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Excited to be Part of the Hillel Social Startup Fellowship!

by Sierra Weiss |Feb 24, 2015|Comments

Sierra_Weiss.Sierra Weiss is the Founder and President of dance4empowerment, inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The mission of dance4empowerment is to organize and fund dance programs for people with disabilities as a means of improving self-esteem, social integration, and cognitive awareness. This piece was originally posted on the dance4empowerment blog. 

Sierra is one of the twelve inaugural Social Startup Fellows, a unique fellowship offered through Hillel International’s partnership with PresenTense. Learn more about the fellowship here. 

Recently I was invited to join a select group of other college students in Washington, DC. I was not sure what to expect when I applied for Hillel International’s Social Startup Fellowship, a program designed to jumpstart or reinvigorate innovators and entrepreneurs on college campuses across North America.  I thought the program sounded like an interesting opportunity to work on developing dance4empowerment among other motivated and passionate college students.  Imagine my excitement when I was accepted and informed that training starts in early February at Hillel’s headquarters in DC!

In preparation for the kick-off training session, I learned about the other Fellows’ innovative ideas.  I was impressed by the diversity of the group and the commitment of each student to their own project. Since starting at Emory, I have not met other students working on projects like dance4empowerment, students who commit an abundance of time and passion outside the classroom, so I was really looking forward to joining a small community of young entrepreneurs.  When I arrived at our first meeting, I immediately felt the energy in the room and I was ready to start learning how to raise dance4empowerment to the next level.

Through a series of seminars and activities lead by the amazing Hillel and PresenTense staff, I learned so much about myself and dance4empowerment.  I haven’t really had the opportunity to step back and access my plans and/or goals since dance4empowerment was initially conceptualized.  Now, with the completion of only a small portion of the Fellowship curriculum, my ideas and plans are expanding and developing in new and unforeseen ways; I am exhilarated for the next portion of the program.

The first cohort of Hillel's Social Startup Fellows at the Schusterman International Center for their first seminar in February 2015.

In the coming weeks, I will be paired with a mentor in the field of my venture who will guide me in further developing dance4empowerment.  I am looking forward to meeting my mentor and learning as much as possible from him/her.  I have been extremely fortunate to have met many impressive and inspiring people throughout my journey with dance4empowerment and I am so excited to have been given this new opportunity to make dance4empowerment a huge success!

I will be sharing more blogs about my experiences in the Hillel Social Startup Fellowship.  Please stay tuned and thank you for all your support along the way!

Dance, move, and empower,


Sierra Weiss is a freshman at Emory University

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  • Hillel's Social Startup Fellowship
  • Emory University
  • dance4empowerment
  • Social Startup Fellows
  • PresenTense
  • Sierra Weiss

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