Category Archives: Causes

Black History at Midd Tumblr


This February was marked by bitter cold, constant snow, and the beginning of semester here at Midd.  For the past 28 days, however, citizens across the country have been celebrating Black History Month.  This may come as a shock to many due to the dirth in lectures and events focusing on black history at the college (a quick google search featured only events from 2004), but this lack of activity did not go unnoticed by a group of students including Diku Rogers and Maya Doig Acuna ’16who put together a powerful tumblr featuring reflections from students on being black at Midd.  “We were just talking one day at Crossroads about there being pretty much no programming at Midd for Black History Month, and decided to put the tumblr together” Doig-Acuna told middbeat.  A spur of the moment project, the two sent an email to broad group of students who identify as black, and posed a straightforward yet complex question: “What does it mean be black at Midd?”

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TODAY: FTK Dance Marathon 4.0


Are you tryna get your boogie on this Friday night? Look no further–we’ve got the event for you! For the Kids (FTK), a student-run organization on campus that works to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Burlington, will be hosting its annual Dance Marathon in an effort to reach the fundraising goals they set this year! This event is part of a movement in which over 150 schools across the country participate, and it won’t be one you want to miss. Aside from enjoying a night of sweet moves from you, your friends, your professors, and other community members, those in attendance can look forward to special appearances by Riddim, acapella, student bands, free food (if you weren’t convinced before, re-read that last one. Do it for the kids, do it for the food), raffles, and stories from children whose lives have been positively impacted by events like this. Come celebrate the end of the third week of second semester (and February almost being over!!!!) by dancing the night away for a good cause.

Date: Friday, February 27th
Time: 5pm-3am
Place: Wilson Hall, McCullough Student Center
Cost: $10 donation to register


Tom The Record Man is Back

lot of records in sleeves

We’re “hip” at Midd, right? If there’s any “go-to” way to confirm your hip status, we suppose it’s a record collection. Truly, we hope you listen to the records as well as hang them on your walls, but either is great. Anyways, “Tom the Record Man,” a lovely man named Tom who sells a lot of records for pretty cheap prices, will be returning to the Midd bookstore to amp your musical repertoire today. Check it out.

Date: Tuesday, February 24
Time: 9am – 5pm
Place: Bookstore beneath Proctor

TUESDAY: 10 Truths for Your Self-Acceptance Journey


Rosie Molinary, author of “A Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance


This Tuesday at 7pm, an incredible speaker, Rosie Molinary, is coming to Midd to deliver a talk entitled “10 Truths for your Self-Acceptance Journey” in McCullough Social Space. Having demonstrated a significant interest in and concern with body image on Midd’s campus, middbeat is particularly excited about this event, being hosted by Sayre Weir ’15a lovely senior who co-led middbeat’s body image story telling event last spring. Sayre writes in to describe the event: 

Body image is often a taboo subject among friends at Middlebury. Look around you–we are surrounded by beautiful people on this campus. Business Insider ranked Middlebury as 13th on its list of “25 Colleges Where Students are both Hot and Smart” (March 2013). In a high-pressure academic and social environment such as Middlebury, our bodies can easily become just another box to check on our laundry list of areas in which to excel.

Amidst this high-pressure environment, it is important to remember that we are more than our bodies. Our bodies serve as vessels for our personalities and authentic selves, and we must properly nourish ourselves both physically and emotionally.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Come attend Rosie Molinary’s lecture entitled “10 Truths for Your Self-Acceptance Journey” on Tuesday February 24th at 7pm in Wilson Hall/McCullough Social Space to learn more about the path the self-empowerment and self-acceptance. Here’s the full description of her talk:

“Everyday, we perpetuate non-inclusive body and beauty ideals that limit our possibilities. It is time for people of all colors, sizes, and ethnicities to confront the boxes they are placed in by themselves and others and create worldviews that are expansive and empowering. This powerful, interactive workshop reveals ten powerful lessons about journeying to self-acceptance and the tools that can help make anyone more self-accepting. Participants will be inspired to live with purpose, challenged to forego self-defeating tendencies, and encouraged to champion all women.  Frank discussion about idealized beauty standards and our buy-in will help individuals build their media literacy and escape the stranglehold of idealized beauty so that we can concentrate our energies on using our skills and experiences to improve our world.”

