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Graduating Impact: Six years of preparing emerging leaders

May 3, 2012

“I had my most fulfilling on-campus job experience at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy.”- Melanie Lei, Health & Societies/English, Penn SAS Class of 2012

“Through my work at CHIP I have learned that simply giving philanthropic dollars is not enough; it is imperative that donors and nonprofits alike think in terms of impact. I’ve especially enjoyed exploring the dynamic between individual and institutional funders and designing forums to foster mutual learning between the two. I am attending NYU Law School beginning this fall and hope to combine my interest in philanthropy with my law studies.”- Alex Zabierek, Philosophy, Politics, Economics/Urban Studies, Penn SAS Class of 2012

Source: Penn Almanac’s Photostream on Flickr

May is always a bittersweet time of year at the Center, as we say goodbye to another crop of graduating students in the Class of 2012.  Since 2006, the year of our Center’s founding, we’ve relied on research help from undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students—many from the University of Pennsylvania—and others from Temple University and Thomas Jefferson. While our research assistants are majoring in diverse disciplines—economics, business, education, health, English, nursing, social policy—all of their interests seem to converge into one theme: social impact.

Penn is a rich environment to pursue an interest in social impact. Programs such as the School of Social Policy & Practice’s Nonprofit/NGO Leadership Program and the Wharton Program for Social Impact, as well as student groups and organizations such as Givology and the Wharton MBA Social Impact Club provide opportunities for those who wish to learn how their studies and career interests will best serve the needs of disadvantaged communities. Center staff members also lecture for classes in these programs and in doing so often recruit new student members onto our team for various domestic and international research projects. For example, student researchers have been instrumental in developing guidance for donors in the wake of the disasters in Japan and Haiti, and their analytical skills, energy and creativity have enhanced all our work, including in the area of graphic design!

Many of our current and graduating students have gone on to internships and staff positions at an impressive list of organizations, including: Arabella Advisors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Broad Foundation, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co, Abt Associates, Google, and McKinsey & Company. Others have started social enterprises (Numa) and joined new social ventures (UpLift Solutions) around healthy foods. A few have continued their studies in PhD programs in positive psychology, anthropology, and evaluation for education programs. Others are charging ahead in community engagement, such as teaching adolescent and reproductive health in community centers and hospitals.

When we think about our impact as a Center, we think not only about helping dollars flow to where they can do the most good, but also our role in preparing these talented, committed young people to make a positive social impact, no matter their chosen career. To our graduating students and Center alumni, we wish you all the best, and look forward to staying in touch!

And now, a word from our CHIP’s Off the Block!

“CHIP is a gem of an organization where I had the pleasure of learning from brilliant, passionate, and caring people, where I was encouraged to tailor my projects so that I could leverage my skills and knowledge to offer my best to our team, and where, above all, I was respected and loved for who I am. Anyone who has the privilege and honor to work with CHIP can be sure to leave Penn with more meaning, accomplishment, and purpose in their lives.”- Alejandro Adler, Positive Psychology, Penn SAS/Wharton Class of 2010

“During my two years as an intern at CHIP, I not only learned a tremendous amount, but I also felt valued for the unique skills I brought to the team. CHIP’s multidisciplinary perspective on how nonprofits function prepared me brilliantly for the both maddening and exciting nonprofit world where I now work.”- Liore Klein, Planned Parenthood, Penn SAS Class of 2011

“CHIP and I were toddlers together. I watched and helped CHIP stand up with the earliest research team. I watched and helped CHIP toddle forward, step by step, with its first research product, first report. CHIP watched me as I stood and toddled forward into society. I was there for the coldest winter days, and the pancake farewell breakfast. I don’t know what I gave to CHIP. But I know what CHIP gave me: A social awareness and a first-rate education on how to be a human citizen.”- Mickey Jou, Penn SAS Class of 2006

“Working at CHIP as an undergrad helped shape my thinking about post-graduate life in a lot of ways. By working with an inspiring team on important social impact issues, I became more focused on choosing companies and roles that drive a lot of impact.” Lisa Jiang, Google, Wharton Class of 2008

“I miss the camaraderie at CHIP, and the thoughtful discussions during the ’roundtable’ discussions in Kat’s office.”- Minh Chau (Downturn and Haiti cover designer), Harvard Business School Class of 2015, Penn Class of 2011

“The Center for High Impact Philanthropy complemented my graduate coursework by giving me experience with policy-related research—experience that was key when applying for jobs in the evaluation field after school.”- Lizzie Copson, Abt Associates, Penn Design Class of 2009

“My time at CHIP provided a sneak peak into the world of development and public health research. It helped me narrow my focus academically and professionally.”- Jelena Djordjevic, Bain & Company, Penn Class of 2009

“My time at CHIP provided a wonderful opportunity to learn from passionate, warm leaders in the social impact sector.”- James Liu, Google, Wharton Class of 2008

“I shadowed Kat as part of my Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership. Kat and the rest of the CHIP staff ask incisive questions, pursue a deep knowledge of each issue area they explore and have a genuine passion that sets them apart. Kat demonstrates her business acumen and social responsibility with grace and sensitivity. She was a fantastic mentor and is an excellent nonprofit leader.”- Katie Truitt Sharafi, Co-Creator at Mothergood Inc./Numa, Penn SP2/Wharton/Fels Class of 2008, Penn SAS Class of 2002

“I loved the people I met through working at CHIP; my experience there exposed me to a whole new sector of people making impact!”- Mimi Sheng, Urban Studies/Finance, Penn/Wharton Class of 2013

“My internship at CHIP far exceeded my expectations. I learned more than I thought I would about the philanthropic world, and I could not think of a better way to spend a summer.”- Jenna Ackerman, Economics, Penn SAS Class of 2013

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