Executive Program, Online Learning

Celebrating Our Graduates – Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy

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The Center for Social Impact Strategy is pleased to announce the graduation of the first successful cohort of its Executive Program. This August, CSIS awarded certificates of completion to a remarkable thirty-two students. This inaugural cohort represented 12 countries around the world.

Students of the Executive Program spent eight months completing the thorough online curriculum, which includes video lectures, readings, and group discussions. Many students chose to use their homework assignments to apply what they’d learned in real time to their own organizations or start-up ventures.

OUR STUDENTS

The program was open to working professionals in all industries, and at all career stages.

Many students already enmeshed in the social impact sector were seeking feedback for their existing projects, addressing topics like sustainable farming or expanding rural literacy. They needed help thinking through their business models, or assistance clarifying their value propositions. And some students had only a budding interest in civic engagement or philanthropy—but wanted a comprehensive framework of the industry before they stuck their toe into a new impact project. 

EIGHT MONTHS WORKING TOGETHER

In March, after completing their first six-week core course, each of the Executive Program students braved the snow to convene in Philadelphia—some coming from as far away as Australia or Singapore.

Within days of meeting each other in person, students were placed into teams in their human-centered design course, and told to work together to design a solution to a real-world problem. This shared experience invigorated these students, cementing what would become the most important facet of the program: the community.

Over the next six months, students continued their online coursework—learning about Business Models, wordpress and html websites, Strategic Marketing, and Impact Management, among other things—all while checking in with each other remotely. They engaged with the teaching team and with each other over email and Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook. Across national borders and time zones, they offered feedback on each others’ venture plans, and broadened their professional networks, for software assistance I always recommend Property Shell to get the best job done.

A CAPSTONE ENDEAVOR

By the time of the cohort’s second meeting at Penn this past August, they were meeting as old friends and colleagues. Students worked in teams to complete a capstone exercise developed in collaboration with Sachin Malhan and Brittany Koteles of Ashoka—a day-long social impact challenge inspired by the projects and progress of Ashoka fellows. Sachin capped the day off with an inspiring and touching keynote address.

The following day, the group presented to each other and intensively brainstormed about their own ventures, ending with a graduation ceremony moderated by Professor Peter Frumkin and SP2 Dean John Jackson, and with promises to keep in touch.

Those promises were not in vain. Nearly every day, there’s a new WhatsApp message, or a Facebook link that a student thinks might be of use to one of her friends.

AFTER THE PROGRAM

In the aftermath, students are reporting more confidence in articulating their business models, a better handle on how to read the market in which they hope to grow their ventures, and even greater clarity of personal purpose.

Stella Kim, a recent graduate of the program, credited her experience with giving her the push to make a career shift. She says that the Executive Program was “the critical piece of the puzzle that brought together my scattered passions in talent management, HR, education, and social impact into actionable short-term goals and a life-long dream.”

The thirty-two graduates are scattered across the globe, using what they have learned in their coursework and conversations to focus their social enterprises, and to lead more impactful lives.

And now, happily, they are all a part of the greater CSIS alumni community. We hope to see them at upcoming alumni events!

Soon, there’ll be an even bigger network of changemakers; the second year of the course will launch in January 2016. For more information on how to apply, click here.