Rosie’s talk will be followed by a book signing and the opportunity to purchase Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance and/or Hijas Americanas: Beauty Body Image, and Growing up Latina. For more information on Rosie, check out her website:

Date: Tuesday, February 24
Time: 7-8:30pm
Place: McCullough Social Space
Cost: Nada! We hope to see everyone there, guys, girls, all are welcome!

MCAB Presents: Alpenglow For The Kids (featuring D8)

alpenglow posterMiddlebury’s favorite Indie folk rock band is back to do a benefit concert for the kids at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital! Come support For The Kids in kicking off Dance Marathon week!

When: Sunday, Feb. 22, 9pm
Where: Wilson Hall (McCullough Social Space)
Cost: free admission

Apathy and Action: Exploring Youth-Driven Movements


Today marks the start of the second annual student global affairs conference. The topic this year? Youth-driven movements. The conference runs from today through tomorrow, and there are a ton of really fascinating lectures, some of which will be given by Middlebury powerhouse professors (Wyatt, Owens, McKibben). Check out the event description as well as the schedule of events below!

From the RAJ website:

2014 marked a watershed year for youth activism. Many of the social movements that made headlines – from Occupy Central in Hong Kong to the People’s Climate March in New York – were driven by the passion and energy of young people. The level of resolve and engagement displayed by the youth in such movements not only captivated the world, but also created pressure for change.

Youth-driven social movements in East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and North America, as well as global movements such as the climate movement are greatly varied in their methods and level of success. This conference, however, aims to explore the shared characteristics of these movements–with particular focus on how factors, such as apathy, radicalism, moderation and class, could enhance or weaken the strength of youth-led action. This conference will put the latest youth-led movements in perspective and look to the future, aiming to determine the key factors that will be responsible for either bringing or deterring social change. In particular, it aims to explore the role that youth can and have played in activism, and what the potential role of students around the world will be going forward.

Read more about the mission of the conference at go/youth.

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StartupGrid Goes Live! The Student-Run J-term Internship You Definitely Want to Learn About Launches This Thursday

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Whether or not you heard about the ambitious yet, until now, fairly ambiguous student-lead on-campus J-term internship “StartupGrid,” it’s definitely time you get in the know. At Middlebury, we’re creative thinkers. We’re do-ers. We thrive off creation, innovation, and problem solving. And if any J-term project embodies this entrepreneurial drive, it’s StartupGrid. For four weeks this January, 25 students of diverse academic backgrounds banded together under the leadership of Jake Vacovec ’15 and Ty Danco ’77 (a tremendously successful venture capitalist) to create, an an early stage online resource providing advice, expertise, and instruction from top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. StartupGrid self-defines with the following statement:

“Starting a company is hard – finding the right advice shouldn’t be. At StartupGrid, we connect you with specialized knowledge from seasoned entrepreneurs, so you can start bridging the gap between struggles and success today.”

As a member of the StartupGrid media team, I can confidently assert this project is pretty damn cool. And successful. After conducting 30+ interviews, collecting 50 hours of filmed interviews with top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries, and curating over 1800 multimedia articles, the StartupGrid team has created a one-stop resource for entrepreneurs looking for the right answers, accessible here.

To celebrate our team’s success, we’re hosting the StartupGrid Demo Day, aka the site’s official unveiling, this Thursday, February 18 at 5pm in Axinn 232. We strongly encourage any and all students, faculty and staff to come check out the awesome startup 25 Middlebury students built on-campus this J-Term, featuring a live StartupGrid interview with Pier LaFarge, Midd alum & CEO of SparkFund.

And, to get the celebration really going, the StartupGrid team invites everyone to join us for a reception with free food and drinks, including top-notch alcoholic beverages (of the 21+ variety for valid ID holders) in the Axinn Abernathy Room. The future of StartupGrid is bright – so please come see what we’ve done, how we did it, and our plans for the future. This night of innovative experiential learning, and the best craft beer Vermont has to offer (Heady Topper, y’all), is not to miss.

