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Custom designed and co-created courses and learning programs.

Academics and Educators

Custom Experiential Learning


Courses can be developed for students in any number of disciplines: business administration, law, management, anthropology, public health, engineering, education, medicine and nursing, public affairs, women's studies, and so on. Our experienced and creative staff can create Grassroots U courses for high school through graduate school and continuing education.  We have even developed programs for university faculty who want to learn about social entrepreneurship so they can teach it at their home institutions.  


Courses can be co-created in partnership with academic institutions, or designed by the Grassroots U team according to the learning objectives and specifications of the sponsoring academic institution.  The Grassroots U team can adapt an existing course on social entrepreneurship, social innovation, social enterprise, impact investing, etc. or create a wholly new course aligned with the university's requirements and students' wants.

Grassroots U instructors either work as adjuncts to deliver the course or co-instruct with professors from the host institution.

Learn more about how we can help you design your own Grassroots U course or leave us a message below so we can provide you with more information.

See our course list if you would like to explore possibilities for your program.  

"Inspirational and life-changing trips where students and community members can learn from and lend experience to social entrepreneurs.” 

—Dr. Carolyn McKnight, Professor of Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship 

Course List

Design from Scratch or Tailor Our Courses

Need ideas? Choose any of our course designs and make it yours by customizing the content to the wants and needs of your audience. You can even amalgamate courses, co-mingle technical areas and combine multiple sectors. Our highly skilled and creative staff will help you create the right course for your institution. 

The Edible Social Entrepreneur: Food Security and Social Justice

This program investigates social entrepreneurship in our food system.  Participants examine the numerous innovative ways that social entrepreneurs use food as a means for solving social, environmental and economic injustices.  In doing so, they follow the food value chain from growing to recycling and learn from entrepreneurs who are addressing hunger and food insecurity, community disenfranchisement, and unemployment. 

Employment Social Enterprise: Jobs for the Unemployable

Explores social enterprise as a strategy to create jobs and economic opportunities for people who face extreme barriers to employment and economic survival.  Course participants take an in-depth look at barriers to employment—such as homelessness, school dropout, disabilities, mental illness, criminal histories, etc.—that often serve to perpetuate joblessness and the cycle of poverty. Then they learn the many ways that social enterprises can be vehicles to transition people from joblessness to  productive, contributing and wage-earning members of society. 

Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development

Designing for long term sustainability is at once an age old challenge and an overarching goal of international development. Social entrepreneurship introduces new approaches to sustain development initiatives.  In this course students study a range of sustainable development models from the self-help groups to NGOs and whole communities. Students learn and practice design that uses community contributions, renewable resources, earned income and democratic principles to solve social problems and create systemic change. 

Impact Investing and Social Finance

Explores the nature and range of investment instruments and markets for capital markets for social enterprises and socially motivated businesses. As well, this course looks at policies and legal issues that either enable or inhibit social investment. Participants follow investments to understand how social capital is employed from seed to scale in social enterprises and how returns are quantified. They also learn  how social audits and valuation is conducted in due diligence prior to investment. 

Inventions for Impact

This program focuses at engineering and technology solutions at the base of the pyramid. Through a creative and experiential process, participants explore the many different ways that appropriate and high technology is being used to combat poverty and other social problems in the developing world.  They identify problems that can be solved with engineering or technology, conduct a rapid prototyping exercise, and apply design techniques to craft a new process, technology or invention that benefit society. Throughout, they work with counterparts using locally available technology and resources to invent for impact. 

Eco-Social Entrepeneur: Social Enterprise, Society and the Environment

Global warming, deforestation, pollution, threatened wild life, diminishing water sources are just some of the environmental issues that keep eco-social entrepreneurs busy.  In this program participants explore the many ways in which social entrepreneurs are working to protect the environment. Businesses and social innovations in eco- and community-based tourism, recycling initiatives, water-conserving irrigation, tree planting and renewable energy are some of the examples this course explores.

Social Enterprise Design is about finding business solutions to poverty and other social problems. This course teaches the complex and messy art of identifying business opportunities in social problems and then designing solutions using business vehicles and entrepreneurship. Social Enterprise Design teaches pragmatic and human centered approaches to design for sustainable impact while imparting concrete development experience and building practical skills. Participants conduct consulting projects with social entrepreneurs on practical issues they face such as social enterprise scale and sustainability.

This introductory course gives students a comprehensive overview of social innovation, social enterprise, corporate social responsibility program, and the use of entrepreneurship and market-based approaches to address social problems at the base of the pyramid.  The field is the classroom where students take a deep dive into poverty, examining its causes, effects and social, environmental and financial costs. They then survey a range of social innovations and entrepreneurship models that help break the cycle of poverty.

Youth Discovery

For exceptional high school students and undergraduate college students, Youth Discovery is as much about self discovery and leadership as it is about exploring social entrepreneurship and development.   Deeply inspiring and profoundly personal, young people learn about problems that children and youth in developing countries face as well as how courageous young leaders are finding entrepreneurial solutions to these problems.

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GrassrootsU Course Benefits

Practical Skills - build hard skills and life skills for career development and personal growth. 

Work Experience – gain actual field work experience in social entrepreneurship and development.

Expert Facilitators Rooted in Practice – learn from professionals and well-known thought leaders with decades of on-the-ground experience working in social enterprises.

Essential Frameworks – use best practice social entrepreneurship frameworks such as Human Centered Design and Business Plan Canvas through a hands-on applied processes.

Real-life circumstances - gain an honest and holistic appraisal of the immense challenges, and tremendous benefits, of solving social problems.

Networks – interact with  leading social entrepreneurs, service providers,  social investors, peers, and academics. Re-connect with alumni after the program.

Multiculturalism - work, earn and play with local peers and professionals. Experience cross-cultural dynamics when exploring solutions to social problems. 

Small groups – Grassroots U limits the size of its programs to enable team work, relationship building and peer-learning and sharing to transpires in small groups. 

Knowledge products – apply expert social enterprise strategic and management resources pioneered and used by Virtue Ventures.

Personal Growth – practice leadership through projects and exercises, reflect on experience, develop a vision for the future, and a corresponding personal plan.

Create impact – contribute to the work of a social enterprise or NGO through needs-based projects and consulting assignments.

Career Readiness – increase qualifications and improve for finding a job or creating a social enterprise. 

Application - conduct exercises that connect how to integrate Grassroots U experience to life at home and plan next steps.  

Continued support - get follow up help to implement concepts and plans through Grassroots U partners and parent organization, Virtue Ventures.

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