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Changemaking in Action

CMC Students on ASB in Tijuana, Mexico

Jeremy Anderson ’19

“We often throw around these big words-changemaker, design thinking, social entrepreneur. At the end of the day, for me, it all comes down to this: using bright ideas and business to make the world a better place and improve the lives of those who live in it.” As CMC student Connor Bloom ’19 expresses, changemakers create positive change in their communities through creating and promoting innovative ideas. Changemaking is complex and challenging, but CMC and KLI are embracing this challenge through various initiatives that deepen students’ understanding of themselves while transforming their environment. CMC and KLI’s changemaking initiatives reinforce CMC’s mission to educate its students for “thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership.”

Ashoka U Exchange

In the fall of 2014, CMC was designated as the 30th Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for being a leader in social innovation in higher education. Every year, Ashoka U brings together a community of students, faculty, and staff who share both interest and experience regarding social change and impact for the Exchange. The Ashoka U Exchange is a three day conference where participants explore social innovation through workshops, panels, and site visits. This year’s conference was hosted by Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana from February 25-27, 2016.

Participants left the conference inspired. Conference attendee Connor Bloom ’19 expressed that social innovators and entrepreneurs tend to feel very alone. “Sometimes it feels like it is us against the world, and only a small subset of people are trying to create sustainable ethical social businesses versus the rest of the world. Social ventures often are not that profitable and it’s complicated to make them successful. It was very motivating to meet other students who are passionate about making the world a better place,” he said. Sam Becker ’19 also thought the conference was a great experience, and especially enjoyed the site visits. Site visits, which were spread throughout the conference agenda, gave participants an opportunity to explore the New Orleans community to see local social innovation in action. One of the site visits that Becker participated in was to an architecture firm that brings in Tulane students to design for low income neighborhoods. One of their projects was a housing and rehabilitation complex for women affected by domestic violence.

Amy Bibbens, Director of CMC’s Center for Civic Engagement and Neela Rajendra, Director of KLI’s Entrepreneurial Initiatives were both panelists at the conference. Both women were instrumental in leading the effort to get CMC designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U. Bibbens participated on a panel on funding options for changemaking. In this session, panelists went into the nitty-gritty details of donor engagement, partnership development, fund management and allocation to student and campus projects. Rajendra served as a panelist on a session which discussed how social innovation can advance equity and justice in higher education, and how institutions can support students leading the struggle for more equitable campuses.

Conference participants returned to CMC with not only a larger network to tap into, but also with a few goals in mind for CMC. Most of the sessions that Connor Bloom ’19 attended at the conference revolved around designing course curricula and campus-wide events. “These are things that can bring social entrepreneurs out of the woodwork. It can expose students who may have done consulting and show them that their talents can be used for change too,” he said. Amy Bibbens agreed with Bloom, and emphasized that there should be more faculty engagement and changemaking in the curriculum so that changemaking is not just seen as a co-curricular activity. With changemaking in the curriculum and programming, CMC can improve its community and the experiences of the people in it. For more information about the exchange visit here.

Alternative Spring Break

While some students were relaxing on the beach, groups of CMC students spent their spring break volunteering through the CMC’s Center for Civic Engagement’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Some of the goals of this program are to develop leadership skills and personal growth, provide a cultural exchange opportunity, and foster strong bonds among participants while also making change. This year the Center for Civic Engagement sponsored three trips: Solar Spring Break in the San Luis Obispo, California area, a Habitat for Humanity build in Colorado, and an Immigration and Refugee Studies trip to San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico.

The trips were powerful experiences for participants. The Immigration and Refugee Studies trip to San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico was life-changing for Jennifer Perez ’19. “I went on this trip and experienced things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The trip was full with lessons that you could only receive outside of the classroom” she said. Connor Bloom ’19 had a similar reaction to building in Colorado with Habitat for Humanity. “Sometimes students don’t get outside the college bubble, and often with volunteering you think of the people you’re helping as the “others”. On the first day of our trip we sat down with the families whose homes we were building and learned their story, what they were doing, and what their background was. This really opened our eyes and made the project more meaningful,” he expressed.
Amy Bibbens, who in addition to organizing the trips participated in a portion of the Immigration and Refugee Studies trip, wants the program to continue and grow within the frame of changemaking. She is also working to determine what other programs that currently exist that can be adapted to fit a changemaking frame. For more information about the trips visit here.

CMC Students on ASB in Tijuana, Mexico

CMC Students on ASB in Tijuana, Mexico


Green Careers Conference

On February 5, 2016 the CMC’s Roberts Environmental Center and impACT (Inspiration, Mission, Passion, ACTION) hosted the second annual Green Careers Conference at CMC. This one-day conference invites members of the 5C community to gather for a day of discussion, networking and presentations on the opportunities for today’s graduates to join the growing field of sustainable and environmental careers. Green industry leaders led panel presentations and Michael Graber ’74, eight-time Emmy-Winning cinematographer, gave a keynote presentation at the conference. Connor Bloom ’19 thought the conference was a great eye-opener to careers that exist in the industry, and thought that the keynote speech was phenomenal. Sam Becker, who is interested in being an environmental attorney, enjoyed the “Environmental Law and Government” panel discussion. For more information on the conference visit here.


