Residential Programs

Penn Social Impact Lab

A one week program for UPenn’s emerging impact leaders.

Every year, Penn Impact Lab brings together 25 emerging leaders across undergraduate and graduate schools. Students explore their passion and purpose, connect with a community of changemakers, and learn the leadership skills necessary to create positive social change.

NPLD 585 is a 5-day, off-site, intensive service-learning course in social innovation.  Students will learn how innovation and entrepreneurship play a central role in public problem solving. We will explore how social entrepreneurs co-develop new ideas with key stakeholders, articulate problems and solutions, define intended impact, understand competition, and collaborate with other actors. At the end of the course, students will have mastered a set of conceptual tools and strategies that will allow them to be effective problem solvers in diverse settings throughout their careers. Bring your purpose, passions, and pet societal challenges to share.

Apply Now

Already started an application? Sign in here

Inspirational Setting

Learn, work, and play in a stimulating and peaceful environment.

Learn by Doing

Acquire the knowledge to turn a skill or passion into a concrete plan for social impact.

Digital Detox

Disconnect from technology and intentionally reconnect with your personal purpose.


Be asked the challenging questions from experienced leaders to support and encourage creative risk-taking.

Leadership Skills

Gain tools to strengthen your leadership, by applying our hands-on curriculum.

Powerful Community

Build meaningful connections with students and faculty across Penn.

Key Details

26 May–1 June, 2020
Acadia National Park, Maine
Program Fee
$500 (not including tuition)
Application Deadline
January 2020


PSIL students will study and live at Schoodic Institute, based within Acadia National Park in a bold physical and inspirational location at Schoodic Point.  The Institute supports science and education initiatives throughout the Park and the region and partners with the National Park Service to manage the Schoodic Education and Research Center campus.

Teaching Team


Day 1

Settle in at Schoodic Institute.

Day 2
Observation and Empathy

Learn the fundamentals of observation and empathy for social innovation.

Day 3
Collaboration and Brainstorming

Practice collaborative problem solving.

Day 4

Refine a practical social innovation design brief, and practice the art of storytelling.

Day 5
Life Lab and Community Service

Explore work and life views, and volunteer with an outdoor expert in Acadia National Park.

Day 6
Leadership Development

Develop personal goals and embrace failure.

Day 7

Return home.


Do I need a social venture or a project to apply?

No. We encourage any students with a creative mindset and the drive to make the world a better place to apply. Penn Impact Lab is as much about honing your leadership skills and developing a social impact skillset as it is dreaming about your venture. We welcome students to apply regardless of whether or not you currently have a venture.

What is included in the $500 program fee?

The fee covers all programming and training-related costs, including housing and on-site meals. Personal airfare and travel to/from airport outside program dates is not included, nor is travel insurance and travel fees.

Is this just for upperclassmen or graduate students? What schools?

We created this program to include all current students at Penn: undergraduate, graduate, full-time, and part-time. Penn Impact Lab is open to students in all 12 Penn schools.

‘Social impact’ is new to me; what are my chances of acceptance?

Our team looks for people with positive attitudes more than a particular type of resume. If you’re excited by this program and believe you could learn, grow, and support your peers, we invite you to apply. And if you’re seasoned in the social impact space, we also invite you to apply. This community of peers will be strongest when it is most diverse.

Who will be teaching at PSIL?

You’ll work with an amazing and diverse team of faculty on leadership skills, design thinking, business strategy, and research methods. Our staff is a blend of facilitators, practitioners, and researchers. You’ll be surrounded by seasoned and successful social entrepreneurs providing coaching and mentorship.

What happens after the program?

Participants return to a community of alumni at Penn supporting one another in their personal and professional goals.

What if I can’t make it the whole time?

We ask for full participation from selected students. Any person who is selected and commits to the program will be expected to be present for all of the program, from May 26-June 1, 2020.

Apply Now

Already started an application? Sign in here