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2013 Social Enterprise MA Practicum Projects

Here is how our 2013 students applied their studies to complete a final practicum project.

Kate Burke

Improving Workplace Mental Health

Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation

Kate Burke applied the learning from the Social Enterprise program as an social intrapreneur at the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health (Partnership), a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation, based in Arlington, VA for her final practicum project. Kate applied both her own professional experience in human resources and managing staff, and the leadership insights gleaned from the Social Enterprise Program to suggest various organizational changes that brought efficiencies to the busy organization. For over ten years, the Partnership has educated and provided various resources to employers. These resources exist so that employers might better create mentally healthy workplaces as well as provide support and access to quality and effective care so that employees and their families living with mental illness, including substance use disorders, receive effective care. This work is informed by the recognition that employers purchase healthcare for millions of American workers and their families. Kate also worked to put in place monitoring and evaluation tools so that the Partnership can share details of the impact of their great work with the public. This knowledge will continue to influence the positive change in the fundamental societal structure of the workplace.

Thuy Dinh

Participatory Filmmaking for Women's Voice in Economic Development

Oxfam International

Thuy Dinh initiated a new prototype project entitled H.E.A.R (Hear-Engage-Amplify-Resonate) that is based on the concept of participatory filmmaking to promote understanding and cooperation between people, communities and key players in international development. The pilot field implementation was in Lao Cai, a northwestern mountainous province of Vietnam where Thuy partnered with Oxfam’s Livelihoods Program to work with a group of ethnic women in Oxfam’s Women Economic Leadership project. In the period of 2 weeks, a participatory 18-min documentary was produced and screened to the community. The film was directed, filmed, narrated and edited collaboratively by a group of 8 Hmong , Kinh and Nung women. The movie not only helped Oxfam to gain a better understanding of the women voices, with implication for future adaptation to other projects but also provided input for their upcoming mid-term review in June 2013. A guideline was also passed to the Oxfam’s staff for future experience exchange among its different programs.

Amy Gillespie

Do Good Images

Amy Gillespie founded a one-for-one social enterprise photography business, and has begun the process of launching it. Amy’s social enterprise, Do Good Images, provide consumers with the option of choosing a one-for-one movement company for their photography needs. When a customer purchases a photography session, apprentice hours are donated. Family 2 Family Images supports and operates an apprentice program which provides photography lessons and equipment to DC youths.

Jennifer Hartzell

Lowering Barriers to Going Green

Innately Brilliant

Jennifer Hartzell launched Innately Brilliant, a social enterprise working to lower the barrier to the green movement for low to middle-income populations & disrupt the connection between income disparities and health disparities. Many personal care products contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems and Innately Brilliant is addressing the issues around consumer awareness, access to products good for people and planet, and guidance around D.I.Y. recipes. The Innately Brilliant website is in the process of establishing a social media presence on Twitter for awareness, starter kits of travel-sized products for purchase, and community generated & rated D.I.Y. recipes.

Jeremy Jensen

Building Communities of Activists

tectonic with wave pattern through text

Jeremy Jensen and Jason Smith created tectonic, an online community and marketplace for active lifestyle enthusiasts that rewards users for engaging in issues that are important to them. Increasingly, consumers want more from brands than just another product. They are practical purchasers that are values-driven and want to be part of a meaningful story. In short, they are searching for purpose in the buying experience. tectonic aims to deliver that purpose during every conceivable interaction with the brand. Jeremy and Jason used the practicum process to incorporate the business, design creative assets, build a community of advisors and partners, search for interns and co-founders, devise a marketing strategy, and build a customer base. Jeremy plans to use the foundation built during the practicum process to launch the company after graduation.

Kate McElligott and Sara Telzer

Enouraging Innovation in Philanthropy

The Case Foundation

Kate McElligott and Sara Telzer worked with the Case Foundation’s “Be Fearless” Campaign. This practicum project was created in order to assist the Case Foundation in its efforts to better understand the root causes of risk avoidance and fear of failure by grant-makers and grant-seekers, and to support a more conducive environment for innovation and philanthropic experimentation. The project leveraged the already established Be Fearless campaign – the Case Foundation’s campaign to ignite a more fearless approach to changemaking. Our goal was to carry out an assessment of foundation and nonprofit industries’ appetites for risk, failure and innovation.

Kerri Murphy

Partnering for Financial Sustainability


Kerri Murphy worked with Kolton.J, an eco-vinatge jewelry company in Washington, DC for her practicum. Kolton.J was looking to become a more socially responsible business than its current practice of donating 10% of profits to charity. Kerri laid the groundwork for the creation of a partnership program between Kolton.J and the DC Fashion Foundation, which will create jobs and provide art therapy and other training for disadvantaged women in the Washington, DC area.

Michael Sayre

Promoting Eco-Tourism in Mexico

Solimar International with yin yang sun

Over the course of his practicum, Michael Sayre worked with Solimar International, a tourism consulting firm based in Washington, DC, with the mission of helping businesses, travelers, and destinations develop and connect to sustainable tourism experiences that support environmental conservation, preserve cultural heritage, and enhance the lives of local residents. Michael helped develop the business model for a conservation lodge in Baja California Sur, Mexico focused on attracting impact investors interested in sustainable tourism, as well as an investor outreach strategy for Solimar International’s projects in Mexico along the Texas border.

Sara Seavey

Providing Entrepreneurship Training to Immigrant Women

Empowered Women International with abstract illustration of woman and stars

Sara Seavey worked with Empowered Women International (EWI), a Washington DC- area nonprofit that provides entrepreneurship and skills training to immigrant, refugee, and low-income women, and improves the women’s self-sufficiency. She rebuilt EWI’s monitoring and evaluation system so that EWI can better translate the social, economic, and community impact of their Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) program. Ms. Seavey also worked with EWI to build up their organizational capacity by creating a procedural manual for staff for the M&E system, and conducted research that can be included in grant applications so that EWI can receive more funding from foundations

Stevie Valdez

Reducing the Risks in Investing in Clean Cooking in East Africa

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Stevie Valdez worked with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private initiative of the United Nations Foundation to provide infrastructure and guidance on their grant investments into the clean cooking sector, helping to bridge the gap between grant and impact investments. Stevie created an impact investment database, reporting template for grantees, investment readiness tools, and a growth stage assessments of many of their partners in East Africa. She was able to use the growth stage assessments to create a regionally appropriate fund for the growth of clean cooking businesses in East Africa.

Setra Yappi

Increasing Higher Education Attainment and Youth Employability written on graduation cap

Setra Yappi founded, an online “one-stop shop” providing free admissions information at Indonesian universities to bridge the gap between Indonesian high school students and resources that empower them to pursue college education. The mission is to increase higher education attainment and youth’s employability in Indonesia. It was a multi-stakeholder initiative, where works with schools and universities nationally, as well as youth organizations and businesses. Setra’s practicum was designed to explore the operational principles of a cooperative model and apply them to as a social enterprise. Challenges to doing this were identified which involved Sarjana's business model needing to be enhanced so its regulations and organizational culture would allow democratic decision making and profit sharing by its employees.