Six Lenses of Social Entrepreneurship
These lenses guide our work and help define the way learners see and envision the world through Social Entrepreneurship Education
Seen, Valued, and Celebrated
Social impact leaders often emphasize how the stories they remember from childhood (of experiencing an injustice, observing an act of kindness, or facing a hard-to-solve problem) became a formational tool for making a lifetime of difference. We ensure our students receive early exposure to all forms of story—reading, telling, and listening. We challenge them with interactive platforms like StoryCorps and Better World Ed. We line our bookshelves with literature centered around social impact. And our Grandparents' Day Story Lab and alumni interviews—held in the Scott Center podcast studio—connect us across generations. Together we’re building the skills to be responsible storytellers and empathetic story listeners because we know story is the entry point to a deep, meaningful partnership.
Find Your People
Civics is about knowing what communities you’re a part of and understanding how day-to-day participation shapes those communities. Here at the Scott Center, some dedicated 4th-grade leaders—along with a crew of determined lower school supporters—find their roles as community changemakers through our Social Impact Lunch Club. During working-lunch meetings, we’ve created a pop-up stationery studio and sent cards to students returning to school after the California wildfires. We’ve counted the trees on campus—and affixed “These Come From Trees” stickers to campus paper towel dispensers. As a club, we take action, and we also create a safe place for students to grapple with the core questions of “What matters to you?” and “What are you doing about it?”
Your Money is a Vote
Talking about money can be difficult because it illuminates complexities around privilege, race, geography, and family. We believe because we live within a shared system of finance, all of us—regardless of age—should understand our life-long agency to shape that system and the way it assigns value locally and globally through social, economic, and cultural capital. For our JK to 8th-grade students, studying finance means making Kiva loans and interviewing B Corp business owners. It also means planning fundraisers, practicing “Fair Trade”-style playground negotiations, and starting a financial literacy podcast series. As part of a design challenge in a sixth-grade elective, students even created an original social capital currency called “Hillbucks” to assign value to the causes that matter most to us.
Sustaining the Changemaker
Agency requires taking steps to address the local and global effects of your actions. When we took 14 students to the Island School in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas, we brought both individual and community agency to life by observing the impact of people on the planet. We learned the practices of sustainability: everything from aquaponics to green architecture to two-minute cold showers. We delved into the field of ocean preservation research, examining the impact of tourism and the best fishing practices for invasive species. Some students were so moved by their experience that they began projects of their own, like a social media movement to save our seas or a proposal for Disney World: BLUE, an experience focused on sustainability through play and imagination.
Ideas into Impact
Designing for good is about finding specific, inventive ways to make people feel valued, respected, honored, and seen. We strive to transform ideas into action by channeling the imaginations of our students and educators. When we joined forces with the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation to create a half-day workshop at the Savannah College of Art and Design, more than 40 representatives from 15 different schools and organizations rolled up their sleeves, grabbed their post-its, and created original social impact curriculum prototypes. Scott Center educators had a chance to design with people, planet, and our own students in mind! Several of these prototypes ended up in our Reach Beyond Block offerings back on campus, including “Fashion for People and Planet,” which explored the world of ethical fashion.
Reshaping the World
Systems change means reshaping social and environmental structures that perpetuate injustice. During the Reach Beyond Block “Sports Beyond Borders,” 5th to 8th graders considered the question, “How can the system of athletics be used as a tool for social change?” To deepen our understanding, we visited San Jose State’s “Power of Protest” exhibit featuring famous Olympic protesters. Later, students interviewed Hillbrook alumna Aly Wagner about being the first female Men’s World Cup broadcaster and an equal pay advocate. They also presented about current events in which athletes used their status to challenge systemic biases. Lively class discussions intersected topics of race, gender, ethnicity, ability, and equity. The takeaway? As long as we make the systems in which we live and work, we all have a role in shaping them.
Identity and Impact
Identity and Impact was first taught as a middle school elective and now runs as a course for the entire sixth-grade class, co-taught by the Scott Center team, DEI team, and sixth-grade team. I&I examines the intersection of personal identity and the changes that we want to make in the world. The course aims to answer the essential questions of “What is identity?” and “What does it have to do with making an impact?” by exploring the multi-faceted nature of both our own identities and others’ identities, considering how changemakers’ identities inform the impact they have on the world, and learning about different avenues for social impact. Ultimately, the course seeks to give students the chance to think deeply about the Scott Center’s core questions: what matters to you and what are you doing about it?
