Why today's youth are not our future
By Cindy Cooper, director, Portland State University Impact Entrepreneurs
At the 2013 Ashoka U Exchange in sunny San Diego, Eric Dawson, founder of Peace First, told a packed audience at the kickoff reception that youth are our present, not our future, and that to say anything less would be patronizing.
Ashoka is the world’s leading organization supporting social entrepreneurs. They’re changemakers using entrepreneurial approaches to create wide-scale solutions to social and environmental problems. Portland State University was designated as a Changemaker Campus last year by the Ashoka U campus program and several of us, including our Provost Sona Karentz Andrews, traveled to San Diego to celebrate the honor.
We learned a lot from Eric and others about what young people want from their work.
Eric is an Ashoka Fellow who launched the Peace First Prize, celebrating young people who have taken action to make their communities more peaceful. His premise is nicely encapsulated in the title of his recent Huffington Post article "Let’s Move Beyond Anti-Bullying and Become Pro-Kid."
Eric Dawson was one of many inspiring social entrepreneurs we met and learned from during the three-day conference. Working on the other end of the age spectrum from Eric, Encore.org founder Marc Freedman reminded us that the second half of a life is also a perfect time for finding “passion, purpose and a paycheck.”
Just 19 universities around the world have been honored by Ashoka for their leadership in teaching, researching and using innovation and entrepreneurship for societal benefit. This designation is both a boon and a testament to our efforts across PSU and with our partners in the business, public and nonprofit communities to create sustainable solutions to our most pressing social and environmental problems.
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