The whole idea of an online resource providing seemingly infinite startup entrepreneurial advice is intriguing to say the least, but the whole “internship” process is a little vague. So, to give you a sense of the StartupGrid leadership, team work, short and long term goals, and day-to-day work these 25 students engaged in, middbeat’s conducted an informational interview with StartupGrid co-founder and project manager, Jake Vacovec ’15So, without further ado, read up, and show up this Thursday at 5pm in Axinn 232.

MB: So, what is Startup Grid anyways?

JVSimply put, is an easily accessible website where you can find startup advice. It’s a collection of blog posts, videos, and interviews from thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. Our main goal is to curate the best startup media into a navigable website, a project which, until now, has not been done.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, making startup advice more relevant than ever. But though demand for startup advice is fervent, such advice is largely disorganized and inconsistent in quality. So, rather than leave it to a time-starved entrepreneur to navigate the noisy world of startup advice, the StartupGrid team has taken on this challenge with great success. What sets StartupGrid apart is our library of exclusive interviews with 40+ entrepreneurship thought leaders providing the inside scoop on hot companies like Ello, IrisVR and Bridj.

MB: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved, and how did the idea for this project develop?

JVMy name is Jake Vacovec, I am a senior economics major and I am one of the Co-Founders of StartupGrid. When I graduate in May I will be working in Manhattan at a FinTech startup called Behalf. After working at Behalf last summer as an intern, I got a taste of the startup world and was immediately hooked. My ambition to start my own venture carried me through a network of Midd Alumni. Eventually, I was introduced to a member of the Board of Trustees, Rick Scanlon, who started a VC/PE firm, Marker LLC. Rick then introduced me to one of his employees, a recent Midd grad, Brian Foster. Brian worked with Ty Danco, a tremendously successful venture capitalist and also a Middlebury alumnus, while enrolled at Middlebury and for a brief stint before joining Marker LLC. Brian offered to introduce me to Ty, and after working with Ty for a few weeks we had outlined what would soon become StartupGrid. All we needed was a team to bring it together.

MB: At the beginning of J-term, what were your goals for StartupGrid? How did you go about preparing to accomplish those goals?

JVI spend the entire first semester working on developing all the operations and processes for StartupGrid in order to accomplish our high-level goal – a useful website. After recruiting 25 talented, diverse students, I was hopeful that the semester would be a huge success, but also feared it could crash and burn given the limited time we had. We were essentially a case study for future projects of this caliber and I knew we would be under a microscope. It was a lot of pressure, so my main goal was to clearly define role expectations and have a strong process in place. Ultimately, I wanted to end J-Term with a tangible product that everyone involved was proud of and the larger community of entrepreneurs and “want-repreneurs” could benefit from.

MB: Who composes the StartupGrid “team?” How did you assemble this team and what demographics do they represent?

JV: The StartupGrid team is comprised of 25 exceptionally talented Middlebury students, all of which are either juniors, seniors, or were super senior Febs. The best part about the team was that it was truly an interdisciplinary group of students. We had majors ranging from English to Computer Science. The founding team was divided into five sub-teams: (1) Product & Project Management (2) Programming & Design (3) VC Research (4) Film (5) Social Media Strategy. Each member was put onto a team, but the group quickly learned that at a startup, it’s all hands on deck. Everyone did their jobs but also developed skills beyond their expected function.

MB: Over J-term, what did your day-to-day, week-to-week schedule look like? How did the StartupGrid team go about building the site and accomplishing their goals?


JV: Every week the team met 5 times for 2-hour period. Each meeting had a different purpose, some were to review the weekly goals, others to relax and enjoy a beer. My favorite meetings were our Wednesday night meetings – the Heady Topper brainstorm sessions. Before every Wednesday meeting I would drive up to Williston to pick up a case or two of Heady Toppers and buy a couple pizzas from Nino’s on my way back. These meetings were where we fostered our cohesive, collaborative team culture. We were able to accomplish our goals, and had a good deal of fun doing so.

The programming and design team assigned themselves weekly sprints and standups, for which we would define the goals for the week and each member would ‘standup’ and explain what they had accomplished the previous week. Every Friday Ty would come to campus and meet with each team over the course of 5-6 hours, which was an incredibly educative experience. We also benefited from advisement from Adam Bouchard, CEO of Agilion Apps. On two occasions, Adam invited us to his cottage off Route 7 and helped us define our product market fit using a lean vision exercise.

