Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Where Profit Is the Good Done with the Dough

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Where Profit Is the Good Done with the Dough

Article excerpt

Holly, Dwayne, and Peggy come from very different worlds.

Holly Crafts is a senior at Stanford University. Peggy Day is an accomplished manager, with a long career in the commercial food business. And Dwayne is a recovering drug addict whose home address has often been the gritty streets of Richmond, Calif.

But their lives have intersected, offering one small example of the broader forces transforming America's approach to helping the needy. A few years ago, Dwayne would have most likely spent the holiday season shuffling along a food line at a shelter. This year, he's employed in a $1 million enterprise that is both commercially thriving and socially purposeful. Dwayne works at the nonprofit Rubicon Bakery, whose main goal is to pull ex-cons, recovering addicts, and homeless off Richmond's streets and give them a new start. Rubicon is succeeding, but not just because of good intentions. It's succeeding because of contributions from Ms. Crafts, an intern last summer, and Ms. Day, who came mid-career. They helped give Rubicon a professional-caliber quality-control system. The social trends that Day and Crafts represent are bringing innovation and sophistication to the rapidly expanding nonprofit sector. One of the trends is the growing attractiveness of the social- service field to experienced managers like Day. They come partly because the increasingly competitive nonprofit world is more eager for their skills. Also, many come in search of more personally satisfying work. "It's a totally different way of working. It's really rewarding," says Day. The other trend at work is the growing popularity of what is commonly called "social enterprise" on college campuses, particularly within some elite business schools. While some students enter the field directly, more often seeds of interest blossom after graduates pay dues in larger, more conventional for-profit businesses. "Social enterprise has caught the imagination of a generation of students in business schools," says Donald Haider, a professor at Northwestern University's graduate business school in Evanston, Ill. "They want to do good, and do well, at the same time," he says. Responding to the demand, Northwestern will offer its first graduate class in social enterprise next spring. At the same time, Stanford University will add an undergraduate class in the field after offering one to graduate students since 1997. While students are driving some of the new classes, professors are also pushing the concept, says Greg Dees, the professor who will teach the undergraduate course at Stanford in California. "There's a whole generation that is disillusioned with the types of programs we thought would solve the world's problems," he says. One of the early champions of this budding field is Students for Responsible Business (SRB), a San Francisco-based organization whose mission is to develop socially conscious leaders. …

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