Social Impact Fellows

Collaborating across disciplines to solve today’s most pressing social challenges.

Through UB's Social Impact Fellows program, MBA and MSW students from the School of Management and School of Social Work, along with graduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences, spend the summer learning about and creating social innovation in Western New York. Presented in collaboration with UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars, the program brings together students for a fellowship at a mission-driven organization, where they collaborate to address pressing social issues and make an impact.

The program has received philanthropic support from the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Family Foundation, the School of Management Alumni Association, the UB President’s Circle and several generous alumni and friends of the university.

Learn more about social innovation in the School of Management and School of Social Work.

2020 program

After careful deliberation, we have reached the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Social Impact Fellows program due to the unprecedented COVID-19 situation. The program will resume in 2021. For questions, contact Maureen Hammett, vice dean and chief of staff in the UB School of Social Work, at hammett@buffalo.edu.

How the program works

A team of Social Impact Fellows developed a plan to sustain the Service Collaborative’s Beds for Buffalo initiative—and got their hands dirty constructing beds too. Photo: Onion Studio.

The Social Impact Fellows program prepares students to address social issues using principles of entrepreneurship and social innovation.

  • During the eight-week internship, multidisciplinary teams of students work with mission-driven organizations to address systemic social issues. Teams are made up of an MBA student, an MSW student and a graduate/professional student from a variety of other UB programs.
  • At each site, fellows learn about issues the organization tackles and meet with stakeholders who are working on or affected by these problems. Then, using the entrepreneurial principles they learn, they create a solution to address these issues.
  • Fellows conduct their internship Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, they return to campus for sessions with management and social work faculty, who teach them how to identify, define and generate solutions for social challenges. Students also visit social enterprises, attend forums with guest speakers and share their experiences with one another in facilitated discussions. 
  • The program culminates with the Pitch for a Cause competition, when fellows present their projects and compete for funding to help their partner organization continue to implement their solution.

How students, organizations and the community benefit

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Another Social Impact Fellows team worked with Stitch Buffalo, a nonprofit that empowers refugee women through textile arts. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki.

Across the globe, social innovation is rapidly growing, as companies, nonprofits and governments partner to tackle sweeping challenges. That’s the spirit that guides the Social Impact Fellows program—and benefits all involved.

  • Students gain skills in strategic planning, creative problem-solving, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship (the ability to innovate within an organization), making them more competitive in the job market. They also receive a modest stipend for tuition and fees.
  • Through their internship and experiences, fellows find creative ways to address social issues, thereby making a tangible impact on our community.
  • By working closely with peers from other disciplines, students gain an appreciation for the background and skills their peers bring. Many said the program inspired them to expand their career goals to include nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship.