Noble Impact: Sponsor Feature


by Emily Reeves

Director of Digital Innovation and Insight Planning at Stone Ward

Follow Emily on Twitter @Reeves501.


Noble Impact’s Chad Williamson conducted an email Q&A with me to give us his perspective on Startup Weekend and why Noble Impact is participating.

First, tell us a little bit about Noble Impact. What is your 60-second pitch?

Noble Impact is an organization that believes in two distinct factors regarding education:

  1. 21st century students have a need for meaning in their lives.

  2. When presented with real world problems and empowered with the right skillset, students can discover their true potential with a public service attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit.

We’re in the business of building bridges between classrooms and communities. Our curriculum focuses on introducing opportunities that engage students in public service as entrepreneurs. In partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service, we provide the tools to make that difference and also provide the connections for students to realize potential.

How did the idea for Noble Impact originate and how long have you been working as Noble Impact now?

Conversations about Noble Impact started over two years ago when I met Steve Clark at a restaurant in Cincinnati. At the time, I was commuting between Little Rock and Cincinnati for my work with Dhani Jones and BowTie Cause. Steve had flown in from Fort Smith and was in Cincinnati to launch a new branch of Rockfish Interactive, based in Northwest Arkansas.

About 15 minutes into our conversation, we realized a common passion for education, specifically high school education. An hour later, we had lost track of time and were still talking about it. He had some big ideas about making a difference in education and as he was leaving he said, “Think about the word Noble; I really like that word; it just resonates.”

That was it.

We then exchanged text messages back and forth over the next couple years until last November when he texted, “When you’re ready for a new challenge, let me know.” That put the wheels in motion. We officially launched Noble Impact in July with the Institute, our first programmatic effort that ended up being a great success.

Why is Noble Impact a sponsor for Startup Weekend?

We decided to sponsor Startup Weekend for a couple reasons. First, we think it provides a great opportunity for our students to participate in a real world event, and the experience is unmatched. Second, we’ve been working with Startup Weekend out of Seattle and are planning to launch the first ever high school version of Startup Weekend in the very near future. Therefore, I wanted our students to have a great understanding of what it was all about before they started to plan it for high school students.

In your opinion, why should people participate in Startup Weekend?

It’s an incredible educational experience. The knowledge and insight gained in a 54-hour period is the equivalent of a weekend MBA…not to mention the relationships formed. It’s no secret why Startup Weekend, and now Up Global are flourishing.

How will you/Noble Impact be participating in Startup Weekend?

I personally will be acting as a mentor for our students. We are either going to have one or two groups of students from our eStem class participate…still working out the details.

What do you hope that the students get out of their participation in Startup Weekend?

I hope they get out of it what I got out as a participant in the Little Rock Startup Weekend back in April. I originally went just to observe how they run it. My wish was to learn more about the process for possible use in our curriculum. I ended up pitching an idea and 54-hours later, we were announced as the winning team. I hope our students learn something new, and I know they will.

Is there anything else you want to make sure that people know about Noble Impact and/or Startup Weekend?

Startup weekend is changing the game in a lot of different cities around the world. As an entire organization, they’re first class, and their leadership is amazing. Even our local (Arkansas) leadership in Jordan Carlisle and Max Farrell is very inspiring. Here are two young guys trying to catalyze the community through an event that has the ability to create economic growth. They work very hard and deserve a lot of credit for making all this come together. Noble Impact is just happy to be a small piece of the puzzle.