Social Impact Fellows

UB's Social Impact Fellows are making an impact at organizations around the area.

Collaborate, innovate and make an impact.

Through UB's Social Impact Fellows program, students from the School of Management and School of Social Work spend the summer learning about and creating social innovation in Western New York. Presented in collaboration with the Blackstone LaunchPad at UB, the program pairs action-oriented management and social work students together for an eight-week internship at a local mission-driven organization, where they work together to address pressing social issues and make an impact on our community.

After a successful first cohort in 2017, the program will be offered again in summer 2018 thanks to the generous support of the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Family Foundation. Applications for 2018 students and partner organizations will open this fall.

How it works

Cody Barber and Asta Padervinskaite, an MSW and MBA student, respectively, worked with GObike Buffalo on a program to empower people in need to become bicycle commuters.

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

  • During the eight-week summer internship, one fellow from the School of Social Work and one from the School of Management work together with a mission-driven organization to address a systemic social issue troubling our region.
  • At each site, the fellows learn about issues the organization tackles and meet with stakeholders who are working on or affected by these problems. Using this information and the entrepreneurial principles they learn, the fellows create a solution to address these issues.
  • During the program, fellows conduct their internship Monday through Thursday.
  • On Fridays, they return to campus for sessions with management and social work faculty, who collaborate to teach fellows how to identify, define and generate solutions for social challenges.
  • Students also attend forums with guest speakers on economic development and social justice issues, share their internship experiences with one another in facilitated group discussions, and visit social enterprises throughout Buffalo. 

How our students, partner organizations and community benefit

The Social Impact Fellows visited Landies Candies, a local social enterprise that supports such causes as disaster relief and homeless care through its Pretzels for a Purpose Foundation.

Across the globe, social innovation is rapidly growing, as companies, nonprofits and governments partner to bring together their skills and perspectives to tackle sweeping challenges. That's the spirit that guides the Social Impact Fellows program — and provides great benefits for each stakeholder.

  • Students gain skills and experience in strategic planning, creative problem-solving, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship (the ability to innovate within an organization), making them more marketable and competitive in the job market. Additionally, students receive compensation for tuition and fees with a modest stipend.
  • Through their internship and other experiences, fellows learn about and find creative ways to address such social issues as homelessness, gender equity, food waste and health care, thereby making an impact on the Western New York community.
  • At the end of the program, fellows participate in the Pitch for a Cause competition, during which they present their solutions and compete for funding to help their partner organizations continue to implement their ideas. In the first Pitch for a Cause competition, fellows won $2,000 each for Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York and the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY.
  • After working closely with peers in another discipline, students gained an appreciation for the background and skills their counterparts from management or social work bring. Many told us the program inspired them to expand their career goals to include nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship.

"The pairing of MSW and MBA students was exactly what we needed to create a plan that was person-centered, fiscally responsible and sustainable." — Sandra Lauer, Director, Continuum of Care, Erie County Medical Center

“The students created a comprehensive program based on a solid foundation of research that has the potential to help youth aging out of foster care find and afford stable housing, support their educational and financial goals, and help set them up for a self-sufficient future. We were so impressed with their professionalism, initiative and how well they worked as a team, while each bringing their specific strengths to the work." — Amanda Wilton, Housing and Financial Coach, Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York