Eastern Michigan University
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Eastern Michigan University joins Duke and Stanford in Social Enterprise Sector

Published August 28, 2014

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“Social enterprises are defined as any organization that has a social mission, regardless of whether it is for profit or not for profit,” said Michael Tidwell, dean of the EMU College of Business and interim CASE director. While social enterprises have existed for millennia, it has only been a few years since major universities like Duke and Stanford have mounted significant efforts to produce research and services for this multi-billion dollar sector. Eastern Michigan University recently joined their efforts by opening the Center for Advancing Social Enterprise (CASE).

CASE helps social enterprises improve sustainability and effectiveness by providing professional one-on-one, small group, and organizational consultative services in areas like business plan development, establishing metrics, finance and accounting, marketing, and operations, to name a few. Each of these consultative services is geared toward helping organizations become more entrepreneurial, innovative, and sustainable. In short, CASE is a catalyst for Michigan’s social entrepreneurship ecosystem, including social enterprises, the firms that fund them, the researchers that examine them, and the agencies that regulate them.

With a soft-launch in January 2014, CASE aims to be a resource for any Michigan organization seeking expertise in the social enterprise space. “The hope is that Eastern Michigan University will be a magnet and state leader for those seeking social enterprise resources,” said Jake Albers, the assistant director for external community partnerships at CASE. “We want to take on a broad section of the social sector and leverage the talent we have at the University.”

One of the ways in which the talent is leveraged is by the use of CASE certified faculty members. EMU faculty are involved in CASE by consulting with organizations in an effort to support their mission. Some of the recent CASE projects include capacity building, facilitating board retreats, market assessments, culture assessments, and grant proposal writing.

In addition to faculty, students will also be involved in CASE. Students will offer their services through academic service learning projects or through internships and possibly jobs.

“We want to help students get involved with clients,” said Paul Nucci, the assistant director for internal community partnerships at CASE. “We want to leverage their talent to help social enterprises and connect them to students for internships and eventually for jobs.”

Eventually, a series of education courses will be offered to the organizations that utilize CASE resources. These classes will cover topics including how to develop a business plan, marketing for social enterprises, legal issues in the non-profit world, grant writing, and accounting.

“All social enterprises deal with separating themselves from the competition,” said Albers. “They have to compete and we want to help them get on the path to sustainability.”

For more information, visit the CASE webpage.

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473 Gary Owen Building
300 W. Michigan Ave.
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197

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