How LearnServe introduces DC-area kids to social entrepreneurship - DC


Feb. 22, 2018 12:34 pm

How LearnServe introduces DC-area kids to social entrepreneurship

The program provides social impact training for more than 500 students in nearly 50 schools.

At a LearnServe event.

(Photo via Facebook)

LearnServe International, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging students to tackle social change, is currently working with 500 kids in nearly 50 D.C. area schools. The program, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary at a gala on March 15, includes summer trips with to developing countries.

Back in 2004, Sebastian Martin was attending the Washington International School and participated with LearnServe, which took him to Ethiopia that summer. Less than a decade later, Martin founded Cambio Coffee, an organic, direct trade Latin American specialty coffee company based in Shanghai, China. A percentage of his profits goes also back to coffee-producing communities in his home country of Bolivia.

“After Ethiopia, part of me wanted to start a movement, a revolution, some world-changing innovation; and another part of me was incredibly humbled and content with starting a small initiative, convinced that if I could improve even one person or family, my work would be meaningful,” Sebastian recently wrote on a LearnServe blog. “The trip opened up my mind to the realities of developing countries beyond the Bolivia of my youth where I visited family. It made me aware of a global human narrative, of a commonality between all people, and of a struggle that involved all of us – facts that many people in the U.S. seemed unaware of.”

Sebastian Martin, the owner of Cambio Coffee, is a LearnServe alum. (Courtesy photo)

Sebastian Martin, the owner of Cambio Coffee, is a LearnServe alum. (Courtesy photo)



Martin will receive the LearnServe entrepreneurship award at LearnServe‘s 15th Anniversary Gala: Social Innovation Starts With You! The civic champion award will also be given to Catherine Tinsley, the LearnServe International Board Chair since 2010, and Karl and Angela Bennett will receive the global perspective award for their nonprofit KBC Learning, which has taught literacy in Jamaica since 2011.

“It’s easy to be overwhelmed by social issues and it’s great to work with students who haven’t been told no, that they can’t do things,” Emma Strother, LearnServe’s development manager, told DC. “…We ask them when they look at the world, at things they couldn’t possibly believe are the way they are – and then we ask them what are they going to do about it?”
The LearnServe gala will be held at Dock5 at Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE, and begins at 6 p.m.
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