Social Impact and Leadership
SIL is a yearlong 8th-grade course run out of the Scott Center. Each 8th grader creates an impact project at the intersection of an issue that matters to them, their interests, their skills, and the technology available to them. Then, over the course of the year, they hone in on a specific proposal, seek feedback from peers and mentors, and iteratively develop their project before sharing their process with the community at the Social Impact Summit in the spring. This capstone course gives students the opportunity to combine all the skills of entrepreneurship, collaboration, and self-reflection that they have been developing during their time at Hillbrook and with the Scott Center.
Money Matters Elective
This 6th-grade Scott Center elective focuses on understanding how money and the system of finance can be used as a tool for social change. In the inaugural year, students learned about the history of currency and then embarked on a design challenge to create a social capital currency of our own which was later named Hillbucks.
Island School RBW
In April 2019 the Scott Center hosted an international Reach Beyond Week at the Island School in Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas to connect students to the frontlines of ocean preservation, sustainability, and local community impact projects.
Ethical Fashion RBW
In April 2018 the Scott Center hosted a Reach Beyond Week focused on sustainable shopping, conscious consumerism, and supply chain management. Students visited Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, CA as well as Poco Farms in Ojai, CA and Santee Alley in Los Angeles. Students also had the chance to meet with B Corp business owners and spend time with the owner of a Refille Shoppe.
California Roadtrip RBW
In April 2022, the Scott Center led a Reach Beyond Week that expanded on the 2018 Ethical Fashion trip, this time focusing on three themes: Farms, Food, and Fashion. The week began in Los Altos at Hidden Villa and ended in the greater Los Angeles area with visits to McGrath Family Farms and the Chumash Indian Museum. The days in between included meeting with NYT bestselling cookbook author Erin Gleeson, a visit to Gallardo's Organic Farm in Watsonville, CA, an indigo dyeing workshop, a beachside cooking class with local fish, a tour of the Patagonia flagship store, cooking our own meals with fresh farm ingredients, and much more. All the while the group explored the many intersecting industries, experiences, and histories that exist up and down the California coast!
Scott Center summer programming began in 2019 with the inaugural Water Warriors, a lower school camp where students explored ways to protect our oceans, rivers, lakes, and water sources and imagined what life as a superhero Water Warrior would be like. In Summer 2020, summer programming (largely virtual) expanded significantly, including camps such as Money Math, Empowerful Girls, the Civic Institute, Social Impact Stories and Bookmaking, E Cubed: Engineering, Entrepreneurship, and Ethics, Scott Center Summer Book Club, and many more. In Summer 2021 and 2022, programming was back in person and on Hillbrook campus with programs such as Harry Potter for Changemakers, Baking a Difference, Write a Musical, and Civic, Finance, and Design Institutes. Summer continues to be an important time for learners to dive deeper into the core elements of the Scott Center's work, all while having plenty of fun in the sun (and pool!).
Community Garden Design
This interdisciplinary partnership with sixth-grade English cultivated students’ ability to imagine themselves as social entrepreneurs and innovators with the agency to build and influence community. After reading Seedfolks by Paul Fleischmann, students were asked to design healthy communities of their own, centered around a garden space and reflective of one of the Sustainable Development Goals. They then presented their designs to a panel of judges, and the winning teams got to choose a non-profit tied to their project's SDG to receive a donation.
The Scott Center partnered with seventh-grade science teacher Brian Ravizza to develop a biomimicry unit in which students applied nature-based solutions to an issue in the world, which they identified through interviews, research, and self-reflection about what matters to them. Developed through many iterations, the projects included innovations such as using biomaterial grown from kombucha as a leather alternative that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sixth-grade math teacher Christina Tran-Kenyon and the Scott Center team partnered on a series of lessons called "Finance Fridays" in which students learned all about Kiva's lending model, dug into the details of how the system between borrowers, lenders, and community partners functions, and used their math skills to explore questions such as how many borrowers would need to fund a given loan at a given rate per borrower. These lessons quickly became student favorites and were an exciting way to integrate more DEIJA standards into math curriculum.
