Johns Hopkins is no stranger to social
entrepreneurship and community outreach. In fact, the
university's history in these areas can be traced back to
the school's founding.
In 1873, one of the nation's early social
entrepreneurs, Johns Hopkins, left what at the time
was the largest philanthropic bequest in U.S. history. The
$7 million gift allowed for the creation of
The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins
Hospital, two institutions that would advance
knowledge and improve society.
In an effort to strongly build upon this tradition,
the university has created the Johns Hopkins
Social Innovations Partnerships program, a universitywide
effort to foster and support social
entrepreneurship, social innovations and civic
The student-driven HOP-SIP, as it is known, will help
promote ongoing community-based
projects, champion the creation of new ones and link
projects between university divisions.
Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the university's
Center for Social
Concern and a co-director of
HOP-SIP, said that this program will effectively usher in a
new chapter of community service at Johns
"A lot of what we've done at the Center for Social
Concern, for example, is promote volunteer
community service, which in its nature is transient,"
Tiefenwerth said. "With HOP-SIP, now we're
looking to solve some long-standing problems rather than
remedy them. In a way, it's the difference
between tutoring a child and changing the way education is
The program's creation came as a result of the
Changemaker Campus Initiative, an effort
launched last year by Ashoka, a global association of the
world's leading social entrepreneurs. Ashoka
set out to create a network of campuses that foster a
culture of innovation and social change, and a
generation of students who can help tackle today's toughest
The initiative is being piloted at four universities:
Johns Hopkins, Cornell, George Mason and
Maryland. Ashoka created teams of select faculty, staff and
students from each school who will work
together to create, refine and implement an innovative plan
to strengthen social-entrepreneurship
teaching, research and student engagement on their
Johns Hopkins' plan resulted in HOP-SIP.
The JHU Changemaker team includes Tiefenwerth; Philip
Leaf, a professor in the
Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health;
and Mindi Levin, director of SOURCE,
Johns Hopkins' Student
Outreach Resource Center, which serves the schools of
Medicine, Nursing and Public Health. The team also
has six fellows, current students or
recent graduates who have been active leaders in social
causes. They are Jemma Alarcon and Jerome
"Axle" Brown, senior public health majors in the Krieger
School of Arts and Sciences; Abigail Crisman,
a student at the School of Nursing; Luke Kelly-Clyne, a
junior political science major in the Krieger
School; Adam Milam, a master of health science degree
candidate at the School of Public Health; and
Sonia Sarkar, a recent alumna who is currently working for
Project Health in Baltimore.
HOP-SIP will have four major goals: infrastructure
creation, course/academic development,
community collaboration and social marketing.
Leaf said that Johns Hopkins has always been committed
to community service and that the
current climate at the university points to an upsurge in
interest in social entrepreneurship.
The university has been instrumental in the founding
of several civic-minded organizations,
including the Urban Health
Institute, the Greater Homewood Community Corp., the Center for Social
Concern on the Homewood campus, the Student Outreach
Resource Center for the East Baltimore
campus and, more recently, the Baltimore Civitas School, a
city charter school operated by the Johns
Hopkins Center for Social Organization of Schools that
will have a prominent public service theme.
The university is currently collaborating with the
Baltimore Mayor's Office, Baltimore City Public
Schools, the Governor's Office and numerous faith-based,
business, social and community groups.
Leaf said that HOP-SIP will examine the landscape of
current community-oriented projects and
identify gaps in services.
"We want to serve in a leadership role and help
promote these programs that we've started and
move them forward, " Leaf said. "One way that we will move
things forward is to better link initiatives,
such as the Civitas School, with university divisions. At
first, we will help bridge ongoing projects at
the Homewood and East Baltimore campuses, but we will not
Leaf said that HOP-SIP will also help Johns Hopkins
students, staff and faculty coordinate with
Tiefenwerth said that right now the program is in its
very early stages.
"Currently, we are in the process of taking an
in-depth look at how we are helping attack
problems in Baltimore City," he said. "A year from now, I
envision a more free-flowing conduit of
services moving from the campus to the community."
One such effort that HOP-SIP will help move along is a
financial literacy program for Baltimore
middle school students that partners Johns Hopkins with the
Kelly-Clyne, who founded the financial literacy
program, which is called Save the Future, said
that HOP-SIP can help such an effort secure funding and
generate assistance from interested parties
at Johns Hopkins and in the community.
"[HOP-SIP] will create a synergy," he said. "Quite
often the only barrier to getting these
community projects off the ground is funding."
In April, HOP-SIP will be recruiting students to serve
as members of the program's steering
committee for 2009-2010. Applications will be available at
the Center for Social Concern and