Nashman Center holds first Changemaker Week to encourage active citizenship

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The Nashman Center's Changemaker Week comes after the University received a selective award for community engagement late last month.

Officials are hosting several events this week to highlight “social innovation” and encourage students, faculty and staff to get involved with their community.

The Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service’s GWupstart initiative – a program within the center designed for social innovation training, mentoring and funding – is holding the first annual Changemaker Week to help GW community members discover what resources they can take advantage of to become more active citizens. Amy Cohen, the director of the center, said the week is intended to highlight achievements on campus and inspire students to get more involved.

“We hope that participants will come away with a greater understanding of social innovation and with the inspiration to get involved,” she said in an email.

The week’s events span from Saturday, Feb. 1 to Friday, Feb. 7 and include a Social Innovation Workshop series, an event featuring faculty experts in climate action and clean energy and several events to teach attendees how to translate vision into change.

Cohen said Dania Castro, the program manager for social innovation at the Nashman Center, conceived the idea for the week. Cohen said Castro reached out to several other offices at GW – including the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and community organizations like Social Impact 360, a training organization for social entrepreneurs on college campuses – to find co-hosts for the week’s events.

“The programs offered by other GW partners during Changemaker Week are central to the work of those offices,” Cohen said. “GW has a very strong culture and strong offerings in social innovation and social entrepreneurship across the schools and University.”

She said she hopes the week’s events encourage students to try and effect change in their communities and apply for funding from the Nashman Center for their social innovation efforts. She said the center’s leaders also hope faculty members take advantage of grant funding available for “community-engaged teaching and research” efforts.

Cohen said her goal is to continue hosting the week in years to come, adding that the effort around Changemaker Week is “one of the many reasons” the University received the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, “the most prestigious award for university community engagement,” last month.

“We expect this week will become a regular feature of GW campus life and look forward to
working with other GW academic offices, programs, and student groups to plan next year’s Changemaker Week,” she said.

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