The Weber School and Rubicon Build a Replicable Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship for High Schoolers

Atlanta, GA (December 14, 2016) – The Felicia Penzell Weber Jewish Community High School in collaboration with the University of Kentucky Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship and the Atlanta-based waste and recycling company Rubicon have created the first ever Weber Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship program for teens, with the goal of inspiring and mentoring the next generation of business leaders.

This first of its kind course, instituted in August 2016, brings to life the principles and concepts of entrepreneurship for students. A particular emphasis is placed on the notion that ethically and socially responsible leadership is the way forward for sustaining a vibrant and healthy global economy and planet.

The Fellowship’s Goals

Areas of focus include discovering good ideas for business, building a road map for product creation, understanding a market for products, understanding customer needs and wants, marketing, sales, people management, responding to crisis situations, managing negotiations, presenting to investors, fundamentals of business law and understanding business risk.

The fellowship course is led by Professor Mark Settles, a former managing director of JP Morgan Chase who led the company’s efforts around diversity recruiting for seventeen years. Settles’ instruction of the course is a unique opportunity for Weber students to learn from a tenured business professional at the high school level.

Under the direction of Professor Settles, twenty-two Weber students, mostly seniors, pursue in-depth analysis of the following seven topics, referred to as “modules,” which equip students with the tools needed to do good in the community in which they do business:

  • Leadership
  • Business Ethics
  • Philanthropy
  • Entrepreneurship in Israel
  • Social Media and Social Networks as a means of responsible leadership
  • Negotiations
  • Social Entrepreneurship

Students work throughout the year to build their own business plans based on these modules and learnings, resulting in a final business pitch deck, investor presentation and full business plan as the students’ end of year project.

The Weber Model: Fellowships

“We deeply appreciate the partnership with Rubicon, which was enabled by their General Council and Chief Risk Officer and Weber School parent, Michael Heller, and his son and Weber student Aaron Heller, for envisioning this unique partnership between Rubicon, the University of Kentucky and The Weber School,” said Rabbi Edward Harwitz, Head of School, The Weber School. “We are proud that such a large number of students, under Mr. Settles’ leadership, have advanced this unique educational model. In addition to our PR & Marketing Fellowship and Teaching Fellowship, The Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship is an exemplar of Weber’s mission.”

A Bit of Weber History

Murray Friedman, Jewish Community Leader and CFO of Coca-Cola North America, established the Friedman Family Endowment to support the Entrepreneurship Program at The Weber School when Michael Axelrod, Weber alumni parent and supporter and Jewish Community Leader began teaching the course on Entrepreneurship in 2012. The course was put on hiatus last year so that Settles could create the curriculum for the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship.

Why Rubicon?

As part of the program, Weber students in the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship have virtually unlimited access to key employees at Rubicon throughout the school year. The company began as a technology startup with a bold idea in 2008: create a cloud-based, full service waste and recycling solutions company providing low-cost, highly efficient, and environmentally friendly services anywhere in the country through a national network of independent waste haulers and recyclers. Today, Rubicon is the worldwide leader in sustainable, cloud-based waste and recycling solutions with operations in all 50 states and 18 countries.

“At Rubicon, we’re committed to providing successful, sustainable opportunities for businesses and the community,” says Michael Heller, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel, Rubicon. “Working with the students of The Weber School and inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs is just one more way that we can help build a more sustainable future.”

Rubicon senior staff frequently visit the Weber Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship class and discuss topics relevant to the exploration of the interaction between profit, people, and planet.

A Field Experience at Rubicon Headquarters

Weber Social Entrepreneurship Fellows recently visited Rubicon headquarters to meet with Rubicon Founder, Chairman and CEO, Nate Morris, and other senior leaders. For many students, this was the first time inside the operations of a business enterprise.  The visit included an employee-led exploration of a Harvard Business School case study featuring Rubicon, internship discussions and a presentation by guest speaker, Steve Koonin, the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks. Koonin’s presentation reinforced many of the business principles the class studied this semester, and Rubicon’s placement of the Fellows directly in front of Koonin allowed the students a unique perspective of one of Atlanta’s most successful executives.

The Impact

As a follow up to the meeting held at Rubicon, Paul Ginburg, Associate Head of The Weber School, wrote a thank you note stating: “The most important lesson that the students carried with them as they left that Tuesday afternoon meeting was that business leaders are approachable. The less shy asked questions to a prominent CEO in a room full of 300 people. Others spoke with Morris about Rubicon and one confidently asked him about an internship. When another student, who was more introverted, asked me about contacting Nate’s wife to join her in assisting victims of human trafficking, I knew our partnership was beginning to realize our hopes and dreams. The students, the third cog in our important relationship, want to take advantage of the opportunities we together are presenting to them.

“Rabbi Harwitz, Mark Settles and I are extremely appreciative of your involvement in our Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship. Despite being completely focused on growing your global business, you and your colleagues still find time to be gracious and accommodating to our students. They have a deeper understanding of our curriculum and are more enthusiastic about the course because of your engagement. Thank you for your willingness to help educate our students.”

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