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The Greenhouse Initiative: Spark SC

How can gender equality help solve the environmental crisis? This student-led organization has some ideas.

The Greenhouse Initiative: Spark SC

Inspired by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, this student-led group knows that a brighter future will only be achieved when everyone has a seat at the table. Through an annual women’s only make-a-thon, Spark SC, allows women in engineering and design come together to learn new skills and build projects.

The Greenhouse Initiative: In 2017, we partnered with Sambazon to find students and student-led organizations around the nation that are putting in work to create change in their communities and ecosystems

Break to Make by Spark SC has a knack for seeing the Big Picture. For one, their mission is inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals as identified by the United Nations; and their event, Break to Make, aims to solve gender inequality as a solution to global warming and other pressing environmental issues.

Break to Make is an annual two day, all-women make-a-thon where women in engineering and design come to learn new skills in electronics, prototyping, robotics, and pitching; hear from speakers in related industries; build projects that are then presented to a panel of judges. The event was created to foster a supportive learning environment for women interested in maker culture and product design while furthering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. What does a successful event look like for them? “We hope to give all of our attendees the confidence to not only point out but to take action on, the things they see that can be improved to help our planet.”

So how does Spark SC see Break to Make benefitting future generations? They look at things from a 30,000 foot view when thinking about the future of our planet — and pair it with tangible action: “There’s a reason why UN Sustainable Development Goal #5 is achieving global gender equality: If we’re going to solve climate change and some of the biggest environmental challenges of the 21st century, we need to rely on the leadership and creative potential of all members of our society, not just a few. It’s been shown that some of the most successful companies in the world are those that embrace diversity and inclusion the most. And it’s because bringing fresh perspectives to the table naturally brings new ideas and insight that have never even been considered before. This is what we hope to accomplish through Break to Make. The top teams in our Fall 2017 event put together things like an energy-generating desk and a virtual reality simulation of green homes of the future.”

This student-led hub’s mission is to inspire a culture of innovation, expose students to their creative potential, and connect makers across diverse communities. While traditional entrepreneurship clubs focus on writing business plans and forming companies, Spark SC centers on growing the entrepreneurial mindset itself, empowering individuals from all walks of life to make the changes they want to see in our environment and society.

Spark SC’s partnership with Sambazon, which was secured through the Greenhouse Initiative, will benefit their fall 2018 Break to Make event, which will showcase 200 women, whose drivers will be “seeking sustainable solutions to the perennial questions of food, water, and shelter.” This spring, they’re also hosting The Social Entrepreneur’s Makeathon, a mini make-a-thon that will see 50 students collaboratively tackle a single carefully-selected challenge pertaining to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in one full day.

It’s clear that creativity, innovative ideas, and sharing knowledge are big drivers for Spark SC. Which is why they connect so strongly with Sambazon. “The story of how Sambazon was started when its founders decided to bring the acai berry, both delicious and healthy, from Brazil to the United States and create a business model that protects the Amazon rainforest instead of destroying it is incredibly inspiring. It also highlights the importance of sharing ideas across borders to create value. In some sense acai is an amazing ‘idea’ that has been even more successful after being ‘shared’ with the rest of the world.”

Their advice for reducing your impact on the environment? A plant-based diet. “Try moving towards a plant-based diet! There are so many moral, health, and environmental reasons for reducing meat consumption. Every gram of plant protein is 10x more resource efficient than animal protein. Factory farming is one of the biggest causes of climate change. Meatless Mondays is the way to go, and it’s something everyone can do.”

Learn more about Spark SC and Break to Make here.

Team members: Mimi Tran Zambetti, Landon Brand, Lysandra Vuong, Martin Anquetil, Russell Tran