In 2008, University of Michigan Global Business Partnership
announced the launch of the Eleanor Josaitis Global Citizenship Initiative in
honor of the Co-Founder of Focus: HOPE, Eleanor Josaitis. This Initiative
engages undergraduate and graduate students from diverse disciplines as members
of action learning teams working on human capital (housing, education,
healthcare and jobs) and global environmental (land, air, water, biodiversity)
projects partnered with corporations, NGOs and government agencies. In 2010 the
Initiative gave the first Eleanor Josaitis Social Entrepreneur Award to Tom
Torkelson, CEO and co-Founder of IDEA Public Schools in the Rio Grande Valley of
Texas. This year Bob E. Knowling, Chairman of Eagles Landing and former CEO of
the NYC Leadership Academy for school principals, will receive the award. He has
also been CEO of three high tech Silicon Valley start-up companies and Executive
Vice President of Operations & Technology at US West.
The Eleanor Josaitis award is a symbol of the
larger agenda of Michigan making a difference in the quality of life for those
at the base of the pyramid. A significant number of the Initiative’s projects
each year will be with Focus: HOPE to help continue fulfilling its mission. To
date, projects have included teams of MBA students working with Focus: HOPE on
its fundraising strategy, strengthening corporate partnerships, and expanding
its IT training programs. Other global citizenship projects have included:
• Covad sponsored a
team (Bob Knowling was CEO at the time) working on job training with the
unemployed in East Palo Alto.
• GE sponsored two
teams in India; one working on how to impact healthcare in the greater Bangalore
area and the other working with rural villages to help rebuild them after the
• 3M sponsored a
team in China to work on occupational safety.
• Dow sponsored a
team in Mexico working on environmental emissions.
• Grupo Salinas sponsored two teams to work on building
bottom of the pyramid new rural communities in Mexico.
The Initiative’s most recent project partnered students
from the University of Michigan Medical and Nursing schools with West Point
cadets. In partnership with P&G and Grupo Salinas, the students helped to
establish distribution channels for PUR, a water purification product, in
Oaxaca, Mexico. P&G’s PUR is able to purify 10 liters of water for only 3.7
cents per day and will be delivered to low income families through Grupo
Salinas’ Elektra stores helping to improve living conditions for thousands of
people. All of the Eleanor Josaitis Global Citizenship Initiative projects will
harness student diversity to deliver practical solutions to racism and poverty,
with the Focus: HOPE mission statement, broadened to a global context.