Cambridge, MA—Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today two new initiatives in its growing program on social enterprise and social innovation: the creation of the New World Social Enterprise Fellows Program, a next-generation social innovation incubator, and the Alan L. Gleitsman Professorship of Social Innovation.
Underscoring the school’s commitment to supporting creative student entrepreneurs through mentorship and financial support, the next-generation incubator program and professorship will offer opportunities and resources for both HKS and Harvard College students.
The Alan L. Gleitsman Professorship of Social Innovation is supported by gifts from the estate of Alan L. Gleitsman and New World Development Company Limited, a Hong Kong-listed conglomerate led by Adrian Cheng, a 2002 graduate of Harvard College. The Gleitsman Professor will oversee the newly-launched New World Social Enterprise Fellows Program, also supported by New World Development Company and the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change, founded in 2007 to amplify the accomplishments of social activists.
Additionally, the Gleitsman Professor will collaborate with scholars and major social change agents at the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership (CPL) to create programming that deepens CPL’s mission of preparing students for service and leadership in social innovation. S/he will also contribute to the School’s Executive Education program, which this spring hosted early-stage female entrepreneurs from the Middle East and partnered with the Schwab Foundation to bring late-stage entrepreneurs from around the globe to HKS.
“The New World Social Enterprise Fellows Program and the Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation will create many exciting opportunities for the school to support the innovative work of HKS and Harvard College students,” said HKS Acting Dean Archon Fung. “I am grateful to the vision and foresight of Alan Gleitsman and Adrian Cheng, both of whom make it possible for the Kennedy School to deepen its engagement with young social entrepreneurs who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world.”
“These two initiatives -- the new professorship in social innovation and the incubator program -- are key steps toward building an ever more robust platform at the Kennedy School," said David Gergen, Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership. “Our Center is proud to host the Hauser Institute for Civil Society, which has long been a significant leader in studying and advancing social change. These initiatives and others in the works underscore the commitment of the School to help address major social challenges through social enterprise and innovation.”
The first class of Adrian Cheng Fellows in the New World Social Enterprise Fellows Program has convened for the 2015-16 academic year, having been chosen from among enrolled students at HKS and Harvard College. Cohorts of approximately 20 students are expected to participate in the rigorous program, which will include co-curricular activities and link with HKS curricular offerings and faculty.
Additionally, the Cheng Fellows will receive mentorship and access to a wide network of leading social innovators, faculty members and HKS alumni who are experts in the field. The program will offer financial support to help students develop their ideas for social enterprises, and opportunities for graduate stipends to serve as critical seed funding for exceptionally promising social ventures.
“Our incubator will be unique in the sense that it is not entirely a prize-based or start-up biased accelerator,” says Gergen. “Instead, we’re committed to providing our students with the intellectual resources and experiential opportunities they need to first understand the nature of the problems they are trying to solve and then to design solutions that address them. It builds on HKS' unique perch as a school of public policy.”
Alan Gleitsman was a television executive who founded the Gleitsman Foundation in 1989 following the sale of his extensive feature film and television library. A graduate of Cornell University and a U.S. Air Force veteran, Gleitsman’s longtime commitment to social justice was aligned with his philosophy that even a single person with heart and determination can bring about meaningful solutions to challenging societal problems. Gleitsman was fond of quoting Robert F. Kennedy: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” In 2007, Gleitsman’s Estate endowed the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change at Harvard Kennedy School, and supports both the awarding of the Gleitsman Citizen and International Activist Awards, and the Gleitsman Leadership Fellowship for Social Change.
Adrian Cheng is the Executive Vice-chairman and Joint General Manager of New World Development Company Limited. He is the chairman of New World Group Charity Foundation Limited and a director of certain subsidiaries of the Group. Cheng worked in a major international bank prior to joining New World Development Company Limited in September 2006 and has substantial experience in corporate finance. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (cum laude) from Harvard University with a focus on East Asia studies, and was conferred the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities by the Savannah College of Art and Design. Cheng founded New World Springboard Community Program which encourages young people to give back to society and also founded K11 Art Mall and K11 Arts Foundation which nurtures young artists, offers international scholarships, and hosts exhibitions around the world. He is the vice-chairman of the Youth Federation of the Central State-owned Enterprises, the vice-chairman of All-China Youth Federation, a member of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and a member of Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.