Research Covers Social Impact of Solar Lights in Tanzanian Villages

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 15, 2016 –Leslie Gray, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University, has been named the inaugural Miller Center Summer Chair in social-impact assessment.

Miller Center Summer Chairs draw on the expertise of Santa Clara University faculty to advance the global social-entrepreneur movement and the strategic initiatives of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship: social impact assessment; climate resilience; and “women rising.”

During 2016, Gray will direct an action research project to better understand the social benefit of the solar lights provided to the rural customers of Solar Sister, a “social enterprise” that went through Miller Center’s accelerator program, the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®), in 2011. Social enterprises are organizations that use businesses or business strategies to solve persistent social problems such as those due to poverty.

Gray will supervise two student Global Social Benefit Fellows conducting the research, including eight weeks of fieldwork in Tanzania. The research will cover the social impact of Solar Sister solar products and programs including:    

  1. Local small businesses made possible by Solar Sister products
  2. Positive health outcome impacts
  3. Education impacts

“We are excited to have Dr. Gray participate in this year’s action research project,” said Keith Warner, director of education and action research at Miller Center. “As part of her summer chair responsibilities, Dr. Gray will design the research project, participate in the fieldwork, and oversee the writing of a white paper and a peer-reviewed journal article. This important work advances how to measure impact in the social enterprise sector.”

Two Santa Clara University juniors have received Global Social Benefit Fellowships to serve as research assistants for Gray. Victoria Yu is a junior majoring in communication with a background in writing and research. Alaina Boyle is a junior majoring in psychobiology, who spent last summer teaching in The Gambia, West Africa. Both are in Santa Clara University’s Honors Program, and Alaina is a Johnson Scholar. These students will participate fully in the field research, and will assist Gray in writing manuscripts.

For more information:

Learn more about the Global Social Benefit Fellowship and its action research products.

About Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI), Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about the Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, visit www.scu.edu/MillerCenter

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.’s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

Media Contacts

Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-5121

Pat Haines | Miller Center | phaines@scu.edu | 408-551-7118

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