Social Impact Fellows

For another look at the Social Impact Fellows program, check out this video from the program’s first year.

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, create social innovation in Western New York. Presented in collaboration with UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars, the program brings students together to collaborate, address pressing social issues and make an impact.

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

2021 program

Working in teams, 30 students from a variety of disciplines collaborated with 10 community partner organizations on projects across Western New York. 

Below are all of our partner organizations, student teams and the social issues they tackled throughout the summer.

How the program works

In 2019, one team 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 an eight-week summer internship, multidisciplinary student teams work with local mission-driven organizations to address systemic social issues. Teams are made up of an MBA student, an MSW student and a graduate student from the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • At their site, fellows learn about issues the organization tackles, meet with individuals who are working on or affected by these problems—and develop solutions to address them.
  • Each week, fellows actively participate in their internships for four days and then gather as a group one morning for sessions with management and social work faculty, who coach them on identifying, defining and generating solutions for social challenges.
  • The summer culminates with the Pitch for a Cause competition, where fellows present their projects and compete for funding to help their partner organization continue to implement their idea.
  • Fellows receive course credit (tuition and fees fully funded), as well as a program stipend.
  • New for 2021: In the fall semester, MBA students will continue their internship experience, providing additional assistance and follow-up to their organization.

How students, organizations and the community benefit


Another 2019 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. 
  • Many students have said the program inspired them to expand their career goals to include nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship.
  • Through their internships, fellows find creative ways to address social issues, thereby making a tangible impact on our community.

To support the Social Impact Fellows program, make a gift to UB’s Social Innovation Fund.