Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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College Partners with Local Business in Social Enterprise Internship

A team of five Florida State University students is working to create a small-scale social enterprise through a unique internship.

The internship is made possible through a partnership between local merchant RedEye Coffee and the new social entrepreneurship and innovation specialization within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Interdisciplinary Social Science (ISS) program. The partnership gives students the opportunity to learn about creating and sustaining an enterprise dedicated to positive social change using RedEye’s resources and business model.

RedEye markets fair-trade, organic coffee and other products in its café and mobile coffee truck with a goal of supporting local and global humanitarian efforts. Among the projects RedEye supports are Porch de Solomon (building homes and supplying needed medical services in Guatemala), Trade School Haiti (empowering Haitians to create a sustainable economy), Serve Tallahassee (holding food drives and other charitable events to benefit those in need within the Big Bend area), and a completed documentary produced by Unseen Stories revealing child trafficking in Benin, Africa.

Under the mentorship of Mark McNees, founder of RedEye Coffee, the students are designing a business plan for the mobile coffee truck that aligns with the company’s aims and model. The student team will take the RedEye truck to targeted locations, specifically the downtown area during the legislative session, and sell coffee directly to customers. The net revenue they generate will help fund scholarships supporting international internship and study opportunities for students in the ISS social entrepreneurship and innovation program.

“We would love to see this enterprise have the greatest possible impact,” notes Bruce Manciagli, social entrepreneur-in-residence at FSU and instructor of the introductory social entrepreneurship course in the ISS program. “But we don’t expect a venture on such a small and time-limited scale to be a big generator of revenue right off. Its greatest value is in giving these students the opportunity to learn the ropes of creating and maintaining a sustainable social enterprise.”

The RedEye team includes three students from the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy and two College of Business students: Samantha Matras (economics and social work major), Kara Kesler (political science/international affairs), Rebecca Wunderlich (international affairs, public administration), Macy Beswick (marketing), and Trey Christopher (finance).

Most of the students on the team have taken or are currently taking one of several social entrepreneurship courses offered through ISS, economics, and public administration within the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Students from across the university, regardless of major, can pursue a specialization in social entrepreneurship and innovation through a series of courses and participate in high-quality local, national, and international internships.