Social Impact Marketplace
Born of a partnership between the Scott Center and the Hillbrook Hub and taking place during the Fall Family Festival in October of 2021, the inaugural Social Impact Marketplace pulled together threads of design, advocacy, and making. Middle school students in Ms. Ngo's Digital Fabrication and Made to Sell courses went through a thoughtful and iterative design process to produce goods they could sell at the Marketplace. Meanwhile, sixth graders in Identity and Impact selected and created posters advocating for three local non-profits. Those who purchased products received a Hillbuck, the Center's own social impact currency, that they then allotted to one of the organizations, deciding where the profits from their purchase would be donated! The test run of this marketplace model produced exciting results.
Taste of Home
8th grader Soraya partnered with the Scott Center on her Taste of Home project in fall 2021. She first organized a school-wide drive for ingredients commonly used in Afghan cooking and then ran an after-school event during which parents, students, board members, and employees worked together to assemble these items into baskets that could then be delivered to Afghan refugees arriving in California. The project's aim was to make these new members of our broader community feel at home with this gesture of welcome filled with familiar tastes and smells.
8th grader Kaelen sought out partnership with the Scott Center for his Diaper Drive in February of 2021, which gathered donations of diapers and other new or gently used baby gear for the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Valley Medical Center. After hearing how many families in Silicon Valley struggle to afford these necessities for their babies and families, Kaelen rallied the community to respond, and the Drive ultimately collected 5,527 diapers. Volunteers from the Hillbrook community gathered to sort and pack up all the donations for delivery at the VMC Foundation.
Inspired by a story seen at the Tech for Global Good exhibit at the Tech Interactive, 8th-grade students dug into the topic of sustainable agriculture through aquaponics and hydroponics. Following this Capstone project and in collaboration with the Hillbrook science team, the Scott Center hosted a summer fellowship for faculty members at Ouroborough Farms in Half Moon Bay to learn more about sustainable farming practices. This experience turned into two 6-week aquaponics Reach Beyond Blocks, in which students built their own mini-aquaponics systems.
AQUAPONICS: any system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.
Holiday Shopping Guide
In December 2018, 7th- and 8th-grade students in the Social Entrepreneurship elective class researched businesses with a social impact focus and created the inaugural Scott Center guide for gift recommendations that benefitted people and the planet. Many of these companies were B Corps and/or used Fair Trade products.
WIFTTY (Women in Finance and Tech Teaching Youth)
The first ever student-designed, teacher-supported Reach Beyond Block was called WIFTTY. 8th grade girls gathered over the summer at the Scott Center to design a 6-week RBB that focused on sharing stories from women who have navigated careers in finance and tech.
Ice Cream Challenge
Doing good can also taste good! This was one of the first lessons of social entrepreneurship education during the inaugural Scott Center middle school elective. Students were tasked with using a B Corp mindset to design and pitch a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor that is “best IN the world and best FOR the world.” Examples included Honey You’re So Sweet; Run Forest Run; and Rainbow Rights. This lesson is now a Scott Center staple, and ice cream flavors have expanded to include SDG tie-ins!
From producing their own podcast as part of their SIL project to featuring as a guest on the Scott Center podcast, students at Hillbrook are finding many ways to engage with podcasting as an important form of social impact storytelling. During one project in collaboration with the 8th-grade integrated studies team, all 8th graders embarked on a Sustainable Development Goals podcast project, choosing a goal of their choice and connecting it to a social enterprise or non-profit that is working towards that goal.
Teal Pumpkin Project
The Scott Center partnered with the 3rd grade for a special Halloween project during Reach Beyond Block in October to dive deep into ways to make Halloween more equitable for all. This included learning about the Teal Pumpkin Project, which allows homes to be allergy and autism friendly by providing allergy-friendly treats and low-noise trick-o-treating. Students also had the chance to use their Halloween Hillbucks to donate to an organization of choice that provides support to families during the holiday season, such as Mexican Heritage Plaza, Uplift Family Services, and San Jose Family Shelter.