Georgetown University has announced a $10 million gift from Alberto Beeck and his wife, Georgetown alumna Olga María ('81), to help launch a center dedicated to solving some of the world's most urgent problems.
To be led by Sonal Shah, former director of the White House's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation will work to foster collaboration among students, faculty, and the private sector and generate innovative solutions to pressing social problems. Among other things, the center will provide students in the fields of public policy, foreign service, law, business, and other disciplines with training and a state-of-the-art laboratory where they can test their ideas and methods. Students also will learn how to raise funds to create social impact and will be provided with opportunities to meet global leaders who can help them incubate their ideas.
"Social impact and innovation ideas merge with what's happening in the nonprofit, for-profit, and government sectors to solve social problems on a mass scale," said Shah, now a professor at Georgetown and a senior fellow at the Case Foundation and the Center for American Progress. In January, the Case Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Georgetown's McDonough School of Business to explore opportunities for growing the field of social impact investing.
Alberto Beeck, director of Virgin Hotels and a former president of a Peruvian cement company, told the Associated Press that his family — which includes two Georgetown students — is a passionate supporter of education and the social sector who also believes in solutions-based policies to address social problems. "I guess it's in our DNA that we need to do something for society," he said. "That plus the fast and the exciting changes that are taking place in the social sector....The exponential growth in technology has empowered and connected individuals in ways that we have never seen before."
"I really think that this is going to become an important beacon in Washington, shining a light on the importance of social innovation and putting a focus on the entrepreneurial spirit and approaches in the social sector," said Case Foundation co-founder and CEO Jean Case, who is executive-in-residence at McDonough's Global Social Enterprise Initiative. "[The Beeck Center] will have great value not just to students, but to faculty and global leaders from all sectors."