In Small Office, Big Ambitions To Promote World Peace
November 13, 2011
Right now, the Center For Social Entrepreneurship consists of a handful of cubicles inside a downtown office building.
But Daniel Doyle Jr. says the center's four employees and its handful of volunteers are working hard to make sure the center succeeds in its mission: fostering world peace.
The office is intended to pick up where the World Youth Peace Summit, held for the first time in West Hartford in the summer, left off.
During the summit, about 1,200 teenagers from all over the world were encouraged to create peace-related projects — big or small. The center was opened in late summer to help them cultivate their projects and follow through on their ideas.
Both the Center For Social Entrepreneurship and the World Youth Peace Summit are initiatives of the Institute for International Sport, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 1986. Doyle, a West Hartford resident, is the institute's executive director.
The center in downtown Hartford will primarily help develop boards of directors for new ventures and raise money, giving emphasis to projects in Connecticut and Hartford, Doyle said.
A symposium at Kingswood Oxford School is being planned for March to help kick off the center's efforts.
The Institute for International Sport rents 10 cubicles at 15 Lewis St. from the Hartford Economic Development Corp. Telephone and secretarial services are included in the $100-a-month rent. The economic development corporation provides such space at low rent for about a year to help new ventures get started, said the Executive Director Samuel Hamilton.
The center is Doyle's effort to expand on the World Youth Peace Summit which, itself, is connected to the World Scholar-Athlete Games, an event Doyle has operated for many years at the University of Rhode Island.
The scholar-athlete games were moved to West Hartford this year and were held in conjunction with the peace summit over nine days in June and July. Hundreds of youngsters attended both events, but attendance fell far short of Doyle's estimate of 2,500 for the sports event and up to 20,000 for the peace summit.
Organizers, however, deemed both events a success, attributing the lower numbers to visa problems and less federal funding.
Doyle said the peace center is ready to help anyone. While it will organize symposiums and other events, most of its interactions will likely take place through email, he said, such as coordination of student projects.
The center has begun its work by encouraging all 20,000 alumni of the scholar-athlete games to work on peace projects. It will then communicate with all Connecticut students, especially those in Hartford.
Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra welcomed the center's operations, saying that many city youngsters need to change their way of thinking, something peace-related projects might encourage.
"We can always police more, but when do you turn to a different model?" he said, explaining the need to tackle crime and violence in the city.
To help students carry out their projects, Doyle said the social entrepreneurship center will give out grants.
The center is expecting to solicit grant requests next month. A team of staff and volunteers will examine the applications and determine who will get money. Doyle expects to distribute about 75 to 100 grants in the first year, and he said the amount of the grant will vary depending on the project.
The grants will be underwritten by donations from the Hassenfeld Family Foundation. Alan Hassenfeld, former chairman and CEO of Rhode Island-based Hasbro Inc., is on the institute's board of directors. A grant from Atlantic Philanthropy also helps with expenses.
The ultimate goal is to fund an endowment, Doyle said, and the center will continue to raise money and apply for grants.
Tim Brennan, West Hartford's deputy mayor, is chairman of the committee working to establish the center and will help with fundraising.
"The world is small, and there's a lot of synergy," Brennan said. "We'll take advantage of that."
The institute survives solely on donations and grant money. The most recent financial data available is from 2009, and it shows that the institute brought in $850,258 that year.
In addition to helping with peace-related projects, the new social entrepreneurship center will spread its message about peace through lectures and visits to schools and organizations, Doyle said.
The center's kickoff event will be held March 10 at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford. It will be called the Butterworth-Woodiel Peace Lecture and Symposium after lifelong social activist Mims Butterworth of West Hartford and the late Flo Woodiel, who was chairwoman of West Hartford Citizens for Peace and Justice.
"These are two people who really understand peace," Doyle said.
Speakers for the event have not been announced, but the event will include panel discussions and a keynote speaker. Doyle says about 300 high school students from throughout Connecticut are expected to attend, as well as students from neighboring states.
A similar event for middle school students is being planned for next spring.
West Hartford resident Rob Gottfried, a drummer who performed at this summer's scholar-athlete games, will also work with the center and will help foster peace in Connecticut schools through music, beginning with four Hartford-area schools this spring.
For more information about the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, call 860-882-0864, extension 25, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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