Social Impact Fellows

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. Together, our students 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.

"It was an extraordinary experience. Working on this project, I’ve found that we really need to collaborate and work with people from all disciplines relevant to the problems and issues we face in society."
— Ejura Adebayo, MSW/MPH student

2022 program

This summer, student teams will tackle a variety of social issues at 10 organizations across Western New York. Here are our partner organizations and the projects our fellows will complete:

Questions?

For questions, contact Amy Bayerl, program assistant in the School of Social Work, at amybayer@buffalo.edu. You may also contact Carrie Gardner in the School of Management (cg53@buffalo.edu) or Caitlin Hoekstra in the College of Arts and Sciences (cebarone@buffalo.edu).

How the program works

Three fellows outside a PUSH Buffalo facility.

In 2021, one team of fellows worked with PUSH Buffalo, a local nonprofit working to advance economic and environmental justice. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

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 on Friday mornings 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 a program stipend.

How students, organizations and the community benefit

A UB student shows a Belmont Housing client a form on a clipboard.

Another 2021 team worked with clients at Belmont Housing Resources for WNY. 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 Impact Fellows Fund.