ESI Program


Cybelle’s Follow Up Post

Summer is soon upon us, and I am truly excited to be able to visit all of the ESI participants in Japan! ESI was a really interesting life experience for me, and it helped me get at least partway there towards answering the question: “what should I do with my life? How can I make a lasting positive impact on society?” I will be going to China this summer to learn Mandarin, but also I am interested in the plight of the migrant workers in Beijing and their families. I took a class this quarter about educational barriers faced by migrant children, and I hope that while I am in Beijing this summer I will be able to volunteer in a migrant community and get a better sense of the situation first-hand. Still, I am never sure how much impact I would be able to have on the situation, particularly if I am not interested in living and working in China for more than a few years. I am still searching and trying to find the best fit for me, in which I can use my skill set to make a lasting, valuable impact. Recently I have been thinking a lot about how I could use linguistics to improve people’s lives. I would like to work on improving automatic speech recognition systems for the deaf, and also on trying to develop higher quality automatic translation devices. I think that technologies like this really would have the power to transform the way we interact with people from different language backgrounds. Still, sometimes I wonder whether focusing on technologies that only the rich can afford would really be the best way to help. ESI gave me a few ideas about how I might tie in corporate profits from groundbreaking technologies in order to help people that cannot afford them. For example, if I sold speech recognition devices to middle class people who were hard of hearing, I might use the profits to help out deaf kids in the developing world. I am still playing around with a lot of ideas about how I might harness my passions to fuel something larger than myself. I hope that all of you are still seeking out your passions, as well! I can’t wait to see everyone in 3 weeks, and to hear what you all have been up to and thinking about!


Francisco’s Follow Up Post

Hi All!

I posted this on my facebook but I’ll post it here again if you all don’t mind. It is the poem that my team and I made for the Transformative Action workshop we did.


Blue buta (pig) flowers you love my shoes

they smell like chair, and that neoy (smells)

great, thank goodness for your funky love

Your shirt should fly open your mind like

water flowing up towards rainclouds above

the mountains below the valley of doom

Of happiness inside the jar, there seems

to live nothing without love

Better to smile when butterflies flutter than

to frown upon the himalayan skyline of my heart


I have no idea what any of that means, but it is fun to read.


Rebekah’s Follow Up Post

Hello ESI students!

Following months of preparation and an extremely exciting program with all of you, it is so strange for the program to now have ended.  I think that the true measure of a strong program is its ability to having lasting impact on you even after it has finished.  ESI remains for me an incredibly educational, personally enriching, and positive growing experience that has sent lasting ripples into my life. 

Following this program, I was inspired to enroll in my first course on this subject area, Public Policy 183: Philanthropy and Social Innovation.  Taught by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, a four-time graduate of Stanford University and prominent figure in Silicon Valley’s philanthropic sector, this dynamic class is a perfect theoretical complement to the practical, hands-on exposure we gained to social innovation during ESI. 

This coming week, we are delving into the models of corporate philanthropy being developed today.  Corporate philanthropy in the United States has developed from near non-existence in the 1950s, largely due to federal restrictions on philanthropic giving by firms, to nearly ubiquitous in the present day.  This massive increase in corporate giving has been accompanied by a shift in patterns of giving.  Whereas corporations previously donated randomly and out of the CEO’s personal interests, today’s corporate giving is highly strategic and limited to select causes related in some way to the for-profit business of the firm (i.e. Crayola gives to arts education initiatives).  Firms see corporate giving through their individually-developed foundations as a way to create crucial alliances with others stakeholders, market themselves, and create in-house morale among employees. 

In my studies of corporate philanthropy, I became very excited to read that Japan is considered an emerging leader in corporate philanthropy.  According to Craig Smith’s “The New Corporate Philanthropy,”* 200 Japanese firms currently conduct corporate philanthropy within the United States with their sights set on expanding these programs to their other international constituencies.  In addition, Japan is at the forefront of “debt-for-development” initiatives that rely on foreign banks, such as the Industrial Bank of Japan and Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, to help discount debt within developing countries while employing economic development initiatives by NGOs. 

I am really excited to come to Japan in order to learn more about Japanese perspectives on and involvement in social innovation. I have so much to learn about social innovation and am very grateful for the international perspective that VIA provides us through this exchange program!  Take care and see you soon!




*For article, if you have a copy of the Stanford Public Policy 183 Reader, see “The New Corporate Philanthropy” by Craig Smith.


Takashi’s Gumball Post

Hey, everyone!

This is Takashi.

I will introduce a business practice” the gumball challenge” and let’s jump into this chance and participate in together if you have time and interested in this chance! This chance is hosted by gumballcapital and gumballcapital is a company enterprised by Travis. He is a passionate and tough student of Stanford University. I made aquaintance with him at Stanford in ESI and respect him and he is my good rival.

The Gumball Challenge is a microfinance-benefit competition. I will introduce how to challenge works below. If you are interested in running gumball challenge with me, please contact me.

Let’s build our team!

