Becker College Student Launches First-Ever Social Enterprise

Published on Thursday, October 5th, 2017

One Chair 4 One Child Aims to Transform Educational Experience in Rural Jamaica and Create New Jobs

As a child growing up in rural Jamaica, Racquel Knight remembers walking three miles to school in the merciless hot, tropical sun. When she entered her classroom, it was filled with broken chairs, making participation in classroom lessons extremely challenging. Knight and her classmates were often required to stand during class lessons.

Knight says the lack of furniture in rural Jamaica is a century old problem that is impeding the educational experience for schoolchildren. In fact, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 20 percent of people living in Jamaica are illiterate.

As a senior Global Citizenship major at Becker College, Knight is solving this challenge with the official launch of her social enterprise, One Chair 4 One Child. Knight will unveil her organization’s future plans and new website on October 5 at 5pm, at Becker College’s Center for Global Citizenship, 44 West Street, Worcester.  This event is being hosted by The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College.

“My hope is to transform the classroom experience in rural Jamaica,” said Knight. “When I was a student, I would spend thirty minutes or more trying to find a chair. If a chair had three legs, then I would improvise; leaning against the wall and barely sitting on the chair to try to avoid falling.”

After Knight was transferred to another school in another town in Jamaica that had classroom furniture, her learning experience greatly improved; she never forget this experience.

Years later, when she moved to Worcester, Knight began exploring solutions for her experience in her Social Problems class at Becker College. Her creative thinking morphed into a social enterprise, One Chair 4 One Child. A social enterprise offers a solution to a social problem by providing a creative, financial and sustainable outcome.

“I have been getting assistance for my social enterprise from staff and faculty at Becker College and gaining a lot of managerial experience through my internship at the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College,” Knight said.

“Racquel is a stellar student who has truly assumed a leadership role in pursuing her passion to improve the educational climate in rural Jamaica,” said Dr. Debra Pallatto-Fontaine, Executive Director for Global Initiatives and the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College.

Knight’s vision is to ensure that every Jamaican child attending school in rural areas has not just a chair, but a comfortable learning environment in which they can excel in the classroom and pursue their passions.

Her social enterprise is also generating employment opportunities.

“We are giving upper-class students at the Petersfield High School in Jamaica a chance to learn how to design sturdy metal chairs and make them accessible to kids who are in dire need of them,” Knight explained. “We are also ensuring that local hardware stores will benefit from this effort by purchasing supplies at these stores.”

Becker College launched its Global Citizenship major in 2012. The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College is a part of the Global Citizenship experience. Becker unveiled the Yunus Social Business Centre in 2016, which was officially sanctioned by Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Laureate who pioneered the concept of social business. The Yunus Social Business Centre @ Becker College is the only one of its kind at a U.S. institution of higher education.

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