The participants then had an afternoon and a morning work session split by a presentation from Kate Lessard, of foundation relations in MIT. She informed participants about the different avenues to pursue for funding projects and went into detail about how to work with Foundations to help fund charitable organizations. She simplified quite a complex process by telling the participants that some key questions needed to be asked of themselves even before they approach the foundations themselves. The key questions went something like this:
What problem will you solve?
Who will be served?
How many people will be served?
How will you measure impact?
How will you sustain the project (what will happen in the long run)?
This session, in conjunction with the entrepreneurship session given by Paul Hudnut, and the lunch sponsored by the Public Service Centre, has the aim of helping to provide participants with the necessary tools and information to help them implement their projects once they leave MIT at the end of the conference. Kate also highlighted the importance of building a good working relationship with the foundation that is sponsoring you to ensure that the goals of those behind the project, and those behind the funds, are completely aligned.
In the evening, there was a presentation by TIE Boston, Social Entrepreneur division on Global Crisis for Water and Sanitation. We were provided with some Indian food for the dinner before a panel which included Denise D. Knight of the Coca Cola Company’s Water Sustainability Initiative; Michael Delaney, Director of Oxfam America’s Humanitarian Response; Dr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Asoc. Prof., MIT and Lotika Paintal, founder of a start up non-profit, Water Centric. Lotika was also moderating the panel and I found her presentation on her newly formed venture, Water Centric extremely interesting. It gave an insight into the ways in which a newly formed venture could effectively tackle a very specific issues by working closely with community partners.
The panel finished at about 8pm but most teams continued to work late into the night, in preparation for the second round of design reviews, due to take place tomorrow afternoon. Taking into account the long work hours, the level of camaraderie and energy the participants have shown is exceptional. The rope way transport team, in particular, always seem to be up to some kind of mischief, hidden away in D-lab!