Ballard Center Announces Name Change

New name reflects focus on solving social problems

PROVO, Utah – Jan 31, 2020 – As the calendar recently turned a page to a new year and decade, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance at the BYU Marriott School of Business has something new for 2020. The BYU Board of Trustees approved that the center be renamed the Melvin J. Ballard Center for Social Impact.

“I’m thrilled to announce the Ballard Center’s name change,” says BYU Marriott dean Brigitte C. Madrian. “The center’s new name reflects the impact that our students, faculty, and staff have in bringing about positive social change in communities around the world.”

When the Ballard Center opened its doors in 2003, its mission was clear: give students the necessary tools to help individuals and families everywhere become self-reliant. The center was named after Melvin J. Ballard—grandfather of Elder M. Russell Ballard and architect of the modern welfare program for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the center’s name has changed, its desire to help individuals and families become self-reliant has not.

“Self-reliance is part of the greater picture that is social impact,” says Todd Manwaring, founding director of the Ballard Center. “We want to help people understand that there are many social problems that can inhibit self-reliance. The center will continue to help students create positive change that will ultimately help families become more self-sustaining, just as we have throughout our entire seventeen years.”

Since its early days, the center has been teaching students the concepts and tools of social impact. The name change helps academics and students better understand the center’s focus, which is to help students learn how to solve social problems.

An example of one of the social problems that the Ballard Center has been working on is that of human trafficking. In 2017, students used principles of social impact they learned from the Ballard Center to help the organization Truckers Against Trafficking expand into both Mexico and Canada and teach truck drivers how to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.

The Ballard Center has also helped students create environmentally conscious companies and products. One such company, EcoScraps, developed a new soil product based entirely from of food waste. The company now sells the product around the country, including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, and Target. EcoScraps estimates that it will repurpose more than seventy-five million tons of food waste from landfills in 2020 alone. Other environmentally focused companies that have worked with the Ballard Center include Neptune Plastics, which manufactures bio-based plastic that fully dissolves in water, and Recyclops, a recycling company whose founder earned a place on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Students have also worked with the Ballard Center to take on social problems such as refugee resettlement, public-health crises, prison reform, child abuse, and high-school dropout rates. These are just a few examples of the social problems that the Ballard Center seeks to alleviate. During the 2017­–2018 academic year, students working with the Ballard Center spent more than fifty-seven thousand hours working to solve social problems.

Reflecting on the effect that the Ballard Center has had in the lives of so many, Madrian anticipates continued growth and lasting impact from those who walk through the center’s doors. “I am excited to see how the Ballard Center will continue to invent and discover unique and thoughtful ways to ‘do good, better,’” says Madrian, quoting the center’s Do Good, Better mantra.

The Ballard Center for Social Impact assists nearly three thousand BYU students by providing classes, internships, competitions, and grants to help create positive social change throughout the world. The center also hosts events such as the Peery Film Festival and TEDxBYU. The Ballard Center is part of the BYU Marriott School of Business, which prepares men and women of faith, character, and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States, and has been designated as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus.

To learn more about the Ballard Center for Social Impact, please visit

Ballard Center for Social Impact
Ballard Center Employees
Employees of the Ballard Center for Social Impact.

Media Contact: Alicia Gettys (801) 422-5283
Writer: Ballard Center