Students Work On Social Awareness Along With The Bottom Line

By Samantha Christmann
The Buffalo News, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Social Impact Fellows program at the University of Buffalo culminates in a “pitch for a cause” competition, where students present the problem they’re hoping to address and spell out how they’ll use prize money to address it.

The Buffalo News, N.Y.

As a young Boy Scout, Warren Emblidge Jr. was taught to leave his campsite cleaner than how he found it.

Today, as chairman of 150-year-old Swan Street company McCullagh Coffee Roasters, he feels the same responsibility toward the environment.

So, he took what he knows best — coffee sourcing, production and distribution — to come up with an entrepreneurial way to reduce the amount of waste that ended up in landfills each year. The result was EcoVerde, a line of Rainforest Certified coffee in 100 percent compostable packaging.

There was only one problem.

“Nobody bought it,” Emblidge said.

But, as an advocate for “impact investing,” he remained convinced that for-profit companies can help address societal problems, not just for the social outcomes but for the financial ones as well. So he kept pursuing it, and he brought on University at Buffalo students to help him reimagine a solution.

Over the summer, one intern from UB’s School of Social Work and one from its School of Management joined forces at McCullagh examined the problem. They crafted a detailed plan to create a separate food waste collection company called Ecoverde Organics. It will collect food scraps from McCullaugh’s commercial customers and turn them into compost.

If two heads are better than one, it’s best those two heads each see the world very differently.

That’s the philosophy driving a partnership between the Schools of Management and Social Work, and UB’s new Social Impact Fellows program that sponsors the interns along with entrepreneurial mentoring program Blackstone LaunchPad.

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