At Penn State, a Former Frat House Becomes an 'Ideas Incubator'

The will bring together college students and working professionals to create change in the community.

Imagine as many as 60 entrepreneurial college students living under a single roof and being mentored by successful professionals in their chosen fields. That's the idea behind a social living project called in State College, Pennsylvania.

Starting in fall 2013, the world's first will be housed in a former Penn State fraternity house, and will even include two "chapter staff," like house moms, to chaperone the eclectic group of individuals. But the group has loftier goals than its dwelling might suggest: Organizers hope to cultivate an idea incubator that could lead to the creation of game-changing startups and nonprofits.

The idea for was developed by nonprofit "social innovation incubator" New Leaf Initiative. It grew out of an Ashoka U Exchange conference two years ago, and recently won Ashoka U and GOOD Maker's Exchange 60 Day Challenge. It was inspired by similar incubator models like The Embassy Network and the Unreasonable Institute.

Working with more than 50 student interns from Penn State, New Leaf built the framework that will serve as a model for other universities interested in the project: a two-year program for juniors and seniors that includes a semester of training, the opportunity to lead a semester-long project, a summer internship, and a personal mentor—plus a plethora of professional networking options in-house.
Spud Marshall, co-founder of the and executive director at New Leaf Initiative, says is designed to build connections between college students and professionals so they can create change in their community. "We want to focus on where the real learning happens, which is outside of the classroom. We wanted to keep conversations going at the kitchen table, living room, dining table, and we thought, 'How can we intervene in that space?'" he says. "'What if you take these large properties in various towns, build things where students live beside real people and entrepreneurs—a whole category of people that we get inspired by?'"
Rather than creating an entirely new network, Marshall hopes the will take advantage of existing ones through partnerships with organizations like Echoing Green and Ashoka U. The key is a balance between entrepreneurs and "intrapreneurs," dreamers and "doers." For now, the experiment will focus primarily on local food markets. Potential projects include starting a student farm at the university or figuring out how to transform food supply chains.

Twenty years from now, organizers, hope, there will be one incubator in every country in the world. The team is in talks with leaders from 30 different cities—from Tel Aviv, Israel to Kingston, Jamaica—to launch similar spaces there. Eventually, cutting-edge video technology will allow innovators, entrepreneurs, and consultants to stay in constant communication and collaborate on projects across the globe.


Want to learn more about GOOD Maker? Drop us a line at maker[at]goodinc[dot]com, sign up for our email list, or check out the current challenges.

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less