Collins gift supports social entrepreneurship

September 2010

Arthur D. Collins, Jr. ('69) has committed $250,000 to increase financial assistance for students who wish to participate in Miami's international social entrepreneurship programs.

A new gift to the Farmer School's Center for Social Entrepreneurship is designed to boost the number of students participating in hands-on sustainability projects in developing countries.

Arthur D. Collins, Jr. (Business Administration '69) has committed $250,000 to provide financial assistance to Miami students who wish to gain experience in direct-impact social entrepreneurism. Part of the money will form an endowment for scholarships; the balance will act as a revolving loan fund. Students who request financial assistance will receive half as a scholarship and half as a loan, which is consistent with how many social entrepreneurship programs work.

"These funds will have a tremendous effect on the number of students who are able to participate in our social entrepreneurship summer programs," said Brett Smith, director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship. "For students interested in a career related to social entrepreneurship, these programs are essentially an international internship."

The center began offering such opportunities in Nicaragua in the summer of 2009; this past summer the programs were expanded to include Guatemala, and Ecuador will probably be next, Smith said. Programs consist of an online academic component to prepare participants for their project, followed by several weeks of work helping communities develop economically sustainable ventures. Students earn academic credit for the online portion of the program; they gain valuable life lessons and cross-cultural understanding during the second.

"Art Collins understands the transformational power of hands-on learning in an international setting," said Farmer School Dean Roger L. Jenkins. "By making student participation affordable, his gift will spark enrollment in these very important social entrepreneurship programs, increasing both students' learning and the impact of their efforts."

Collins, a member of the Farmer School's Board of Visitors, is retired Chairman and CEO of Medtronic. "My family and I have been actively involved with a number of organizations that are focused on helping people build sustainable enterprises to alleviate, and ultimately eliminate, the poverty in which they live," he explained. "Miami students should have every possible opportunity to contribute to and learn from such ventures. We felt that combining this mission with the Farmer School's goal of creating study abroad opportunities for all of its students was a perfect win - win scenario."