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02122015-younscholars_article.jpgTree farms that bring green space, jobs, and new hope to American towns in the grip of post-industrial decay; investments that help small businesses thrive in the face of withering conditions: these are just a few of several forward-thinking projects being implemented by this year’s cohort of Youn Impact Scholars.

The program, in its second year, honors students and alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to becoming leaders in social impact in any chosen field, says Elizabeth Coston, Kellogg’s manager of social innovation. “We’re agnostic about whether they’re going into nonprofit, corporate, government, education — they are committed to somehow having a positive impact on society or within their organization,” Coston says.

This year’s five student and five alumni honorees will meet with last year’s class of nine scholars later this year, at the first biennial Youn Impact Scholars meeting. Having the opportunity to connect with a growing network of like-minded peers is the most coveted aspect of winning, say student and alumni winners alike.

Nicole Chavas ’15, who developed the tree farms idea along with fellow scholar Laura Kimes ’15 and is launching two pilot farms in May, pointed to “the chance to maintain that link with Kellogg, and with others who share the same passion and ideals I do from a business perspective,” as the greatest reward.

Read more about the Youn Scholars program and this year’s recipients