Michael Graber ’74 speaking at the Athenaeum


Climate Leadership Summit

CMC hosted the National Campus Leadership Council’s 2016 Climate Leadership Summit on April 23. The proposal, written by CMC students Sam Becker, Will Su and Jessica Bass, was selected and sponsored by Defend Our Future, the National Campus Leadership Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund. The summit featured 36 speakers, with three keynote speeches and fifteen unique panels, as well as a sustainably catered dinner and live music. Among the speakers were John Chiang, California State Treasurer, Chris Mann, CEO of Guayaki Yerba Mate, and Nancy Sutley, former chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. KLI assisted with reaching out to other colleges and proposing the summit to administration and faculty members. Becker hopes participants left the summit with knowledge about how California politicians, nonprofit organizations, and businesses are doing to lead the U.S. and the rest of the world in sustainable efforts. For more information on the summit visit here.

President’s Changemaker Fund

Originally the referred to as the President’s Fund under CMC President Emerita Pamela Gann, the President’s Changemaker Fund was re-framed under a changemaking lens. The purpose of this fund is to support initiatives that make a positive difference in the community, while also enabling students to experience the complex challenge of changemaking first-hand. Additionally, the fund seeks to strengthen CMC’s relationship with local and global communities, and empower students to practice social entrepreneurship, community engagement, responsible citizenship, and social and intellectual forms of leadership.  For more information on the summit visit here.

Organizations or individuals that are receiving funding from the Spring 2016 round of applications include:

  • In-Lend Fund
  • Caroline Sunshine ’18 – voter rights for the homeless
  • A Global Health Alliance – CMC/Water and Health for All Partnership
  • Sara-Rose Bockian ’17 – A customized volunteer experience in LA county
  • Free Food (for Thought)
  • Courtney Chan ’17 – Peer Counseling Program

Changemaker Awards

On April 27, 2016 CMC hosted the inaugural Changemaker Awards reception to recognize students and organizations at CMC dedicated to changemaking and social impact. “It highlights them. It gives them a voice,” said Amy Bibbens. This initiative was student-run and was hosted by the Changemaker Network a community-building body of changemaking-related student organizations.  The leaders for this inaugural network are Caroline Hays ’16 and Marissa Birbach ‘16. Hays and Mirbach conducted interviews with the individual students and representatives from organizations and selected finalists.
Individual Award finalists: Grace Bailey ’18, Sam Becker ’19, Byron Cohen ’16, Katherine Eger ’16, Casey Garcelon ’17, Aaron McKinney ’18, Nicole Southard ’17, and Rebecca Zimmerman ’18. Organization Award finalists: Center for Writing and Public Discourse, Claremont Colleges Against Cancer, Claremont Knowledge, Claremont Radius, CMCers of Color, Eunoia EduQuest, In-Lend Fund, Music Mentors of Pomona Valley, The After School Specials, and Wusta.

The winners include:

Individual, on campus work: Casey Garcelon ’17, President of GenU, and Aaron McKinney ’18, President of Brothers and Sisters Alliance

Individual, off-campus work: Byron Cohen ’16, Founder, Water and Health for All

Group, on campus work: CMCers of Color

Group, off campus work: Center for Writing and Public Discourse

  • Casey Carcelon has demonstrated impressive dedication, hard work, and compassion during her time at CMC. As president of GenU, a group for first generation college students, and an active member of CMCers of Color, Casey has worked tirelessly to advocate for students of marginalized identities at CMC.  She is developing important programming and building a web of resources for GenU both at CMC and through connections with other campuses in the US.
  • Aaron McKinney has spent his time at CMC making sure that everyone on campus, regardless of identity, feels a sense of warmth and community. As president of Brothers and Sisters Alliance, he works with CMCers of Color and GenU, making sure that the voices of marginalized students are heard clearly.  He is proud of the creation of the new Resource Center, and is actively working to make sure the momentum doesn’t stop there.
  • Byron Cohen has already made a real global impact. He started an organization in Gulu, Uganda, called Water and Health for All that works to build wells and maintain clear water access in the region through self-sustaining interventions and the establishment of local water councils.  Byron has also worked to ensure the sustainability of this organization while he pursues studies in international public health policy as a Mitchell Scholar next year.
  • CMCers of Color creates community and provides support for Students of Color at CMC through conversations with members of the Claremont community, as well as a variety of activities to bring the group together. The club has had a huge impact on campus in their first year, and is working hard to make sure that they maintain their momentum in the coming years.
  • The Center for Writing and Public Discourse is much more than just a place to get your papers edited, although it’s a great place for that, too. The Center is a hub for all means of discourse, and it facilitates student growth through workshops, visiting speakers and exciting programming.  Through their Pomona High School Outreach Program (POP), CWPD writing consultants bring CMC’s writing culture into the broader community.

Group photo of winners at the Changemaker Awards Reception


The capacity to lead oneself and others cultivates a mindset of changemaking. Once equipped with the tools of changemaking, this mindset is put to action to change society for the better. Changemaking is ingrained in the missions of CMC and KLI. Sam Becker ’19 eloquently described changemaking as “striving to positively impact people through action, information, and knowledge to the point where they inspire others to use the same action, information, and knowledge to positively impact others in their community.” Through sustaining these initiatives and creating new ones, CMC and KLI will continue to improve CMC and larger society and inspire others to do the same.