Two recent alumni are fueling a new program from the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility to “scale up” their undergraduate actions for social change.
Serving as the inaugural Lang Social Impact Fellows are Raven Bennett ’17 and Nimesh Ghimire ’15, who are empowered to continue their impactful solutions to social problems this year with funding and support from the Lang Center, says associate director Jennifer Magee.
“It is through the vision and generosity of Eugene M. Lang ’38 that communities facing significant challenges have come to know Swarthmore students, including Raven and Nimesh, as social change makers,” says Magee. “We are grateful for the opportunity to innovate and build upon the success of the Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program with this pilot program, and motivated and inspired to work with Raven and Nimesh as they sustain and scale their initiatives.”
Bennett expands her Lang Project, the Fraternity Mentorship program, a sexual-violence prevention program that harnesses male-peer influence in fraternities to create positive culture change on college campuses. She got the idea from past Phi Psi president Conor Clark ’16 at a Title IX Student Liaison Team meeting and collected promising data on the effectiveness of the program for her Honors psychology thesis.
The Lang Social Impact Fellowship “seemed like the perfect opportunity” to expand the program to other colleges and universities, says Bennett. Thus far she has developed a detailed, 60-page manual with curricula for each of the program’s six training elements and networked with various schools and institutions with a strong interest in initiating the program next year.
“Ultimately, I hope this program will contribute to the prevention of sexual violence on college campuses across the nation,” says Bennett, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Swarthmore and currently serves an interim fellow for the office of the Title IX Coordinator.
For his fellowship year, Ghimire is focused on strengthening the Rural Innovation Lab in rural Nepal that he co-designed and implemented while at Swarthmore. The lab is a collaborative space for community members to design solutions to pressing local challenges. A renewal manager for Ashoka’s Changemaker Campus Program promoting social innovation, Ghimire looks to build upon the Rural Innovation Lab’s core program and identify revenue streams for sustainable grassroots innovation.
Working with more than 40 colleges and universities has given him “a unique insight into system-level challenges for embedding social innovation as a core component of student experience,” says Ghimire, who received Project Pericles Fund and Davis Projects for Peace grants while at Swarthmore. “I hope to glean from many of these insights as I help current students move forward with their own projects and ideas.”
Throughout their fellowship, Bennett and Ghimire will also mentor current Lang Scholars and other Swarthmore student innovators. To that end, they will collect narratives from Lang Scholar alumni about the difficult moments and/or failures they encountered and how they coped with them.
“Much of my involvement in social innovation learning and practice has been possible because of the mentorship and support of Swarthmore and the Lang Center while I was an undergraduate,” Ghimire says. “Part of what appealed to me with this fellowship was the chance to pay that forward.”
Learn about Swarthmore’s impact on the local and global community at lifechanging.swarthmore.edu.