TOMODACHI-Microsoft iLEAP Social Innovation and Leadership (SIL)

confidence, clarity, community

The TOMODACHI-Microsoft iLEAP Social Innovation and Leadership program is designed to cultivate a new generation of Japanese social entrepreneurs and community leaders (ages 18-25) who are prepared to make a positive difference in Japan, the United States, and around the world. Program participants are selected from a highly competitive, nationwide pool of applicants,to participate in an experiential leadership training in Seattle, Washington. At the core of the program, Scholars work on a Team Project with prominent businesses and receive business mentoring from recognized Japanese American leaders in the Seattle community. Scholars also take classes in leadership and entrepreneurship, work with Microsoft advisers to grow their ideas, and conduct site visits to social businesses and organizations. The program is run during spring pand summer also involves alumni activities back in Japan.

We believe that the best way to transform a country and culture is to invest in the leadership development and entrepreneurial thinking of its youth. The program is an investment in people and the relationships that form the social infrastructure for future innovation. Specific to the TOMODACHI-Microsoft iLEAP Social Innovation and Leadership program, we focus on participants who have overcome significant challenges in their lives and have demonstrated a strong desire to transform these difficulties into a positive future. Here are some video links of some Scholars speaking about the events of 3/11/2011:

Tomohiro Oyama, Miyagi

Kurumi Suzuki, Fukushima

Yuki Amano, Sendai

Ryo Kobiyama, Fukushima

This program provides a professional and experiential training for Scholars to learn more about their potential as leaders, how to develop and advance project plans in an entrepreneurial manner, and how to think and act in a global arena. Through our monitoring and evaluation activities, we have seen how graduates of the program are taking their experience into their new jobs and using it as a leverage point for new opportunities for themselves. The following quotes from some of the Scholars speak to how this program empowers Japan’s next generation of thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs.

I think this program changed my life. This reminded me my dream and hope for my own future.

iLEAP program gave me BIG chance to transform of myself. Thanks for iLEAP, I could have wonderful community where I have deeply trust and acceptance.

What I really realized after coming back to Japan is it’s all about how I am, not where I am or what I do. How I am is the key to change the society and I deeply understand what I learned at iLEAP.

I now understand my leadership style and will go back to my community (in Tohoku) and be a more influential and compassionate leader for others.

The words from the program that stick in my mind is, “Everyone is a leader in any way, since you lead your own life,” and now I’m sure that I have more confidence in myself. I believe this is partly because I was able to get rid of some assumptions about a leader and future like “leaders should be like that,” or “I have to make my career vision clearer now.” This wouldn’t have happened without having honest dialogue with many people especially a certain person I admired and me myself, so I really appreciate opportunity and support I got in the program.