News & Stories

Social Impact House Welcomes Emerging Entrepreneurs

Posted Dec 20 2015

SIPA was pleased to partner with the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania for the first Columbia-Penn Social Impact House, held in August 2015 in Connecticut. We are proud to collaborate with the top social impact educators and facilitators to provide opportunities our SIPA network of entrepreneurs and innovators.

Until this year, the Center for Social Impact Strategy’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 10 from SIPA and 11 hailing from Penn. This all started in February 2014, when Lindsay Litowitz MIA ’14 was encouraged to apply to the Social Impact House by Professor Sara Minard, an SIH mentor and former SIPA faculty member. Even as the lone Columbia participant amongst Penn fellows, Lindsay decided to apply anyway.

Lindsay had just launched Terranga with another SIPA student, Tammy Lewin MPA-MDP ’15. Terranga, one of the winners of the initial SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge, is a social enterprise that 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 went to the Penn Social Impact House in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 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, Sarah Holloway—a SIPA faculty member who directs the Management specialization—to discuss her experience. Sarah was intrigued; the two reached out to the University of Pennsylvania with an idea for co-sponsorship, and a partnership was born.

For more than a year, Sarah and Lindsay have been working together to identify potential SIPA Fellows from a pool ranging from first-year SIPA students all the way to alumni who launched ventures upon graduation.

Those fellows include people like Ella Fainaru MPA ’16, whose venture, Raising the Bar, heightens discourse by bringing the classroom into communal spaces (think of your most interesting professor holding his seminar at your favorite microbrewery); and Karina Nagin MPA ’11, 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 also engaged David K. Park, Columbia University’s dean of strategic initiatives, to this summer’s Social Impact House, to serve as a catalyst and mentor to fellows from both universities.

SIPA is thrilled to have the opportunity to cross-pollinate the strengths and energies of the changemakers at both Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, and are excited about the future of this partnership to continue to empower the next generation of social entrepreneurs and their ventures.