SLS Signature Partner: Center for Civic Innovation

January 19, 2021

SLS is excited to announce a new partnership category, Signature Partners, and the first SLS Signature Partner organization: Center for Civic Innovation (CCI). During Spring semester 2020, SLS staff worked with the SLS Partnership Advisory Council (PAC) to expand and revise the SLS Partnership Strategy. During that process, we created the Signature Partner category with the following objectives: strengthen ongoing, rich opportunities for our closest partners; deepen the learning experiences of our students; and, ultimately, have greater impact advancing sustainable development. The program will support these aims by putting in place a more formal and transparent set of partnership expectations and incorporating regular check-in opportunities for communication, reflection, and continuous improvement.

To select Signature Partners from among the organizations SLS collaborates with regularly, we agreed we would consider the following: commitment to relationship-building; engagement in multiple SLS programs over time; and organizational commitment to their role as co-educators of our students. A close partner on social innovation over the past several years, Center for Civic Innovation meets all these criteria, and SLS is pleased to announce that that CCI has agreed to enter into a Signature Partner relationship with SLS. In the coming years, SLS hopes to invite additional close community partner organizations to consider becoming Signature Partners.

About Center for Civic Innovation and its partnership with SLS

Atlanta’s self-described “Home for Good Trouble,” the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) has been serving social entrepreneurs since 2014. CCI seeks to transform Atlanta’s legacy of large income inequality gaps and low upward mobility rates by elevating “more effective solutions that improve equality and build trust in the public sector.” Over the past several years CCI has partnered with SLS on a variety of courses, internships, and events. Sagdrina Jalal, CCI Community Director and Fellowships Program Co-Director, serves on the SLS PAC.

CCI has worked closely with SLS and Georgia Tech's Institute for Leadership and Social Impact on Buzz Courses focused on Social Innovation. These short courses introduce participants to opportunities to use innovation as a tool for social impact and expose them to some of Atlanta's experience and burgeoning civic entrepreneurs - problem solvers working locally to tackle large-scale challenges in new and creative ways. Completing the Social Innovation Buzz Course partially fulfills the requirements of the SLS Signature Program Innovating for Social Impact (I4SI).

Buzz Course participants and SLS summer interns have worked closely with CCI Fellows. The CCI Fellowship program is designed for grassroots leaders, entrepreneurs, and movement builders with impactful solutions to address social and economic inequality in Atlanta communities, but who have not, generally speaking, been afforded the resources to support their work. During the Fall 2019 Buzz Course, teams had the opportunity to work with several innovative organizations including Akissi Stokes’ WUNDERgrubs, a business that produces highly nutritious, alternative protein foods, and Carrie’s Closet of Georgia, founded by Mamie Harper, which provides pop-up clothes closets for children in foster care. In each case, Buzz Course teams and CCI Fellows worked together to identify challenges and opportunities and advance priorities.

In addition to the Social Innovation Buzz Courses, SLS has sponsored Georgia Tech students to attend CCI’s summer Social Innovation “Boot Camp.” According to participant Mira Kaufman, this summer workshop helped participants understand how to develop social entrepreneurship ideas that are “truly based on community need rather than their own personal vision of actions they thought might help a community.” CCI also collaborates with SLS and the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact on events, including the Social Impact Series.

CCI Founder and Executive Director Rohit Malhotra shared this reflection on the most recent Social Innovation Buzz Course:

"This course was an incredible opportunity to connect students with four incredible female civic entrepreneurs who represent what it means to 'do the work.' Together, these entrepreneurs learned from the vision and talent of the students, and the students gained inspiration and insight from the entrepreneurs. We believe this will forge a long-lasting impression and relationship between the amazing people the Center for Civic Innovation works with every day and the ever-so-talented students at Georgia Tech."

During Spring semester 2021, SLS will again partner with CCI and the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact to offer a third Social Innovation Buzz Course.


Rebecca Watts Hull is Service Learning and Partnerships Specialist with SLS and has an adjunct appointment in the School of History and Sociology. Her role with SLS includes facilitating SLS’ Partnership Advisory Council, which includes Sagdrina Jalal, Director of Programs and Partnerships at CCI.