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Entrepreneurship in Action: ELLC Students Join in Delaware River Cleanup

Members of living-learning community joined United By Blue to help clean Penn Treaty Park; got a lesson in how entrepreneurship can spur social change.

Associate Dean Ian Sladen, Assistant Teaching Professor and ELLC Directory Damian Salas, and ELLC Members.

May 7, 2014

by Zach Epstein

Students in the Close School’s Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community (ELLC) got a firsthand look at how entrepreneurship can spur both business and social good when they joined with Brian Linton, the founder of United By Blue, to help clean Penn Treaty Park along the banks of the Delaware River.

The ELLC team, along with other volunteers and United By Blue staffers, removed nearly 500 pounds of trash from the park along the Delaware, Philadelphia’s primary source of drinking water.

A guest lecturer and mentor in the Close School, Linton and his company are a prime example of how an education in entrepreneurship can foster philanthropic ventures, even when created in partnership with for-profit goals.

“Business and conservation are often two disparate things,” says Linton. “When I started United By Blue, we had to find a way to combine them together in a cohesive and effective way.”

Student Collin Cavote cleans along the Delaware River.

United By Blue is an apparel brand and coffeehouse headquartered in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood. For every product they sell, the company removes one pound of trash from an ocean or waterway.

“I started a company that internalized the same operations of a non-profit, but in for-profit structure, so that we could run a financially successful business that funded our own ongoing efforts around organizing and hosting beach and waterway cleanups,” he says.

Linton (below, left) is a mentor in Professor Damian Salas’ social entrepreneurship class, and co-teacher of Launch It!, guiding students in the process of creating ventures of their own.

“Spending time with Drexel Students during the Launch It! class has been truly rewarding,” Linton says. “I started my first business eight years ago, around the same age as the students I am now teaching, so I understand their mindsets and the challenges they face."

Associate Dean Ian Sladen with student Allison Murphy.