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Educating the next generation — and small businesses — on sustainability
By: Lora Winslow, Program Associate, Sustainable Economies Program
Manomet’s U360 program is shifting into high gear after a very successful 2016 launch. In the pilot year of the program, six students interviewed a total of 59 small businesses representing 11 states and 29 different industries to learn about their sustainable business practices and introduce them to our Root360 small business sustainability toolkit.
From left to right on the photo: Robert Jordan, USM student; Mary Allen Lindemann, Coffee By Design; Mac McCabe, Sustainable Business Consultant, Joe Walsh, Green Clean Maine and Karol Olszynski, USM student
To recap, U360 launched in January 2016 with a team of three undergraduate students from the University of Southern Maine (USM). In the summer, one College of the Atlantic senior was enrolled in the internship program, and she focused entirely on small businesses within the food sector in preparation for her senior thesis on food waste. The fall semester took place at USM again with two students enrolled.
Our pilot year was successful not only because of the learning outcomes for the students and the number of businesses that participated, but also because it led to one of the most exciting U360 achievements of the year: being awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grow the program. The $91,000 Environmental Education grant will allow us to offer the experiential internship program at five New England universities for two consecutive semesters. Manomet will be able to reach more small businesses and more students thanks to this support from the EPA!
After receiving the EPA grant, I spent the early part of fall reaching out to a dozen colleges that were identified as strong potential fits for the program based on academic programs, sustainability practices, internship requirements, and student body size. The response was incredibly favorable—every single college was excited about a program that would give their students applied learning opportunities outside the classroom, as well as work experience in the business sustainability field (an area that typically has few internship opportunities). Four universities will be participating in the spring 2017 semester: USM, University of New England, University of New Hampshire, and University of Vermont.
After interviewing all applicants, the school teams have been finalized and a total of 20 students are ready to begin their U360 internship this week! Each student is expected to interview 12-15 small businesses, which means up to 300 new businesses will be reached by the end of the semester.
The mentorship provided by Manomet includes a series of educational workshops and skills trainings to teach students about the principles of small business sustainability, help them to develop vital career skills, and prepare them for their direct engagement with small business owners. After completing the trainings, students will be ready to interview 12-15 businesses about their current practices (specifically about their environmental, social, and management practices). The semester ends with the students learning how to evaluate their businesses through a sustainability lens, and each student choosing a business to create a Case Study and Sustainability Action Plan (SAP).
We are very excited to announce that our final spring 2017 Capstone Event will include a live competition to select the best SAP of the semester. A winner from each school will compete in Boston and present a ‘mock pitch’ to a panel of small business leaders before an audience of Manomet Trustees, Councilors, and staff, along with business professionals and members of the community. This dynamic and educational event will be held the first week in May—stay tuned for details as the date gets closer. We hope you’ll be able to join us for this opportunity to see Manomet’s exciting new program in action!
For more information, visit our website or contact Lora Winslow at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to receive an invitation to the 2017 Capstone Event in Boston, please email Justin Barrett at email@example.com.