MB: Tell us a bit more about Ty Danco. What’s he all about?

JV: First off, this project would not have been possible without Ty. I was beyond fortunate to meet Ty and spend the past 6 months working with him and learning from his entrepreneurial expertise. Ty is one of the most passionate people I know, and is constantly overflowing with ideas; he epitomizes entrepreneurship. Ty has had a full career and I’m probably doing an injustice to him by only highlighting a few tidbits. After graduating from Middlebury in 1977, Ty became a two time Olympic athlete (casual, right?) before beginning his career in finance. Later, he founded a startup that was acquired by CalPERS. He is an angel investor and also works as a Director for the accelerator, Techstars.

MB: So, how’d it turn out? Did you accomplish what you aimed to? 

JV: To be blunt, the StartupGrid project turned out fantastically. It’s not easy to pull together 25 students and give them 25 days to build a legitimate startup. In truth, we have collected more data than we know what to do with, which is exciting because the room for growth is exponential.

To date we have curated over 1800 multimedia articles, conducted interviews with 40 experts and amassed over 50 hours of film. All of this content has been fully integrated into The real accomplishment was the duality of this educational experience. We studied theoretical learning through research, curating, and interviewing as well as experiential learning through the creation of a legitimate startup. This experience was like none other at Middlebury and gave us a taste of what it would be like to work for a startup.

MB: What do you hope for the future of StartupGrid?


JV: StartupGrid needs to be polished up a bit, but it’s future really depends on how we decide to pivot from here. We could make it an open source resource for the entrepreneurship community to add to, similar to a company like Wikipedia. Or we could make it a University package, where other schools sign on and build off of our platform – providing students with a theoretical and experiential learning opportunity. For the next few months its activity will flat line but once we decide our growth strategy it will pick back up. Some of the members, including myself, will be working on this for the rest of the year and even years to come. I see it as a great side project where I will eventually transfer into an advisement position.

MB: Do you think StartupGrid will ultimately be profitable, and if so how?


JVOur main focus is to create a website that benefits our audience before we begin to consider how to make a buck off it. I guess it also depends on what you consider profitable, any website can be profitable through ads but another way to think about ‘profit’ would be to amass a badass email list of users, which in some minds can be considered even more profitable. For me it is less about the money and more about the future benefits an experience like this offers. For now we are not focused on profitability, but the avenues to get there are certainly available.

MB: What skills have you gained through this process? What skills have the group members at large gained? Continue reading

Language in Motion Info Sessions


Interested in using your language skills to make a meaningful difference in our community? For any upper level language student, this sounds like a really awesome initiative that allows Middlebury students to engage with members of Addison county. Julia Angeles ’15 writes in:

Interested in helping middle and high school students expand their knowledge of world language and culture? Language in Motion might be for you! LiM is a Community Engagement program that connects international students, study abroad returnees, and upper level language students with classrooms in Addison County.

Our first info session (at the Community Engagement office) is this Wednesday, 2/18, from 7:30-8:30pm, and we have another one next Monday, 2/23, from 4:30-5:30 PM. There will be snacks! If you are interested but can’t make it (or have questions), feel free to shoot an email to Kristen Mullins ([email protected]). Otherwise, you can apply by Wednesday, 2/25, to become a presenter.

For more info, check out go/lim!

Date: Today– February 18th
Time: 7:30-8:30pm
Place: Community Engagement Office (118 South Main Street, behind the library)
Cost: Free!

“A Path Appears” Tonight in Dana

Sarah Ray writes in:

From the best-selling authors and creators of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl DuWunn, comes a compelling new book and documentary film, A Path Appears. In the book A Path Appears, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn provide a unique and essential narrative about making a difference in the world on issues of women’s oppression — and a roadmap to becoming a conscientious global citizen. The PBS documentary series premiering in January 2015 examines the struggles women face in the United States and abroad, and the inspiring individuals working with them to create effective solutions.

When: Tonight, 7:30 PM
Where: Dana Auditorium
Cost: Free