Youth Up Next!

Over the coming weeks, the Hunt Institute Digest will feature various members of the Inclusive Economy Consortium (IEC) Leadership Council, and the important work they are doing in the Dallas community. This week, we feature Candice Bledsoe, PhD., Executive Director of Action Research Center & Founder of the Collective. This Global Development Lab project focused more specifically on the Action Research Center’s Young Social Innovators & Social Entrepreneurs Program to create a young entrepreneurial toolkit called Youth Up Next. The Young Social Innovators & Social Entrepreneurs program is designed to foster creativity, innovation, and social entrepreneurship in Dallas/Ft Worth Area.  Furthermore, it is to enhance student’s leadership abilities through exposure to and practice with a broad array of leadership tools and concepts that emphasize self and group awareness, interpersonal communication and insightful analysis of resources and systems.

Youth Up Next is a toolkit designed to help student be change agents. Undergraduate Research Assistant Cambria Lewis is the project leader over the toolkit that offers turnkey solutions to the next generation. “The toolkit includes valuable information that is needed to for them to use social entrepreneurship as strategy to make change, “ says Lewis.  The Assistant Director of the Hunt Institute and Portfolio Manager of the Global Development Lab, Corrie Harris  says, “From stories of student entrepreneurs working with  SMU’s Office of Engaged Learning to funding models for social entrepreneurs, the Youth Up Next toolkit is a great resource for young people.”

“Creativity and innovation are a major component of social entrepreneurship. As I continue to support the underrepresented, I believe that students can play major role as change agents. They are very creative, innovative, and smart.  The Youth Up Next toolkit plays a major role in providing resources to help these young social innovators and social entrepreneurs make change in their communities,” says Dr. Candice Bledsoe.

As a Fellow in the Hunt Institute, Dr. Bledsoe helps shape the communication in the Institute’s various initiatives like the Social Enterprise. She teaches, “Storytelling and being a change agent go hand in hand.” As the executive director of the Action Research Center, she believes that it is essential to equip young change agents with tools to be successful.   The center promotes personal development, academic excellence, and social change.  They equip students, parents, teachers, and community leaders with the knowledge and skills to become change agents. Due to COVID-19, Dr. Bledsoe and the Action Research Center had to pivot to reach their students, teachers, and community leaders.  After a decade of having the Cutting Edge Youth Summit conference, this year the Virtual Cutting Edge Youth Summit reached their stakeholders online.

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