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Social Impact

At Yale SOM, we’ve been thinking about “social impact” since before most people had heard the term.


Students working together

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
  •  Sustainability
  •  Impact Investing
  •  Healthcare
  •  Diversity and Inclusion

Community stories

Preview image for the video "The Cross-Section of Business & Society: Social Entrepreneurship Lab".
In the Social Entrepreneurship Lab course, students from across Yale form teams to develop potential solutions to social and environmental challenges.

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.

Our curriculum

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

Prof. Kate Cooney teaching

Teachers & Scholars

Faculty from across the school study issues related to social impact and bring their expertise into the classroom.

Opportunities for students

PSEII logo

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.

Meng Fund logo

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

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. 

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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.

Learn more about this and other impact electives

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.

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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. 

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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.

Listen in

Faculty- and student-produced podcasts can give you insight into the conversation around impact that's always happening at the school.

CityScope show art


A podcast about cities and inclusive economic development from Kate Cooney and her students at the Yale School of Management.

Impact & Innovation artwork

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.