A one week program for UPenn's emerging impact leaders.

Every year, Penn Impact Lab brings together 25 emerging leaders across undergraduate and graduate schools. Students explore their passion and purpose, connect with a community of changemakers, and learn the leadership skills necessary to create positive social change.

The program kicks off on the coast of Nicaragua, where students dive into seven days of leadership development, design thinking for social innovation, community building, and entrepreneurship training.

When Fellows return from Nicaragua, we encourage students to enroll in a social entrepreneurship course online on Coursera with Dr. Peter Frumkin to complement their social impact and leadership experience in Nicaragua.

Back on campus, you’ll join an on-campus and global community of CSIS alumni with whom you’ll continue to learn, grow alongside, and change the world. CSIS encourages alumni to collaborate across programs, disciplines, and regions — with ongoing support and mentorship from the Center.

We’ll also provide you with tools, resources and techniques to help you carry out your own design research process and take your most powerful ideas to the next level explore your ideas further and deeper.

PIL is designed to help you explore your hunches, test your assumptions, ask difficult questions and encourage one another to see the world from a mindset of possibility.

Inspirational Setting

Learn, work and play in beautiful Nicaragua.

Learn By Doing

We offer a hands-on curriculum and train you with the tools to help you strengthen your leadership.

Leadership Skills

Learn the skills to turn a skill or passion into a concrete plan for social impact.

Powerful Community

Build meaningful connections with students and faculty at Penn across various schools.

Digital Detox

Take time to intentionally disconnect with technology and reconnect with your personal purpose.


Be asked the really challenging questions from experienced leaders to support and challenge you to take risks.

We believe anyone, everywhere can drive change. All you need is an idea, passion and grit. This is your chance to step up and together we’ll help you become a changemaker.

Apply today if:

  • You want to be a leader.
  • You care about making the world a better place.
  • You believe there’s a problem you want to solve, but you don’t know how to get started.
  • You are a current undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • You want to join a community where you can talk about issues that matter and take action together.

Key Details


Penn Impact Lab  May 20-27, 2017
Location Magnific Rock, Nicaragua

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Program Fee $2,450. Students are encouraged to apply regardless of ability to pay, as need-based scholarships are available.
Application Deadline February 20, 2017


Want to know more?

Download the Program Viewbook to read additional information about the curriculum, location, and alumni.

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Apply Now

We are currently not accepting applications but please check back in Fall 2017 for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need a social venture or a project to apply?
A: No. We encourage any students with a creative mindset and the drive to make the world a better place to apply. Penn Impact Lab is as much about honing your leadership skills and developing a social impact skillset as it is dreaming about your venture. We welcome students to apply regardless of whether or not you currently have a venture.

Q: What is included in the price of $2,450?
A: All programming and training-related cost, housing and all on-site meals at Magnific Rock, pre-scheduled shuttle to/from Managua, Nicaragua airport to Magnific Rock are included in this fee. Airfare to/from Managua, Nicaragua, travel insurance and travel fees, such as personal vaccinations or travel visas are not included.

Q: Do you offer financial aid/scholarships?
A: Yes. We offer partial scholarships to admitted fellows on a sliding scale based on financial need. We do not want financial circumstances to prevent fellows from participating.

Q: Is this just for upperclassmen or graduate students? What schools?
A: We created this program to include all current students at Penn: undergraduate, graduate, full-time, and part-time. Penn Impact Lab is open to students in all 12 Penn schools.


Q:‘Social impact’ is new to me; what are my chances of acceptance?
A: Our team looks for people with positive attitudes more than a particular type of resume. If you’re excited by this program and believe you could learn, grow, and support your peers, we invite you to apply. And if you’re seasoned in the social impact space, we also invite you to apply. This community of peers will be strongest when it is most diverse.

Q: Who will be teaching at PIL?
A: You’ll work with an amazing and diverse team of faculty on leadership skills, design thinking, business strategy, and research methods. Our staff is a blend of facilitators, practitioners, and researchers. You’ll be surrounded by seasoned and successful social entrepreneurs providing coaching and mentorship.

Q: What happens after the program?
A: Participants return to a robust community of alumni at Penn supporting one another in their personal and professional goals.

Q: What if I can’t make it the whole time?
A: We ask for full participation from selected students. Any person who is selected and commits to the program will be expected to be present for all of the program, from May 20th – 27th.