By Chelsea Anderson
A new student organization on campus that provides opportunities for students to engage in social entrepreneurship and sustainability projects is already making an impact in Charleston and will soon extend its efforts to Ecuador.
Nourish International, which is established on more than 60 college campuses around the country, enables students to work with global communities on development projects aimed at eliminating extreme poverty. The nonprofit demonstrates its commitment to human rights and access to basic needs and values by partnering with communities.
Throughout the school year, chapter members raise money through on-campus ventures to support an international development project they select and plan with a community-based organization abroad.
At the College of Charleston, chapter leaders Courtney Eker and Ben Brennan, along with members Caroline Johnston and Ellen Claire Newell, have their eyes set on a project in Quito, Ecuador. The chapter is partnering with Triple Salto, a nonprofit organization that empowers communities through agricultural solutions. The chapter’s members hope to travel to Quito this summer to build orchards, greenhouses, and wormeries for local residents.
“That is what makes Nourish so special,” says Eker. “The fact that we aren’t gathering money to write a check and send it off – we are raising money that we will use to implement a sustainable development project ourselves.”
Before launching the College’s Nourish chapter, Eker and her co-founders completed a rigorous application process and series of interviews. The College was just one of 10 universities selected to establish a chapter out of some 200 schools that applied.
Despite its infancy, the new chapter is already taking an active role in philanthropic ventures around campus, including work on projects such as Coolers for a Cause, Nourish Necklaces, Weekend Pancake Deliveries, and Fair Trade Coffee.
But their proudest venture thus far is called RIPE (Repurposing Imperfect Produce Effectively). By making use of unwanted produce from the Charleston Farmers Market, Nourish members create nutritious juices and offer them for sale to the campus community in Cougar Mall.
“It helps local farmers financially because they normally wouldn’t be able to sell this produce,” says Eker. “It also promotes student and community wellbeing by providing a healthy option for a snack in between classes, and is environmentally friendly. We donate the excess pulp from the juices to the compost at the Office of Sustainability!”
Nourish’s national office took notice of the group’s efforts and awarded the CofC chapter with first place honors and $500 in a Venture Fund Competition.
No matter your background, major or interests, Eker says there is a place in Nourish for any student interested in sharing a common goal and helping others.
“It’s really powerful that there are so many students who want to put in so much hard work and effort into an organization in order to help a group of people who they don’t even know yet,” she says. “There’s some sort of connectedness to it all. It’s definitely something special.”
This article was written by Chelsea Anderson, a junior from Conway, S.C., majoring in communication at the College of Charleston. She is a writer and blog editor for the College’s Cistern Yard Media.