Johns Hopkins Gazette | March 2, 2009
Gazette masthead
   About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 2, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 24
Introducing HOP-SIP

The team at Johns Hopkins, one of four universities piloting the Changemaker Campus Initiative, includes co-director Philip Leaf, student Jerome 'Axle' Brown and co-director Bill Tiefenwerth, photographed here in the Waverly neighborhood.
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Universitywide program created to champion social entrepreneurship

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

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 engagement.

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 Hopkins.

"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 delivered."

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 global problems.

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 campuses.

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 stop there."

Leaf said that HOP-SIP will also help Johns Hopkins students, staff and faculty coordinate with community partners.

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 Mayor's Office.

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 SOURCE.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |