As stu­dent leaders within Northeastern’s social impact ecosystem, Alexandra Fraenkel and Rebecca Dar­ling often rec­og­nize the “change­maker” spirit of their fellow students—their desire to help solve social chal­lenges within their community.

But they often ponder the best way to help these nascent human­i­tar­ians har­ness their desire to make mean­ingful con­tri­bu­tions to social change.

Last week, they might have found the answer, when North­eastern was named a “Change­maker Campus” by Ashoka U, joining a global net­work of uni­ver­si­ties rec­og­nized for out­standing achieve­ment in social inno­va­tion edu­ca­tion. Only 34 other higher edu­ca­tion institutions—including Duke Uni­ver­sity, Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, Brown, Cor­nell and the Uni­ver­sity of Northampton in England—have earned the distinction.

This will help us gain momentum around the change­maker con­cept and get stu­dents across campus excited about all the pos­sible oppor­tu­ni­ties this offers,” said Fraenkel, SSH’15. “This is a new start and it is time to cel­e­brate what has led us all here but also encourage each other to try some­thing new.”


Left, Rebecca Riccio, founding director of the Social Impact Lab, Alexandra Fraenkel, and Rebecca Dar­ling, holding the “Change­maker Campus” award pre­sented to them at the Ashoka U Exchange last week. Cour­tesy photo

There are number oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to make a dif­fer­ence. They can work with IDEA, the university’s student-​​run ven­ture, to launch a social impact-​​focused ven­ture, take part in a service-​​learning pro­gram through the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute, or walk with Northeastern’s Relay For Life, to name just a few.

North­eastern will cel­e­brate stu­dents’ con­tri­bu­tions to social change on Monday with Change­maker Day, a student-​​led effort to rec­og­nize the university’s achieve­ments in social inno­va­tion. A variety of campus activ­i­ties are planned in the Curry Stu­dent Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a town hall meeting for fac­ulty and staff at 1:30 p.m. in the Alumni Center, and a net­working event in after­HOURS will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Fraenkel and Dar­ling cul­ti­vated their change­maker pas­sion through North­eastern Students4Giving, an expe­ri­en­tial phil­an­thropy edu­ca­tion pro­gram in the Social Impact Lab that com­bines rig­orous aca­d­emic work with real-​​dollar grant making to address social chal­lenges in Boston neighborhoods.

The idea of change­making is not busi­ness, it is not psy­chology, it is not human ser­vices. It is a com­bi­na­tion of all those fac­tors and it can mate­ri­alize in what­ever aligns with a person’s interest,” said Dar­ling, SSH’15. “Everyone sees social prob­lems in their lives and they are moti­vated to create some change around that.”

Dar­ling and Fraenkel have spoken with many stu­dents who said they couldn’t wait to har­ness the pos­si­bil­i­ties of Northeastern’s new “change­maker” des­ig­na­tion to facil­i­tate mean­ingful social change. “It is a real oppor­tu­nity for stu­dents to come together and make what we want out of the des­ig­na­tion,” Fraenkel said.