Kenan Social Engagement Program:
Empowering students to be community changemakers

The Kenan Social Engagement Scholarship Program provides scholarships and seed funding to Wilkes Honors College students who learn about social entrepreneurship and write business plans to start their own social enterprises. The program is designed to educate students in the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship; help them develop plans for addressing a pressing social need; and assist them in partnering with nonprofit organizations. 

Students in the program also complete twenty hours of academic service learning with a community partner. So far, the Kenan Social Engagement Program has partnered with: El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center, The Lord’s Place, The Palm Beach County Food Bank, The Town of Jupiter, Easterseals Florida, Mind and Melody, Path to College, and Quantum House.

Some of the social ventures initiated by Wilkes Honors College students in this program include:

  • LifeMetrics: An application devoted to expanding quantitative means of self-measurement and self-improvement. We are now focused on an iOS app (Android app TBD) that provides a wide variety of clinical psychology inspired questions and actionable insights to improve physical and psychological well-being using data from wearable devices to develop a better system to quantify psychological health.
  • Princesses Against Cancer: is a 501c3 non-profit organization that uses costumed character parties for healthy children to raise revenue to support parties for children suffering from terminal illnesses.
  • Neurosynch Health Center: a health clinic designed to treat physical and mental health using science, arts, and technology combined to create a unique personalized approach.
  • Southpaw Prince Inc: a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization with a mission to provide low-income students with an after-school boxing training program focused on discipline, character building, and mentorship.
  • Daisy: is a nonprofit organization that aims to facilitate the donation of feminine hygiene products to homeless and at-risk women by selling “period kits” to shelters or homeless resource centers.
  • BookMe: an app that helps non-profit organizations to leverage their resources for good by providing a platform for resource sharing across organizations and businesses.
  • Zito Equestrian: a horse-boarding business that provides equine therapy for children and adults with special needs while also rescuing and rehabilitating horses from the equestrian community.
  • Joshua Landscaping: a landscaping business employing formerly homeless individuals at The Lord’s Place.
  • Let it Rot: A food-recycling program that turns food waste into high-quality fertilizer using vermiculture.
  • Mind and Melody: a 501(c) (3) organization that utilizes novel music programs at healthcare facilities, nursing homes, day centers, and assisted living facilities to improve the quality of life for individuals with and without neurological impairments like dementia.
  • Thyme for Tikes: An after-school cooking program in collaboration with the Palm Beach County Food Bank that provides fresh food to kids at the Edna Runner Tutorial Center and teaches them about healthy eating. 


Kenan Profiles

R.J. Muniz

R.J. Muniz '18

“The Kenan program accelerated the trajectory of my social venture [Southpaw Prince]. I came into the Kenan program with a passion for sports and helping children, and I left the program with a sustainable social enterprise that will now be able to make a genuine impact in the local community.

Megan Geiger

Melanie Oates '16

Kenan Scholar

“The Kenan Social Entrepreneurship Program is an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about both the non-profit and business sectors while helping address societal issues within their own community. While taking part in the program I was able to learn the ins and outs of the non-profit system and work directly with local non-profit organizations to combat the issue of hunger in Palm Beach County. It also provided me with invaluable business-planning skills that I will be able to utilize in a wide variety of settings throughout the rest of my life. All in all, this program is an amazing experience for students of any background or concentration to learn more about their community and how to productively engage with it.”

Ben Arsali

Ben Arsali '15

Kenan Scholar and winner of the $15,000 start-up funding
"Getting involved in the world of social entrepreneurship has really changed my life".

Getting involved in the world of social entrepreneurship has really changed my life. Due to the generous grant from the Kenan Foundation, I was able to kick-off the non-profit landscaping company that I proposed in my business plan. The first step into breaking the cycle of homelessness is employment. This company has already begun to change lives in the community. We are projected to employ 25-50 formerly homeless individuals within three years.—Read more here about Ben Arsali's story.

Akemi Inamoto

Lauren Koff ’14 and Cristina Rodriguez ’14

Cristina Rodriguez ’15 and Lauren Koff ’15 co-founded Mind&Melody, Inc., a non-profit organization that implements music programs for individuals with neurological impairments with the help of the Kenan Social Engagment Program. Now, with more than 150 volunteers, Mind&Melody is conducting its music education program at six wellness centers throughout Florida. Two of those are in Miami-Dade — Easter Seals South Florida and My New Oasis — and five have begun paying for the service. The program is meant to enrich the lives of those being treated for dementia, Alzheimer’s and other similar neurological conditions. Mind&Melody volunteers teach those with an interest in music to play instruments, then play along with them.“If we can just make people’s lives easier, or bring some joy through that entire process, it’s worth it,” Rodriguez said. The organization was recently profiled in the Miami Herald for its growth, to more than 150 volunteers and programs in six wellness centers throughout Florida. “If we can just make people’s lives easier, or bring some joy through that entire process, it’s worth it,” said Rodriguez. Read more.

