and youth entrepreneurship programs offered by Michigan State University Extension. Some of these programs focus on community service and addressing local concerns, while other address global issues. Both help to cultivate indispensable skills such as understanding diverse cultures, being flexible, thinking critically and developing community collaboration. These skills can both benefit and inspire youth, as well as advance their future careers.

In addition to developing the skills above, students planning to apply to colleges, universities and technical school should consider taking part in community service programs or projects. Postsecondary education institutions are looking for individuals, who have spearheaded a movement, held an office or gained civic recognition for their service. The individuals in the Forbes article are great role models for this and can provide some background on the issues they are passionate about, if youth are looking for ideas. If you’re a millennial, consider getting involved in your communities to help gain important skills and change the world.

For more information on these programs, visit the Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension sites.

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