 …..The name of team is…… maybe “Spider” ,haha!

Let’s keep in touch~!

How the Challenge Works

Held at high school and university campuses nationwide, student teams receive a $27 loan from Gumball Capital and have a week to generate maximum revenue. At the week’s end, money raised is collected and then loaned out by the Gumball Fund to promising entrepreneurs in third world countries. By participating in this entrepreneurial competition, students experience how their energy and creativity can lift like-minded people out of the chains of poverty.


your friend




Sustaining Ourselves: Next Steps for the Future

Through learning about organizations and debriefing with everyone in the ESI program, what inspired me the most was the sustainability of socially innovative organizations’ models.  At Year Up, sustainability lies within its partnerships with corporations. And at La Cocina, renting kitchen space to clients is a mechanism for their empowerment as well as a fiscal source for the organization.  Sustainability is vital to these organizations’ ability to function; and I realize that is it not only important in largely impacting the community it serves, but also for these organizations’ staff to enjoy their jobs and continue to grow.

After the Transformative Action Institute, my definition of “social innovation” evolved to include personal talent and creativity as a vital aspect of the innovative process.  Before, I understood that creativity was very important in developing new models, however, I did not understand how people could develop creativity.  I think it’s inspiring that we all have a potential to grow in this way.  Social innovation leaves room for personal expression and personal growth, which I think should be an important criteria for any job—whether this involves their talents, passions, or creativity.  I learned that saying “yes” to every new idea, sustains our creativity, hopes and dreams to make a difference, and that is a valuable lesson that I now embrace.

Also reflecting on our friendship during the program, I realize the importance of building connections for both personal livelihood and for strengthening a movement towards social change.  Perhaps we all came to the program with different goals and visions, but we bonded over the inspiration that we felt during site visits and activities.  Taking this to a broader scale, I better understand how connections—not only between people but also between private and public sectors, philanthropy and community organizing—can create a more sustainable impact on ourselves and others.  When connecting with resources, knowing you are not alone in a movement can sustain an organization’s and individual’s goals for social change.  So in a similar way, this is what the program meant for me—to know that there are others who strive to make an impact that is not only meaningful, but sustainable.

So, thank you for all of your insights and contributions to the program.  You helped make this a wonderful, enriching, and enjoyable experience and I hope that you will be able to apply something you learned in this program in your future endeavors!  Best of luck and keep in touch! 



Takashi’s Blog Post

Innovation to impact 

2010.3.31 Takashi

We will thank you for giving us this chance to learn social innovation. Thank you Ben, Rebekah, Cybelle, Francisco, Stephanie, Mike, Kazutoh-san, Daichi-san and some entrepreneurs, officers, Stanford students, and everyone who were involved in this program! We can’t find any words to gratitude without “Thank you so much!” ~!!

1.   What is the innovation to impact?

Limited to social innovation its impact is related to social contribution, diffusion, sustainability I think.

1)     Social contribution

Each company or organization we met in SF and Stanford contributes to society. Tipping point and Habitat for Humanity contribute to solve the poverty. Diversity Works, Room to Read, Year Up and Bay-back contribute to improve the education of the minority, children who live in development country and low-income people. Garden Project, New Door Ventures and Year Up contribute to support employment of the inmate, minority and children who are troubled in mental. And World Centric, Jasper Ridge, inspirable Stanford student’s green club contribute to solve environmental issues. Actually I think this contribution is social contribution.

2)     Diffusion

 Social innovation related to diffusion globally, too. It means it is necessary to mimic its business model easily. For the case Grameen Bank its business model is called microfinance (Daichi-san’s inspirable presentation). Its model is easily to mimic by others. It will lead to wide economic growth!

3)     Sustainability

 Social innovation is led by universal & common mission. So everyone will believe that social innovation is needed to sustain the earth. For example, World Centric contributes to green the earth. People think that action is necessary. But the action should be considered on business side. Business side means whether the action is profitable. We must consider social innovation on the both side (social contribution and business).

2.   Causes of social innovation

I think social innovation causes five points as follows.

1) Unique Platform (business model)

2) Added Value (social design, social value)

3) Universal and Common Mission

4) Social Entrepreneurship

5) Voluntary spirit

Platform is a system to provide social value. That is shown at Year Up, Kiva and Tipping point. For example Year UP pay fee to students who study at Year UP which fund is consist of donation, investment from SVC (Tipping point.etc) and payment from companies which contracts with Year Up. That platform is unique because general vocational schools collect money from students. Added value means differentiation. For example IDEO add design thinking based on human activity to existing product. Dasher produced by IDEO is more useful. Universal Mission is expressed in each organization which we visited. For example Diversity Works expressed fairness of human race in mission. Social entrepreneurship is defined as having the following three components: (1) identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own; (2) identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony; and (3) forging the new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large. Voluntary spirit is a part of general humanity. It provides a cordial relief to the others. I feel it much in San Francisco and Stanford. I think that Japanese should learn it from American. Particularly in GLIDE church I felt strong emotion! There is a sense of unity and spirit of mutual help. Names of babies who were born in the area were called and all of participant there celebrated the new lives. Awesome!

