Social Innovation Fellows

The Social Innovation Fellows (SIF) program immerses students in the role of entrepreneurship — and intrapreneurship — in driving positive social and environmental change through business. Students interact with social enterprises and nonprofit organizations to learn first-hand how individuals and companies can employ business principles to advance social, environmental and economic prosperity.

The program features a social entrepreneurship challenge, a crash course in lean startup methodology, an introduction to stakeholder theory, a blueprint project for social change, and an interactive consulting experience. Co-curricular programming that includes site visits, guest speakers and conferences complement the program and help students develop skills in the areas of sustainability, social enterprise and organizational structure, entrepreneurship, impact investing, impact measurement, and corporate social responsibility.

Students leave the program with a resume-building consulting engagement or venture experience, and a deep understanding of how to affect issues of social and environmental importance through organizations both large and small. This is a highly interactive, experiential and dynamic program.

David Kirsch is the faculty champion for this program.

Curriculum: One-Year Program

Counts toward management major.

BMGT 468V - Business Models and Methods to Affect Social Change

This course explores the role of business in addressing social and environmental issues. Fellows are introduced to the concepts of entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship as effective methods of social change, receive a crash course in lean startup methodology, and explore stakeholder theory and theory of change in context to social enterprise and other business models.

The second half of the course fellows work on developing a blueprint for social change - a longer, deeper dive into a social change issue that could be related to campus, the community, their country of origin, and more. Within this deeper dive, fellows explore topics relevant to social impact, such as authentic CSR, impact and measurement, and accountability. Guest speakers from organizations such as Soap Box, Marriott, Honest Tea, Impact Business Leaders, and the World Bank Innovation Lab provide an in-the-field perspective.

BMGT 468W - Social Innovation Practicum: Consulting and Venture Creation

Working in teams of four or five, students immerse themselves in a social issue of common concern through either consulting for a social enterprise, corporation or nonprofit organization, or by taking their blueprint project from the fall semester to the next phase of implementation.

Whether taking on a consulting project or expanding on the blueprint to create a new venture, the goal of the practicum is two-fold: 1) help an organization (either existing or self-created) develop a new service or program to address a specific pressing social need, and 2) provide fellows with a deep understanding of a particular social issue and how that issue can be addressed using their business knowledge.

Fellows are required to attend two co-curricular activities each semester as well as attend the annual Social Enterprise Symposium in March. Students are also highly encouraged to network with organizations in the social enterprise space through exclusive opportunities provided such as conference passes and travel.

What SIF Students Say About the Program

"I was able to be inspired by a passionate professor who through the course has helped show the "Power of One" - one person, one idea, one moment, one itch, one fleet moment of passionate work. SIF has shown me a different way of doing business. A way that delivers social impact. We have been exposed to young change-makers who are doing it currently. Delivering products that deliver a promise of change and benefit less fortunate members in our societies. I have learned that it can be very simple ... but that it also requires work, passion, commitment ... and did I say passion! Passion! Passion! Thank you, Center for Social Value Creation and Dr. Kirsch, for ensuring this class continues for a very long time. If I had known about this class earlier, I would have taken it TWICE." — Edmund Ottieno '17, Information Systems and Operations Management & Business Analytics

"I learned what it means to create a positive impact through business. A theory of change is the foundation to the process, which is as important as the final product. Through intellectually stimulating class discussions, Dr. Kirsch encouraged me to think critically about how businesses can create value by solving social problems. My favorite part of SIF was the inspirational guest speakers who shared their wisdom from their respective journeys of social entrepreneurship." — Sarina Haryanto, Class of 2018, Supply Chain Management

"I've learned that business has a greater purpose than to simply return a profit; it has the ability to significantly impact our society for good, and solve those issues that are otherwise unsolvable." — Adriano Backes Pilla, Class of 2019, Finance and Economics

Alumni of the Social Innovation Fellows program find themselves in a range of industries and organizations, and sometimes as the founders of their own enterprises. Here are just a few examples of the career connections our fellows have made:

  • Stephanie Cantor '12, Senior Associate, PwC, Cohort 1
  • Ryan Steinbach '13, Marketing Manager, Impact Business Leaders, Cohort 1
  • Lauren Kurtz '13, The Women's Lab, The Centre for Social Innovation, Cohort 2
  • Evan Lutz '14, Founder & CEO, Hungry Harvest, Cohort 3
  • Kushaan Shah '14, Senior Consultant, IBM Global Business Services / Founder of Social Rise, Cohort 3
  • Garrett Zink '14, Social Responsibility, Marriott International, Cohort 3
  • Daniel Kaufman '16, Advisory Associate at Grant Thornton LLP, Cohort 4
  • Laura Miller '17, Consulting Intern, RSM US LLP, Cohort 5

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be a business major. You may apply if you are in the process of applying to Smith as an internal transfer student.
  • Rising junior or senior. Sophomores with advanced standing will be considered.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA


Applications are now closed for the academic year and will reopen in January. The following will be the application requirements for the next cohort (subject to change).

  • Online application form.
  • Cover letter – Your cover letter should explain why you want to be a part of this program, what you can bring to the program, and what you hope to gain from participating. Address your cover letter to the faculty champion for this fellows program.
  • Resume.

Note: Cover letter and resume must be submitted in PDF format.

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