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CSULB’s new program teaches aspiring student and local entrepreneurs social justice in business

Long Beach State’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will host a new program teaching students how to make a profit and contribute to your community, beginning on March 18.

The program, titled the Social Justice Entrepreneurship Program, is a four week entrepreneur workshop that was first created by Ebony Utley, a professor of Communications Studies at CSULB.

According to Utley, the program first came about when she spoke to assistant professor Steve Boyer in the Department of Design, regarding what Utley referred to as “the dark side of technology,” and how it’s negatively affecting many people during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were talking about how difficult it is for people to survive the pandemic with not having access to technologies and how money is still circulating, but it’s not always circulating to the people who need it most,” Utley said.

Utley stated how she was frustrated with the “vampire corporations” taking from people and taking advantage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Being a professional entrepreneur herself, whose work and expertise have been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network and several radio outlets, Utley wanted to create a program to help teach people how to make money for themselves, while also giving back to their communities during challenging times.

With the help of Boyer, who is a committee member for the workshops, as well as political science professor Alfredo Carlos, Utley believes her SJE program will do just that.

“The goal of the SJE Workshop is to inspire entrepreneurs to develop business models with a net positive impact on the community by measuring success based on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits,” Boyer said, sharing the framework that values both profits and sustainability.

The SJE workshop will be split into four weekly sessions, covering the topics the structure of business, economic democracy and the impacts of industrial production.

Promotional Banner for the Social Justice Entrepreneurship.
Promotional Banner for the Social Justice Entrepreneurship program. Photo courtesy of Monique Palmer and the CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The workshops will also give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to meet social justice entrepreneurs, according to Utley.

“In the third session, we’ll be bringing in real, local social justice entrepreneurs,” Utley said. “I can’t say who we’re bringing in yet, because everyone hasn’t confirmed. But, we will bring in representatives from co-ops as well as representatives that are bringing back to the community.”

While it’s not confirmed yet, Utley also mentioned that she has reached out to a woman-owned business to hopefully be a part of the SJE sessions.

Those who have pre-registered to attend, as well as attend all the SJE workshops, will also be given the opportunity to pitch their business models and ideas, according to Boyer.

“Attendees will be given the opportunity to develop ideas for socially responsible business models and learn how to develop a value proposition and a business model that consider the social costs and social benefits of their business,” Boyer said. “Participants will also be given the opportunity to network with local socially responsible business owners and to pitch their ideas for a chance to win cash prizes.”

While the deadline to pre-register for the workshops has passed, anyone who wishes to attend the workshops may still do so, Utley said.

“The content is always free and available,” Utley said. “The Zoom will be on our website, as well as on our social media page.”

For more information on the Social Justice Entrepreneurship program, including the dates to attend the workshops, students can visit the SJE’s webpage on CSULB’s website. Students who also wish to attend the workshops can sign up to join the Zoom Meeting here.

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