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Spending the Summer with Social Contract

Rishab Malhotra, Staff Writer

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This past summer, I had the opportunity to work with Social Contract on the McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative at offices in the Hercules building located in Wilmington. Due to my prior experience in entrepreneurship, design, and innovation, I was hired as a creative development intern to help with the program. The initiative contains three programs: Dual School, University One, and the CRM. The main goals of this initiative are to improve economic development in Wilmington through entrepreneurship and innovation. There is not a lot of entrepreneurship activity happening amongst high school students, and the McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative is here to help maximize and bring together assets in the Wilmington area to help solve this problem.

The program that we spent the most time on was the Dual School. Dual School is a student “Idea Incubator” that offers an unprecedented learning experience. This program welcomes students from any Delaware school, and is solely designed for students whose potential may not be maximized by their current school setting, but have a passion for a problem they seek to change in the world. When I started, Dual School was a very abstract idea that we had to make concrete. The toughest part was finding where to begin. We started by searching for assets that could be useful for the program. Meghan Wallace (CEO of Social Contract) and I made numerous site visits and had meetings with different teachers to assess the field. It quickly became clear to us that there were many motivated people, and that we clearly had the support for our idea. By the end of July, we shifted our focus to designing Dual School. To create the school, we needed input from students and teachers. To get the information we needed, we held three design sprints in which we got input from a variety of different people, including Mark Murphy (CEO of Griptape), Hi-tech High from California, many entrepreneurs from the University of Delaware, and many high school students from across the country. Through these design sprints, the implementation and image of Dual School began to take shape. Currently, the school is still in the creation phase with applications opening in September followed by the launch of the pilot in October.

From one of these design sprints I got connected with Mr. Creighton Anderson, a teacher at Salesianum. I had no idea how interested he was in design-thinking and innovation. After talking and discussing about each other’s backgrounds, Mr. Anderson offered me a co-teaching opportunity to implement my curriculum from my company into his “Applied Design Thinking”
class. I was amazed at the opportunity I had; I could make a big impact on the student’s high school career by providing them with the resources and knowledge to further an idea that they are passionate about.

I had one experience that led me onto a path of many more experiences and opportunities that I had previously never deemed possible. Generally, students get intimidated by trying new things or meeting new people, but doing the opposite can unlock pathways not available to you before. These pathways are key to everybody’s success and can only be achieved if you make the diligent effort to pursue them. To achieve this, you need to stray away from the standard and constantly push yourself to experience new things. In my eyes, every individual is the creator of his or her own success; it is up to them to take hold of that and propel it further.

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Spending the Summer with Social Contract