Thank you all guys!

We are the team to contribute socially. Let’s keep in touch tightly forever! Let’s keep moving forward to realize new sustainable world and dancing!

See you cool guys~!!




Atsushi’s Blog Post

Today’s morning is very good. Like this picture, sun is shining, our hotel seems better than it is.

I think flowers also seem to laugh! Haha!

In this morning, we took DAICHI’S lecture! He lectured us about microfinance, which was getting attention due to Nobel Prize of Muhammad Yunus.

After Daichi’s presentation, we went to lunch near hotel. It was fascinating!

After lunch, ESI Coordinators teach us the key for successful presentation.

Be professional, tell the things in less words, etc. Saying easily, doing difficultly I think. But everyone tried!

Here are our great teachers! Their passions drive us positive, aggressive for communicate in English!

Amber Donnelly, project coordinator of Sunday Friends, came to our hotel.

The Working Alternative to Charity

Sunday Friends is the none-profit organization which help low-income families. Sunday Friends empowers families in need to break the cycle of poverty. Children and parents earn basic necessities while they contribute to their community, learn life skills and develop self-sufficiency. They give children opportunities to work as a volunteer. Through this ,  low-income families contribute to Sunday Friends community, and earn tickets for they need and want. need. Through this, families can develop new skills and attitude. 


This project is not charity. Participants in this program work together! It is a unique point of Sunday project. She said that for breaking the circle of poverty, it is important not only to support, but also to re-education.

Finally, She said this work is meaninggful to her. It is important to think about other’s situation. Her presentation gave us many insight.


Shiona’s Blog Post

It`s 7th day (March 24th) for our program. Today we had 2topics.

1)Morning talk with Chip Conley,CEO of GOOD HOTEL“sustainable business and CSR”
2) Visit Tech Museum“Tech Awards”

◆“Sustainable Business and CSR at GOOD HOTEL
 Chip Conley has graduated from Stanford Business School and has founded hotel business 23 years ago.

Uniqueness of his management is not only to give economic reward but also mental reward to their employee. This mental reward is to share “joy of live” with customer and to contribute to local community. This leads improvement of service quality, achievement of loyal customer and profit of company finally.

There are a lot of NPOs with Meaning but without Money. And there are also a lot of companies with Money but without Meaning. This speech indicated how to manage the company to have win & win & win relationship during company, employee and society.

Visit Tech Museum

We watched movie of space in planetarium and checked Tech Awards.I remembered Apollo program at that time. John F. Kennedy has released the statement that US brings human beings to the moon in ten years.

John F. Kennedy said,

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,”

At that time, NASA had no technology to go to the moon and didn’t think they can achieve it. But on 1969, the landing on the moon has been realized. What we have to learn from this case is that innovation is not the extension of reality. It was started by making dream! If we don’t want to go to the moon, we can’t go to the moon.

Now, what type of dream will we make?



Eri’s Blog Post

What is social entrepreneurship?

Eri Shimomukai

   Today, we were off to an exciting and cheerful day at one of the very creative enterprise, “Google.” Definitely, it was the highlight of our adventurous program. As soon as we found the colorful “Google” sign beside the road, the van was filled with our delight voices.

   The huge “campus” is about 4 square miles. “Google” was like an amusement park. 

      Colorful, playful, energetic and huge and CREATIVE. 

   The employees call themselves “Googler.” They apparently enjoy their work because working environment encourages them to be CREATIVE. The comfortable Californian sunlight was coming in from big windows on roofs. Some people were relaxing with reading papers and having free coffee at the lounge. Others were cheerfully playing ping-pong. 

   There, I was inspired by such a great spatial design which also designs workers’ motivation to produce good works.

   Then, I wondered whether Google is one of the most successful global enterprises, so they can afford to have such a creative and magnificent facilities? Or vise versa, because Google provides a creative environment, it has been amazingly successful. 

   It reminded me of IDEO. There, I also felt something strong and creative from their playful spatial design. And therefore, I realized that spatial design absolutely affects people’s mind, especially creativity and motivations. 

  Creative atmosphere creates creativity which leads people to some sort of success!

   In the afternoon, we came back to “our campus”, Stanford, and had a session with Gina Jorasch, the director of Center for Social Innovation (CSI), and Eric Nee, an editor of Stanford Social Innovation Review. She briefly introduced programs which the graduate school of Stanford provides such as field tour to poor countries. 

    The one I found the most interesting was a sort of business contest whose winner can get 100,000 dollars to make the business more expanded. There is definitely the best environment enhancing the youth’s motivation and sending off a large number of social entrepreneurs. In addition, Stanford is located at Sillicon Valley, the powerful place in terms of business and marketing. 

   Anyhow, I felt something bursting me wide open impossible to hide.

    “I’ll definitely come back here.”

  I would love to come back to Stanford to study social innovation in the future.