Supporting Social Entrepreneurs at Penn and Columbia

September 14, 2015
Programs & Research


At the Center for Social Impact Strategy, we know that bringing in new perspectives can only enhance a community. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a partnership with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). We are proud to extend our programming to their network of entrepreneurs and innovators, and to collaborate on marshaling resources for our community of changemakers.

Until this year, the Center’s annual Social Impact House fellowship has focused exclusively on gathering the top emerging social entrepreneurs at Penn for community-building and collaborative learning.

In August, we held our very first Social Impact House inclusive of fellows from both universities, with 11 coming from Penn and 10 from SIPA. To date, we have held six total social impact houses, three Penn Social Impact Houses, two houses for leaders in the arts, and one house for global social entrepreneurs in our coursera community.

This all started in February 2014, when then-SIPA student Lindsay Litowitz caught wind of our upcoming Social Impact House from a former SIH mentor and SIPA Professor, Sara Minard. Even as the lone Columbia participant, she decided to apply anyway.

Lindsay had just launched Terranga with another SIPA student, Tammy Lewin. Terranga is a Columbia University funded social enterprise which aims to make travel more authentic and impactful by helping travelers get off the beaten path, join locals for unique cultural experiences, and express gratitude by supporting their dreams.

On the strength of her application, the Center decided to make an exception.

Since then, Lindsay has joined the community in full force. She came to Penn Social Impact House in Great Barrington, MA, the day after graduating from SIPA. She spent a week among the fellows and mentors, learning from them and offering up her guidance wherever possible. And she knew she had found something special.

When the fellowship finished, Lindsay returned to her adviser, SIPA faculty member Sarah Holloway, to tell her about her experience. Sarah was intrigued; the two women reached out to us with an idea for co-sponsorship; and a partnership was born.

For over a year now, Sarah and Lindsay have been working together to identify potential SIPA Fellows, which included first year SIPA students all the way to alumni who launched ventures upon graduation.

Those fellows include people like Ella Fairanu, whose venture, Raising the Bar, heightens discourse by bringing the classroom into communal spaces (think: your most interesting professor holding his seminar at your favorite microbrewery); and Karina Nagin, the executive director of Mission: Restore, which delivers cost-effective surgical training to rural or under-resourced doctors in 20 countries around the world.

Sarah and Lindsay even brought Dr. David K. Park, Columbia’s Dean of Strategic Initiatives, to this summer’s Social Impact House, to serve as a catalyst and mentor to fellows from both universities.

We at the Center for Social Impact Strategy are thrilled to have the opportunity to cross-pollinate the strengths and energies of the changemakers at our two universities, and are excited about the future of this partnership