There’s no doubt that the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School is a pioneer in the field of sustainability. Its innovative leadership in the field for almost 20 years was demonstrated again when the UNC Kenan-Flagler Net Impact Club and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise created the Social Impact Summer Grants (SISG) in 2014.
For the past three summers, Social Impact Summer Grants have supported MBA students that pursue internships with social impact organizations that require business skills and are underfunded. The grants used to differentiate UNC Kenan-Flagler, but now 18 other top MBA programs have followed suit and created a social impact awareness fund.
“When you look at our competing business schools, all of them have a program like ours. Where they vary is how they are funded,” Tom Cawley, director of advancement services said. “When prospective MBA students are researching business schools and going through the application and selection processes, having this kind of fund is a factor. They want to know if the institution has some sort of social impact program.”
Since its conception, the program has enabled five MBA students to make a social impact through their summer internships. Today it is at risk of disappearing without new funding. UNC Kenan-Flagler is seeking donations to fund more students with the creation of an endowment. To make that a reality, the School needs to raise $100,000 by spring 2018.
The Social Impact Summer Grants allow MBA students to follow their passions of working for socially responsible, sustainable and community-oriented businesses. The grants are important to offset the issue that some of these businesses are unable to pay an MBA intern salary, though the work requires MBA-level skills, says Michael Flint (MBA ’18), president of the UNC Net Impact Club.
“The main reason that a program like this is necessary is because MBAs take on a lot of debt to come back to school, and that means that there’s a lot of pressure to take the job that is going to pay the most money,” says Flint. “Programs like this are necessary to keep people going to these types of roles.”
Taylor Mallard (MBA ‘15), associate marketing manager at Burt’s Bees, helped found the program to fill the gap between MBA’s interest in working for a social impact organization and their need to earn competitive wages. The grants and scholarships allow MBA students to follow their passions, she says.
Social Impact Summer Grants reflect several of the School’s core values, including community. Jake Stallard (MBA ’18) received a grant to intern at the Triangle Literacy Council (TLC), a non-profit dedicated to “teaching basic literacy and life skills for economic and social success.” He applied the knowledge and skills learned at the UNC Kenan-Flagler to spearhead outreach and marketing efforts at TLC.
Donations to create the endowment will allow the future of the program to continue to fund students and their social impact aspirations.
“It’s really all about paying it forward,” says Cawley.
By Halle Frain (BA ’17)