My GivingPoint Experience
Hello! I am Rahul Suryadevara, a senior at Walton High School (about to graduate!). I first came to hear of the GivingPoint Institute from friends who were first-year GPI alumni. To say the very least, I was blown away by the community that GPI fosters and by the social entrepreneurs it creates out of students holding passions over a very wide range of causes. Think games for hospitals, thrombosis awareness, prom for the underprivileged, and SO much more. My cause is ending homelessness through a chapter of a nonprofit—Working Together For Change—that I co-manage, beginning with youth education that I’d help fund through a 5K fundraiser run. There was so much I wanted to do to take my passion further, and GivingPoint was the figurative “say no more.”
Upon applying and demonstrating commitment to my cause, I was elated to be admitted into the GPI Class of 2017. The activities in the retreat that started it all were completely unanticipated. I did not expect one of the first things I’d do in a social entrepreneurship course to be competing to build a cube out of pool noodles, blindfolded. The seemingly bizarre activities we did that day were all very fun, but also, I realized, taught very important lessons about communication and working together. I had gotten my first taste at what sort of skillset a social entrepreneur possesses, and already started feeling integrated into the GPI family. I could not wait to begin the workshops.
Held once a month, the GivingPoint workshops each focused on crucial components of social entrepreneurship, such as budgeting, marketing, relationships, etc. All the workshops had guest speakers; each and every one had been tremendously effective in instilling an understanding of the component of social entrepreneurship being presented, as all the speakers were experts in their field. One of my most favorite workshops was “Overcoming Adversity.” Faced with a plethora of obstacles on the course I had charted out to organize the run, I greatly benefitted from the lessons taught in this workshop. It was super cool listening to actual entrepreneurs talk about their struggle to begin and sustain their companies and the steps they took to overcome serious obstacles they faced. We even presented our project pitches to them and received feedback! Aside from the content of the workshops, the locations of the workshops themselves were all fantastic in that we were in various business-like atmospheres, “dressed for success.” The set-up of the workshops was great because there was so much that we learned in two hours, and yet they were not too long to divert our attention. There were always snacks and food as the workshops were held after school, and even an atmosphere of motivation created by all the passionate minds sitting in the same room as me.
The GivingPoint team is extremely friendly and approachable and I found myself enjoying every workshop even more because of the positive atmosphere they created. James Aucoin (director of programs) took the time to come to each of our schools between workshops to discuss our projects, and the whole team even showed up at an event I held in downtown Atlanta, offering support and connecting us with CBS for TV coverage! While the GivingPoint team understands that you may have other commitments that interfere with attendance (hence the room for a few absences), they expect you to be on task and continuously progress with your project. The point work we receive at the end of each workshop gives us various tasks to do to help push forward our projects. If you demonstrate this work ethic throughout the year and stand out in the GPI class, you may be recipient to one of four monetary awards at the end-of-the-year Sparks event, ranging from $750-$3,000. I, along with my good friend and partner Faiz Syed, were very fortunate to receive the $2000 “New Kent Capital Award,” and will be using this as backbone money for our major prevention-side events as well as for supplies for our more common relief-focused events.
If you have a social cause that you’re passionate about or even want to make a difference and have yet to discover your domain of interest, I highly recommend you apply for GivingPoint Institute. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge on how to expand your operations and carry them out more effectively, you will also get ideas and inspiration from the new friends you make and have an amazing time while doing it! Remember, it’s only one evening each month, but you will gain knowledge and experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Rahul S's Blogs
Hello! I am Rahul Suryadevara, a senior at Walton High School (about to graduate!). I first came to hear of the GivingPoint Institute from friends who were first-year GPI alumni. To say the very least, I was blown away by the community that GPI fosters and by the social entrepreneurs it creates...Read More