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The Graduation Pledge: What If Every College Graduate Entered the World of Work With a Commitment to a Better World
As the Class of 2014 enters the workforce, they’re looking for more than a paycheck and the corner office. Social and environmental responsibility tops their professional wish list, as graduates at hundreds of campuses across the globe sign the Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) to explore job opportunities with that in mind. Housed at Bentley University since 2007, the pledge is currently part of the Bentley Service-Learning Center (BSLC).
“We’re excited and proud to host the GPA,” says BSLC Director Jonathan White. “The center is a national thought-leader in service-learning and civic engagement and Bentley is a national leader of civically engaged business schools. Housing the GPA and having our students involved in it is important to us, as GPA is a powerful tool for encouraging a new generation of graduates to work to transform their workplaces around social and environmental responsibility.”
A recent survey by Deloitte (The Millennial Survey 2014) found that “millennials believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, with a focus on improving society among the most important things it should seek to achieve.
”Since 1987, the Graduation Pledge Alliance has advanced this kind of vision. Bill Benet, executive director for the Graduation Pledge Alliance, states that “Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of graduating students have signed the Graduation Pledge and entered their work lives with a commitment to make a change.”
The Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility states: “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.” Those who have signed it have engaged in initiatives such as developing recycling programs, establishing supply chains with environmentally friendly products, implementing social enterprise strategies to meet local community needs, and advancing workplace policies to support families.
The Graduation Pledge originated at Humboldt State College in California as a student led initiative and rapidly spread across the United States and the World. It encompasses hundreds of campuses, including schools in most states in the U.S. and international campuses as far as Pakistan and Taiwan.
“Working with the BSLC will allow us to develop and incorporate new transformative educational approaches to reach Pledge signers,” says Benet. “This will add to the ability of those students who sign the Graduation Pledge to continue to live out the pledge throughout their lives after college.”
“The pledge offers our students a powerful opportunity to work on an international campaign bridging academia and the business world with social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and global citizenship,” White adds. “Imagine the world that can be created if current college graduates move forward with their pledge, and become better stewards for our planet and deeper advocates for more humanistic business models and practices.”
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The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.