Megan Geiger

Melissa Corichi

Kenan Scholar

Let it Rot is an organic waste recycling company that uses vermiculture (the farming of earthworms) to produce garden products out of garbage. Let it Rot was founded by Melissa Corichi, in 2015 as part of the Kenan Social Engagement Program. Under the guidance of Dr. Timothy Steigenga and Dr. Christopher Strain, Melissa was able to write and develop a viable business plan that not only benefits the community and environment, but also generates profits. Currently, Let it Rot recycles 500 pounds of food and paper based waste materials by using it as a feed stock for its colony of earthworms. Melissa has plans to expand the operation by securing a 1/5 acre of land and began construction on a new worm farming facility in August of 2016, which will make Let it Rot one of the largest worm farms in the state of Florida.

Christina Pelluzo Powell

Jaspar Leahy '15

Kenan Scholar

My time as a Kenan Social Engagement scholar was a formative period of my academic and professional life. Before I took the Social Entrepreneurship course, I had a vague idea about how I could make my interests in social action and international studies combine, but it was during that time that I decided to pursue an applied thesis working on educational strategies to reach former child soldiers in Liberia. After graduation, I worked in the field of refugee resettlement and have continued on to a Master’s program at Teachers College, Columbia University in International Educational Development.
Thinking back to my time as a Kenan scholar, I cannot emphasize enough how important it was for me as a young woman to be in a space where I was able to think about alternate methods of conducting business. Even though I had always grown up believing in the equality of women and men, I was still socialized to think that business was a men's field, and most of what I heard or experienced in the field was based on principles of competition and capital gain which were not things that motivated me. Once I began to learn about social entrepreneurship, my attitudes towards business began to change. I recognized that I appreciated what business could accomplish if you moved beyond the bottom line to a double or triple bottom line. Sustainability and meeting a social need motivate me in a way that competition and capital gain could not. I learned that business skills are incredibly useful in any endeavor, especially when coupled with a desire to create meaningful social impact.

Megan Keith

Megan Keith '14

Kenan Scholar

”My project focused on developing a guide to local health and transportation services for members of the immigrant community. My goal was to develop an easy-to-read guide written in Spanish that would allow members of the immigrant community to quickly find the health service best suited to their needs. By working with the health education staff at El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center, I was able to survey members of the community and ask them what information would be most helpful to them. El Sol has since been able to develop more detailed information to be distributed among Jupiter’s immigrant community, creating a healthier and safer environment throughout the city.” –Megan Geiger Keith graduated from the Honors College in 2014 and received her M.A. in Religious Studies from UF in 2016. She currently works as an admissions recruiter for the Wilkes Honors College of FAU.


Details of the Scholarship:

All applicants will be required to complete a three-credit course in social entrepreneurship (IDS 3932: Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship) during the Fall semester during which they will write a business plan for a social venture. Up to three students will be awarded scholarships based on their business plans. After scholarships are awarded, students will register for a 1-credit Directed Independent Study on social entrepreneurship during which they will implement their business plans; report on the projects; and develop an ongoing, sustainable plan for continuation of their social ventures. Each student may receive:

  • $1000/ per semester in scholarship money which is stackable with existing HC scholarship awards(renewable as noted above)
  • (Students receiving the Flagler, Cornell or other full scholarship cannot stack this part of the award).
  • $2500 in seed money to initiate a service project proposed by the student;

Proposals from qualified students will be reviewed and one may be selected to receive a $10,000 seed grant (rather than $2500) for the project deemed most likely to make a positive and sustainable difference in the community. Further details of the program are outlined in the application. 


Applicants/Recipients Must:

  • Be a full-time Wilkes Honors College student in good standing who has a minimum of two years remaining at the Wilkes Honors College at the time of application; Provide evidence of relevant skills (computer skills, website development, fundraising experience, etc.);
  • Provide evidence of a commitment to community service and an interest in social entrepreneurship;
  • Achieve and maintain a cumulative Wilkes Honors College GPA of 3.25 or above; Submit scholarship application and supportive materials to Dr. Strain and Dr. Steigenga prior to the application deadline.
  • Take IDS 3932 Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Engagement and Social Entrepreneurship with Dr. Strain and Dr. Steigenga.


How to Apply

Simply fill out the application.

Register for IDS 3932: Honors Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry Seminar: Social Entrepreneurship in the Fall Semester

For more information, please contact the co-directors of the program:
Dr. Timothy Steigenga (561.799.8610, HC 104)
Dr. Christopher Strain (561.799.8017, HC 103)


Application Requirements:

  • Completed and signed application form;
  • Official or unofficial transcripts of academic record for all college work attempted; At least one letter of recommendation that addresses the candidate s commitment to community service, critical thinking ability, work habits, and other relevant skills (the letter must be from someone who is not a member of the scholarship committee);
  • A resume detailing community service, employment history, academic achievements, skills and interests, and honors and awards;
  • A brief (not to exceed 500 words) essay detailing your interest in service;
  • A brief (not to exceed 500 words) explanation of unmet financial need.


About the Donor:

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust was established in 1966 by a bequest from the estate of chemist and industrialist William R. Kenan, Jr. Learn more about the Kenan trust here.