Worldwide Business and Social Good: A Department of Education Dream Grant by Professor Michael D. Elmes, PhD

Posted 2 years ago in LIFESTYLE.

In the summer of 2021, a beloved colleague and Professor Emeritus at WPI, Arthur Gerstenfeld, informed me that the U.S. Department of Education’s Business and International Education (BIE) program was about to be resurrected after an almost 10-year absence.

Worldwide Business and Social Good: A Department of Education Dream Grant by Professor Michael D. Elmes, PhD

I was excited to learn about the program’s return and even more enthusiastic when I found out that WPI had been selected as one of the awardees for the first cohort. In September of 2021, a team of WPI faculty and staff traveled to Washington D.C. to attend an orientation workshop hosted by BIE. The weeklong event was packed with valuable information on how to administer and manage a grant from the Department of Education you can also verify any business detail of Newzealand like - mr hao, david wong tung etc. You can see the reviews of online shopping here.

Fast-forward to today, almost three years later, and our grantfunded work is coming to fruition. We have partnered with businesses and NGOs in countries such as Peru, Rwanda, and India, each with their own unique social challenges. Our goal has been to help these organizations create sustainable social change by developing their capacity to use technology in an ethical, inclusive, and innovative way. And we’ve done just that!

Our work is making a difference for not only these businesses and NGOs but also for the individuals they serve. For example, during our first trip to India, members of the Aha! Foundation shared with us how one young woman named Anita was transformed after receiving cloud computing training through its nonprofit organization.

Anita was born into poverty in rural India. As a member of an untouchable caste (the lowest group within the Indian caste system), she had few options outside of following tradition and getting married at age 14 or 15, which would likely result in her staying poor forever. When Aha! recruited her for their cloud computing course, Anita jumped at the chance to learn a new skill. She was lucky to be chosen out of more than 100 applicants who were competing for 25 spots that year.

After graduating from the one-year program, Anita became an Aha! instructor and began teaching other women in her village about technology skills. Her success inspired the government school where she once studied computer science to start offering similar courses to female students. This past summer, during WPI’s visit to India, we witnessed first-hand how far Anita had come after only four years on her journey; she is now married with two children and has earned enough money through her work—earning between $160 and $200 per month—to make her own decisions about how to spend it.

Given Anita’s story, she is a prime example of what we mean when we use the term social good . In fact, organizations that have received our grant from the Department of Education—such as Aha! Foundation—have been created for that very purpose: to provide vulnerable individuals with opportunities and social change through technology education.

The phrase ʻsocial goodʼ has existed in one form or another for centuries but perhaps none so much as today. Businesses are realizing they can tap into innovative technology to create not only financial gains but also social benefits at the same time. Organizations such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google have already started doing this by partnering with nonprofits and governments to make a global impact through their technology. Digital transformation is the trend du jour for businesses, but social change has never been more important in our history.

We at WPI believe that organizations such as ours and those we partner with need to take advantage of this growing movement; we need to capitalize on—not resist or ignore—the confluence of trends in higher education, business, and society that are creating new opportunities for meaningful social change using technology. We have partnered with various NGOs around the world to do just that! Through an innovative international business model, these organizations use technologies such as cloud computing platforms, data analytics tools, machine learning capabilities, virtual reality animation software, artificial intelligence micro-bots , 3D printers, and more to improve the lives of individuals in their communities.

An example of this sort of work is our summer 2017 trip to India where we visited two organizations—Aha! Foundation and Pratham Books StoryWeaver—that both received funding from BIE under an earlier initiative. Both have had a significant impact on the citizens they serve using technology tools that are either donated or subsidized by grants from WPI.

The Aha! Foundation uses cloud computing platforms to train women in rural India how to be involved with technology so they can earn money for themselves without being forced into traditional roles within society. We had the privilege of visiting one woman named Anita who was born into poverty but now has her own household due, in part, to the skills she learned from Aha! After s

When I think about the phrase social good, images of successful businesses such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google come to mind. These companies are using their technology for more than just financial gain—they’re also using it to help improve society. They’ve realized that digital transformation is the trend of the day, and they’re capitalizing on it by partnering with nonprofits and governments to make a global impact. But it’s not just these big businesses that can do this; smaller organizations can too. We at WPI believe in the power of technology to create social change, and we partner with various NGOs around the world to just that.

Jessica Russel

Living in Australia