News & Events

Social Impact at Vanderbilt Business

Dec 22, 2021
The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures creates programming that drives collaboration, learning, and leadership among students

By Lacie Blankenship

The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures (TFC) is a trans-institutional, student-led organization that develops socially and environmentally conscious leaders by providing resources and opportunities for social impact.

Kathleen Fuchs Hritz, TFC Assistant Director

“The TFC serves as a hub for Vanderbilt students to connect with one another and with opportunities to learn and lead in social impact during graduate school,” says Kathleen Fuchs Hritz, TFC Assistant Director. “We help students create a path to integrate social impact leadership into their education, careers, and lives.”

Read more to learn about the center’s specific offerings, resources, and opportunities.

Project Pyramid 

The TFC describes Project Pyramid as “a program that finds its foundations in conceptualizing global poverty and developing solutions to eradicate it by partnering with businesses and organizations around the world.” It combines classroom and hands-on learning experiences to “meaningfully engage with socially conscious organizations across the globe.” Participants are selected through an application process each fall for the spring semester program and encouraged to visit the home country of their partner organization during Spring Break. The program is open to graduate students across Vanderbilt. 

The 2021 Project Pyramid partners included La Cana and MassChallenge Mexico in Mexico City; Nashville-based SOLES4SOULS, Coffee Equality Lab of the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt; and Carbonbase in Hong Kong. Travel was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, but the 2022 projects, partners, and travel plans will soon be announced. 

Immersion treks

TFC Immersion Treks are student-led experiential learning trips that expose students from varying disciplines to different cross-sector solutions to poverty across the United States. The most recent Immersion – the Murfreesboro Road Immersion Trek –took place in October. Students visited organizations and neighborhoods in Nashville’s south corridor, the fastest-growing neighborhoods of Nashville, where gentrification and low-income housing mixes with rapid development. Students toured various social enterprises and met with community leaders to gain a deeper understanding of social impact models. 

Social Impact Certificate 

The TFC offers the Social Impact Certificate to Vanderbilt graduate students that enroll and participate. The Certificate recognizes student leadership and dedication to understanding social enterprise. This program facilitates students’ paths in hands-on learning, educational programming, and flexibility for students to pursue unique goals. Certificate requirements must be met by graduation and include chats with mentors, obtaining engagement credits (categorized by connect, engage, learn, and lead), and attending Social Impact Learners’ Days consisting of workshops and networking events. 

Annual TFC Social Ventures Summit 

The TFC Social Ventures Summit, typically held in February, unites students, entrepreneurs, investors, educators, policymakers, and more, to impact through collaborative action. Last year’s Summit featured sessions on B Corps and sustainability, digital media and emerging tech, responsible innovation, equity and inclusion, and careers in social impact. Stay tuned for an announcement from TFC disclosing the details of the upcoming 2022 Summit.

Impact Investing and Social Enterprise Resources 

The TFC has an extensive network and bank of resources to help students interested in social enterprise development and impact investing. The TFC recently announced a new partnership with Wefunder, an organization with a presence in Nashville that serves as a “kickstarter for investing.” Students are partnering with Wefunder to gain experience in investing, develop skills for idea development and pitches, and learn about impact investing and startups. 

Partnerships with 100% Owen and Net Impact

As part of its commitment to aligning with campus organizations promoting positive and sustainable social impact, 100% Owen and Net Impact are valuable partners to the TFC. 

100% Owen is the Vanderbilt Business community service and philanthropy club that prioritizes the Nashville community by emphasizing local service and philanthropic opportunities among students. 

Board Fellows is a significant component of the partnership between the TFC and 100% Owen. This program matches MBA students with local nonprofits to serve as non-voting board members for a year, allowing the students to engage meaningfully with the community and strengthen leadership skills. Students are selected based on an application and interview process that concludes in November with matches announced in December, and the year-long fellowship beginning in January. Board Fellows has an extensive list of partner organizations, including End Slavery Tennessee, Nashville Ballet, Second Harvest Food Bank, Special Olympics Tennessee, and more. New partners for the upcoming cohort will be announced in the near future.  

The TFC describes Net Impact as an international nonprofit organization that inspires, educates, and equips individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. The Vanderbilt Business chapter of Net Impact works with the TFC to organize and execute several sustainability-related campus events throughout the year, like Net Impact Week. Likewise, Net Impact sponsors Vanderbilt Business students to attend its annual conference with various keynote speakers and workshops. 

“The TFC’s strong partnerships across Vanderbilt’s campus, in Nashville, and globally, make for rich experiences for students seeking to integrate social impact into their lives and careers,” says Hritz. “We empower students to drive these partnerships and build connections during their time as students and beyond.”

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