Scheinfeld Center’s first ‘Passion Project Challenge’ program begins

Becky Bean, the Student Program Advisor at The WELL, addresses attendees of a Passion Project Power Hour on Sept. 23 at the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Santa Barbara, Calif. Bean discussed the importance of self-care, and informed attendees of resources available at The WELL.

Jared Daniels, Staff Writer

City College’s Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is facilitating its first-ever Passion Project Challenge this semester, a program geared toward helping individuals explore their passions in a productive and meaningful way.

The Passion Project Challenge, whose participants meet both in-person and online every Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. for weekly “Power Hours” featuring guest speakers and networking opportunities, focuses on teaching and honing entrepreneurial skills by turning participants’ passions into achievable, actionable projects.

Ryan Davis, who learned about the Passion Project Challenge in an entrepreneurship course at City College, is utilizing the program to help guide the pilot project of his environmental nonprofit, America’s Green Corps. This nonprofit will replace Platform Holly, an inactive offshore oil platform off the coast of Goleta, with a lighthouse powered by solar, wind, and tidal energy.

The project would “create a model of how we could generate energy from a recycled oiled platform,” Davis said.

In addition to being self-generating, the project would also deliver excess energy beyond the needs of the lighthouse into Santa Barbara’s power grid.

Additionally, the project would prevent the currently-scheduled removal of the platform, which would avert the elimination of  “a significant amount of marine biology” located on the platform’s substructure which serves to “filter and oxygenate the water,” according to Davis.

In terms of how participating in the passion project is impacting his ability to move the project forward, Davis said the program “is really helping me lean into some of the key things that I need to do to get to the next level with it,” and also noted the benefits of the networking environment provided by the program.

“I’m not only learning a little bit more about how to be an entrepreneur and build a team, but I’m also meeting other people who are interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial route with their life and their career,” he said. “So it’s a chance for us to build our team and work towards our next goal.”

According to Julie Samson, director of the Scheinfeld Center, passion projects have a variety of benefits outside of entrepreneurship. Such as being able to engage in career exploration in a low-risk environment, more meaningfully cultivate hobbies, and discover “what resonates with us and where we feel drawn to create impact in the world, whether that’s a large impact or a very small impact.”

Samson also believes that passion projects help us become “good stewards of our passions,” which she describes as meaningfully approaching and cultivating our passions in a sustainable and enjoyable way, while still leading to results and facilitating personal and/or professional growth.

“We can drown out our passion  — we can get super action-oriented and get burned out … It’s a roller coaster,” she said. “[Being a good steward of our passions] means being able to go through that and realize that there’s going to be down times, and there’s going to be times where you go ‘Wait, where is my passion?’”

In addition to managing the ups and downs that come with pursuing our passions, Samson also believes being a good steward means playing an active role in advancing them by setting achievable goals and implementing action plans to more fully immerse ourselves in what we’re passionate about.

“It’s being realistic about expectations around our passions, and being active in the creative process pursuing them — being an active participant, and going on a journey with it while having an idea of a destination you’d like to head to,” Samson continued.

The program came about when Samson and one of the Scheinfeld Center’s program interns, Hanna Muskantor came together to think of a concept that would “build a community where like-minded people could connect and inspire each other to start diverse projects,” according to Muskanter.

While researching during this process, Muskantor learned about the concept of passion projects, and found that they “aligned very well with the Scheinfeld Center’s mission of advancing entrepreneurial development at SBCC.”

“The program is not only a fun and safe space to connect and build a network with other participants but also a great opportunity to learn business skills and valuable tools related to innovation and entrepreneurship,” Muskantor said.