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BYU social entrepreneurship program named for Peery Family

Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management announced the naming of the Peery Social Entrepreneurship Program, the flagship program of the Melvin J. Ballard Center for Economic Self Reliance, on Friday, Feb. 11. The naming honors Richard and Mimi Peery and their family’s passion for social entrepreneurship.  

“It’s remarkable what the Peery Program is doing to help educate our students,” said Gary Cornia, Marriott School dean. “When I meet with students who have been involved with this program there is a glow about them. They talk about their experiences as being transformational.”

In recent years, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a new perspective on solving a growing number of complex problems plaguing society, from extreme poverty to inadequate education. The Peery Program supports this revolutionary movement through research, experiential learning and curriculum-based activity.

The program embraces these goals primarily through student associations and activities like Students for Social Entrepreneurship, a program where student teams work with recognized entrepreneurs on projects, and the Social Venture Competition, an event where students develop business plans to meet social needs. The program also recognizes students engaged in social entrepreneurship causes as Peery Social Entrepreneurship Fellows.

The Peery Program is a perfect fit for students who want to implement social change in the world, according to Todd Manwaring, director of the Ballard Center.

“BYU students are natural philanthropists — they’re always looking for opportunities to serve,” Manwaring said. “We’re teaching students to use their innovation and entrepreneurial skills to create lasting change and engage in lifelong service.”

Richard Peery embraced the spirit of social entrepreneurship during his career as a pioneer of commercial real estate development in Silicon Valley, Calif. He founded the Peery Foundation in 1978 to promote self reliance through social entrepreneurship. The family foundation has been a supporter of Ballard Center initiatives for several years and looks to BYU students to help carry on its legacy.

“The nascent field of social entrepreneurship can only fulfill its promise to change the world with the help of a new generation of problem solvers,” Peery said. “BYU students and faculty possess the kind of values, human experience and entrepreneurial spirit to make significant contributions to this field and to lead the way among universities engaging in this space.”

To celebrate the naming, the Ballard Center held four separate events including a documentary premiere and producer discussion, the Peery Social Innovator of the Year award banquet, a TEDxBYU Social Entrepreneurship Conference and the Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship Case Competition. These events encouraged BYU students, alumni and faculty to get involved with the Peery Program along with other Ballard Center events that promote social innovation.

“Our family has supported the work of social entrepreneurs around the world whose solutions are having a positive impact on millions of poor families,” Peery said. “We invite others to invest with us, as this program will be a catalyst for social innovation across campus and around the world.”

The Marriott School has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at

Writer: Courtney Rieder Nielsen


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