“In today’s world, we see a global leadership crisis,” says George Tsiatis, CEO and co-founder of the Resolution Project, an organization that funds, mentors and supports college students who are starting social-impact enterprises. “If we want great leaders, we’ve got to start training them and building them up to be those leaders from an early age.”
It is a common sentiment, but Tsiatis has taken it extraordinarily seriously. As an undergraduate, he was deeply involved in organizing the Harvard World Model United Nations, which brought together students from around the globe, with two of his college friends. And while Tsiatis, along with Howard Levine and Oliver B. Libby, enjoyed the experience, they felt unsatisfied after it concluded.
“We were bringing together these bright people from incredible backgrounds, and we were simulating something,” says Libby, the Resolution Project’s chairman and co-founder. “And that’s a valuable educational experience, but we noticed — George, Howard and I — that there was something left on the table.”
In 2007, as recent graduates, Levine, Libby and Tsiatis returned to the World Model United Nations, where they invited the undergraduate “delegates” to share their ideas for socially responsible ventures. The response was overwhelming, and they saw potential in helping these students launch their ideas. Not long after, the three friends started the Resolution Project.
Today, the Resolution Project runs eight to 10 competitions a year at undergraduate youth conferences around the world to select its fellows. After a rigorous process in which the aspiring entrepreneurs pitch and defend their ideas, the winners gain a wide support network, including two mentors who guide them through the peaks and valleys that come with starting any business or nonprofit.
Fellows are also granted seed funding, which ranges from $1,500 to $5,000. Crucially, the fellowships include lifelong support that’s not tied to the particular starting venture, which, like all new endeavors, may or may not succeed. Instead, the idea is to find would-be leaders and put them on the path toward developing and refining those skills. So far, nearly 400 fellows have created over 240 social enterprises in more than 20 states and 70 countries. These efforts have impacted over 1 million people.
“Young leaders are told, quite frequently, that they are the leaders of tomorrow and so many of them have ideas for things they could be doing now,” says Levine.
Watch the video above to see how the Resolution Project opens up possibilities for ambitious young people and, by extension, the world.