$25 Million Gift Advances Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara

African Clean Energy (ACE) is a Lesotho based company that produces an efficient biomass cookstove is currently participating in the Miller Center's Global Social Benefit Institute. [SOURCE: Santa Clara University]

African Clean Energy (ACE) is a Lesotho based company that produces an efficient biomass cookstove is currently participating in the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute. [SOURCE: Santa Clara University]

BY ISN STAFFMay 3, 2015

SANTA CLARA, CA –  Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jeff Miller, together with his philanthropic partner and wife, Karen, have given Santa Clara University $25 million to fuel its center dedicated to applying innovation and entrepreneurship approaches to address the needs of the global poor.

The transformative gift will enable the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship — the new name of the former Center for Science, Technology, and Society — to continue and expand upon its three main areas of focus: training and mentoring global social entrepreneurs; creating new ways to unlock funding for social entrepreneurs; and engaging faculty and student fellows who provide value-added research to social entrepreneurs worldwide.

“We are very grateful for the tremendous generosity of the Millers,” said Rev. Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “For years they have given their time and resources to help us mentor and serve some of the world’s brightest social entrepreneurs tackling humanity’s most intractable problems. Their guidance and support for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship are vital to Santa Clara’s commitment to serving the poor.”

The donation will allow the Center to increase its capacity to support more entrepreneurs, as well as expand SCU’s influence in social entrepreneurship and impact investing. This work will help lift millions of people out of poverty while creating opportunities for them to participate in the global marketplace.

The three departments within the Miller Center have the bold goal of positively impacting the lives of 1 billion people by the year 2020 by empowering social entrepreneurs globally:

  • With 12 years of experience in 60 countries, the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI ®) has provided stage-appropriate online and in-person capacity development programs to more than 340 social entrepreneurs at no cost to the entrepreneurs. One of the key differences between the GSBI and other accelerators is its 80 Silicon Valley executive-level mentors who provide weekly personalized guidance to program participants.
  • The Impact Capital team provides social entrepreneurs with financial coaching and educates investors about impact capital – investing for social and financial returns. In addition, Impact Capital connects impact investors and local banks to social entrepreneurs through innovative financial products that open new funding opportunities.
  • The Education and Action Research department provides a comprehensive undergraduate fellowship of field-based study for Santa Clara University students by placing them with GSBI social entrepreneurs around the world. The research provided by Fellows furthers the social mission of these enterprises.

“All people deserve to live a dignified life,” said Karen Miller, who has been an integral partner for years in the couple’s philanthropic efforts and is currently a board member on the Warriors Community Foundation. “A dignified life means clean water, education, basic health needs, and a livelihood that they can be proud of. This gift is our way of ensuring the Center endures and thrives in bringing life-stabilizing opportunity to as many people as possible.”

Founded in 1997, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The Centers embody the University’s mission to unite students and faculty with Silicon Valley leaders to address significant public issues. The Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute, Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research.

[Sources for this story included: Santa Clara University]

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