As so many great ideas start, this project began in June as a conversation over a beer at the T-room. We were looking for ways to get the student body more involved in the greater challenges of the Portland community. Jack was finishing up his internship mapping innovation opportunities for the Development Office at UP. Ironically, our two lenses flipped as the summer continued. Brandon started working for an innovation group at Nike, and Jack became compelled by the extent of homelessness he helplessly passed by on his way to work downtown. We were both hooked on the idea; we need to bring the two worlds together.
Months of meetings, research, and pleas for ideas brought us to our secret weapon--you. Yes, you. We are calling students from all educational, economic, and social backgrounds to share a journey to understand the realities of homelessness, and do something about it! We are called to cultivate our head, hearts, and hands during our time at the University of Portland, and this is an opportunity to grow in all three areas.
We are taking multiple student groups of three to seven on a three-part journey. First, students will immerse themselves in a service-learning opportunity into the lives of humans behind the mask of homelessness. Students will be accompanied by a faculty adviser to guide open-minded discussion and active reflection on the experience. Second, students will partner with a local social innovator or entrepreneur, learn the principles of human-centered design and innovation sprinting, and ideate their own support structure to alleviate challenges faced by humans experiencing homelessness. 3) Students will present their finished project to an expert panel, corporate sponsors, and non-profit organizations. All groups will get a platform to share their experience, network with the audience, and compete for the 100K competition social enterprise track.
No person can alleviate the pain and difficulties associated with humans experiencing homelessness. This is reality, but we each have an opportunity to open our minds to understanding the stories of real human beings, and learn proven ways to turn our support strategies into action. Join us as we transform the University of Portland to the University FOR Portland. Apply now! If you have any questions, feel free to email Brandon Rivera ( and Jack Padon (.