I’m building a community of South Asian student organizations to make large-scale social, political, and cultural impact. I want to strengthen this community by facilitating mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and brand partners. I’ve been working on CollegeDesis with varying levels of commitment for two years now and I want to share the three core motivations that turned this side project into an obsession: the technology, the business opportunity, and the social impact.
The South Asian student community is divided into 700 pieces (give or take) around the country. Connecting these pieces isn’t strictly a technical challenge, but it is a unique challenge. My goal is to design a network that not only creates incentives for communication and collaboration, but also disperses control to these 700 pieces and allows them to define who they’ll be together. There are plenty of social networks that help their members connect with each other; I want to create a social network that allows groups of people to connect with other groups. When groups of people come together, revolutions happen.
The Business Opportunity
The strength of a community depends on how well it exchanges value. I want to enhance the ability of South Asian student organizations to exchange value within and without themselves. The 700 autonomous and organized entities scattered around the country consist of thousands of dedicated members who collect dues, host fundraisers, and travel to competitive events. But they work too long and too hard and in isolation to make all this happen. I want to help these entities find their place in the national context, while enabling them to operate more efficiently in the local one. This includes giving them access to financial and technical resources, and making it easier for them to build and maintain their local communities.
The Social Impact
South Asians (and minorities in general) are making major progress establishing their place in American society. Projects like SASAI at the University of Pennsylvania and SAAN at the University of Michigan and non profits like The WLP are just a few of the initiatives that could transform the course of this nation’s culture if they had the tools to access a larger community.
I’m convinced that CollegeDesis can provide these tools and the consequences are exciting beyond measure: cultural and religious education, political affluence, and international collaboration come to mind.
According to estimates from the US Census Bureau, more than 126,000 students of South Asian descent were enrolled in colleges and universities in 2011.
These 126,000 are more diverse than they are the same, and I realize that the color of their skin is not enough to bind them. We are a complex combination of people with a complex set of backgrounds and interests and it would be foolish to assume we share a uni-layered affinity.
But the 700?
The 700 pieces of this community scattered around the country have similar interests, goals, and values.
Our mission at CollegeDesis is to build the tools to help these 700 South Asian student organizations connect, collaborate, and share. We think that in the process of doing so, we can help make the world a better place.
If you’d like to help:
- Share this post, especially with college and high school age students.
- If you’re a student, sign up.
- If you’re a programmer, contribute to the open source codebase.