Sustainability and Social Impact

Green BusinessWharton is home to a number of centers, initiatives and clubs that focus on the changing nature of business. Discussion on such a topic could be heard at the Sustainable Brands Conference from the Initiative for Global Environment Leadership (IGEL), which was co-hosted with Sustainable Life Media and discussed “The New Metrics of Sustainable Business.”

Event speakers from PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Dow Chemical Co., Oxfam America and the Coco-Cola Co., among many other groups, discussed how organizations can measure the impact of their sustainability programs and communicate their importance to consumers and other stakeholders. Participants posed questions to speakers and engaged each other in roundtable discussions during this one-day conference held on campus in the fall.

One thing the speakers agreed to was that smart, sustainable business strategy included a social component.

As Wharton students enter the business community, whether it’s to focus on sustainability or finance, it is essential that they have some awareness of the importance of social impact. For the Wharton students who wish to enter the social-impact arena directly, the School has worked to ensure that its students can do so.

For MBA students who wish to pursue a nonprofit internship, for instance, the Wharton School’s Summer Public Interest Fund (SPIF) provides funding to make this possible. Support for SPIF comes from other MBAs; those with a paid internship are asked to consider donating 1 percent to 2 percent of their salary. This fund is matched by a $30,000 challenge grant from the Wharton Program for Social Impact. In addition, alumni entering the nonprofit sector after graduation can apply for the John M. Bendheim Loan Forgiveness Fund for Public Service. This fund pays up to $20,000 per year directly to the recipients’ student loan lender. For more information on social impact at Wharton, the SPIF program and the Bendheim Fund, please visit Wharton’s Program for Social Impact website at www.wharton.upenn.edu/socialimpact/index.cfm.

Additionally, Wharton administers the Barry and Marie Lipman Family Prize. This prize is awarded annually to one organization that deeply affects the social sphere. Organizations of all types from around the globe can be considered for this award.

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