Noble Impact, an organization that engages people to pursue public service through entrepreneurship, held its first community engagement competition this Friday. The new venture, partnering with the Clinton School of Public Service and the Walton College of Business, launched in Little Rock this month.
37 students from seven high schools around the state, came together to participate in a two week institute. Steve Clark, CEO of the North West Arkansas based company Rockfish, developed Noble along with Clinton School Alumni. The Noble Institute program is one of three initiatives in the newly formed organization, alongside a speaker series and a curriculum.
"Thank you all to the judges for coming out and making time in your day to do this. To check out what we believe is the future, " said Chad Williamson, co-founder of the program.
The students, or "scholars" as they are referred to in the program, were split up into nine groups and assigned a community partner. Our House, The Oxford American, and Arkansas Commitment were among them. The students had to develop potential solutions to issues the various organizations are dealing with.
At the end of the two weeks, they pitched their ideas to five judges, families, and community members at the Clinton School.
The judges deliberated and a winner was chosen based on the skills and ideas the teens learned over the two week institute. Jordan Young, a student on the winning team said, "if you asked me like a month ago what could we do to change the world, I would have no idea, but now I've learned that anybody can make a difference, no matter what age, what size, what color, what anything."
Parents reactions were positive, saying the program is unique in encouraging group learning and team building throughout the two weeks. Founder, Steve Clark said the program is special.
"When we set this pilot in motion its hard to know where you're going to go with this. Seldom ever is public service mentioned in the same breath as entrepreneurialism. One of the reasons we wanted to go this route is two guiding principles, healthy things grow and healthy things are sustainable. That's just not for business, just not for deposits, it's for programs that affect change" said Clark.
Noble Impact started in Arkansas, but plans to grow nation-wide. It is a national educational initiative with a goal of putting public service and entrepreneurship in every school.