At Yale SOM, we’ve been thinking about “social impact” since before most people had heard the term.
Our founding mission of educating leaders for business and society has meant that every initiative at the school considers how business and market forces can improve the world. You could say that social impact is in our DNA. It’s wound into our curriculum, it’s the passion that animates our students, and it’s the focus of faculty inquiry.
Our areas of focus within the broad field of social impact include:
- Social Enterprise
- Economic Development
- Nonprofit Management
- Impact Investing
- Diversity and Inclusion
Through impact investments, we can put our money into good use and create more long-term sustainable positive impact for our world. We can help people. We can help our communities.
When we teach the fundamentals of management and leadership, we include thinking that goes beyond the bottom line. In the MBA core, for instance, each course includes material that can be explicitly described as related to social and environmental issues. This material amounts to more than a quarter of classroom hours. But that’s only the beginning—social impact also comes up in discussions every day, since these are issues our faculty and students care deeply about.
Elective courses include:
- Business and Environment: Management and Strategy
- Business Ethics
- Education Policy
- Ethical Choices in Public Leadership
- Financing Green Technologies
- Global Social Entrepreneurship
- Inequality and Social Mobility
- Managing Sustainable Operations
- Modern Philanthropy: Perspectives and Challenges
- Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations
- Urban Poverty and Economic Development
Teachers & Scholars
Faculty from across the school study issues related to social impact and bring their expertise into the classroom.
Opportunities for students
The Program on Social Enterprise, Innovation, and Impact (PSEII) is a cornerstone of the Yale SOM’s mission of educating leaders for business and society. The PSEII supports and convenes faculty, students, alumni, and practitioners in research, publications, conferences, classes, and experiential learning opportunities. We explore how for-profit, non-profit, and government entities can find and deploy innovative strategies to build a more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive world.
Officially launched in 2023, the Meng Impact Investment Fund is Yale SOM’s first student-run investment fund, offering hands-on learning opportunities for students interested in achieving societal impact through market-based financial tools. Students gain real-world experience by researching investments, working with founders, and running operations.
Sample additional resources
Yale SOM Conferences and Events
Major student-led conferences each year include the Philanthropy Conference, Economic Development Symposium, and Impact Investing Conference. By organizing and running these major industry events, students deepen their own leadership skills and knowledge of their chosen field.
Global Social Entrepreneurship
Each year, as part of a for-credit course, teams of students partner with local organizations to grapple with management challenges and impact lives. Students act as consultants and travel to their partner’s home country as part of the project.
Social Impact Lab
This weekly seminar brings interested students together to present on and discuss their experiences working in the social sector, as well as regularly inviting guest speakers from an array of domestic and international organizations.
A range of student clubs with a focus on social impact—including Net Impact, Nonprofit Board Fellows, and Social Impact Consulting—host talks, organize job treks, and catalyze interest in critical topics.
Social Impact Landscape at Yale SOM
Numerous student groups, faculty-led centers, and other institutions at Yale provide opportunities to engage and learn about social impact.
Social Enterprise, economic development, international nonprofits: Program on Social Enterprise, Innovation, and Impact
Entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and startups: Program on Entrepreneurship
Impact investing: Meng Impact Investment Fund
Sustainability, green business, sustainable finance: Center for Business and the Environment at Yale
Student activities, events, and career support: Net Impact
Nonprofit board service around New Haven: Nonprofit Board Fellows
Pro bono consulting: Social Impact Consulting club
Many other student clubs address aspects of social impact. View the full list.
Faculty- and student-produced podcasts can give you insight into the conversation around impact that's always happening at the school.
A podcast about cities and inclusive economic development from Kate Cooney and her students at the Yale School of Management.
Impact & Innovation
Social entrepreneurs from around the world come to Yale SOM to share the challenges they are grappling with and the insights they are gaining in the field.
Yale SOM alumni, faculty, and students live out our mission of educating leaders for business and society by utilizing the tools of business to improve lives. They do so in roles across industries, sectors, and regions.
mission & money
Leaders of many kinds of organizations have to balance the motivation of a sense of purpose with the financial realities of their business. A Yale SOM study of labor negotiations between unions and museums uncovers some of the ways leaders can incorporate social justice in their decision making.
historic & sustainable
Real-estate developer Bruce Becker ’85 set out to convert New Haven’s Pirelli Building, a landmark Brutalist structure designed by Marcel Breuer, into the boutique Hotel Marcel. In the process, he realized that exclusively using renewable sources of energy would make the project more financially sustainable.
yale & new haven
Yale SOM’s Inclusive Growth Fellowship gives students the opportunity to work on projects aimed at increasing economic growth in New Haven in ways that broadly benefit the city’s residents. The inaugural fellows will consult with city agencies on topics such as affordable housing, sustainability, and business development.