Students in Social Entrepreneurship Class Work to Change Lives

By Chyelle Dvorak

Starting a non-profit business while attending college sounds difficult, but it may be more attainable than you think. At any age, students can learn the skills necessary to make a difference in their communities. For two Crown College students, Sophia Nienaber and Ethan Ness, this opportunity came through an introductory course to Social Entrepreneurship.

Sophia and Ethan are two PSEO (Post Secondary Enrollment Options) students from the HERO (Home Educators Resource Organization) homeschool co-op. Last fall, they participated in a hybrid PSEO class at their co-op through Crown College. The course, called Social Entrepreneurship, is designed to help students learn management, marketing, and financing skills. One of the class projects had students create a real non-profit organization that would make a difference in their community.

For Sophia, a personal experience motivated her to create her organization, Give Life… Give Hope.

“While my grandmother was giving birth to my mom, she lost too much blood,” says Sophia. “Doctors performed an emergency blood transfusion to save both of their lives.”

Because of her family’s experience, Sophia recognized her passion for helping those in need of blood transfusions. The Social Entrepreneurship course taught Sophia the skills necessary to start Give Life… Give Hope.

“Give Live…Give Hope is a non-profit organization that works to help collect blood for those who need it,” says Sophia. “In addition to blood drives, we recruit volunteers to help with service projects and make comfort bags for children with cancer.”

Sophia’s organization started out with a goal to raise $500 to create comfort bags for children with cancer. To accomplish their goal, Sophia set up an online fundraiser and applied for a $500 grant.

“Over the next two months, we raised $1,060.27 from the online fundraiser and grant,” says Sophia. “This amount far exceeded what we imagined being able to raise.”

With the skills she learned from taking the course, Sophia was able to make a difference in the Twin Cities. Without the hybrid PSEO program, Sophia wouldn’t have taken Social Entrepreneurship.

Darin Mather, the chair of the Online PSEO program at Crown College, says that the online and hybrid PSEO programs are continuing to grow.

“In our hybrid courses, students take their classes online with Crown’s credentialed instructors,” says Mather. “They also meet once a week for an hour and a half with Course Assistants supplied by the homeschool group or school. When combining our online and hybrid PSEO programs, student numbers have grown from 16 in 2016-2017 to 131 in 2017-2018. All signs indicate further growth for next year.”

With the development of the hybrid and online PSEO programs, more students can participate in classes such as Social Entrepreneurship. Ethan Ness, from the HERO homeschool academy, was another one of those students. He was able to start his project, Trinity Film Productions, as part of the class.

The mission statement of his new organization is to “produce high-quality films that point audiences around the world to Christ’s saving work.”

Ethan and his team used their skills to create something most students wouldn’t dream of doing. Trinity Film Productions avoids alienating non-Christians by making their content relatable for all audiences. With an emphasis on technical excellence, they strive to remain free from the secular influence of Hollywood.

“Social Entrepreneurship is helpful for students who want to start a business, but it is also designed for students who want to bring social change in their communities,” says Mather. “They learn the skills needed to start something that can have a positive impact on the world around them.”

Sophia Nienaber and Ethan Ness are just two examples of how young students can find ways to make a difference in their community.

“The course emphasizes character development,” says Mather. “It encourages students to think about ways to serve the community. These are skills and traits that will help them throughout life to benefit the world.”