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.

NPLD 585 is a 5-day, off-site, intensive service-learning course in social innovation.  Students will learn how innovation and entrepreneurship play a central role in public problem solving. We will explore how social entrepreneurs co-develop new ideas with key stakeholders, articulate problems and solutions, define intended impact, understand competition, and collaborate with other actors. At the end of the course, students will have mastered a set of conceptual tools and strategies that will allow them to be effective problem solvers in diverse settings throughout their careers. Bring your purpose, passions, and pet societal challenges to share. The course has five core objectives:

  1. To introduce students to the concepts and practices of social entrepreneurship;
  2. To introduce students to the components of a successful social enterprise;
  3. To train students to view the world from a perspective of social innovation;
  4. To encourage and empower students to develop their own innovative solutions to different social problems around the world;
  5. To introduce students to real social issues and social innovations in a real-world setting.

Inspirational Setting

Learn, work, and play in a stimulating and peaceful environment.

Learn By Doing

Acquire the knowledge to turn a skill or passion into a concrete plan for social impact.

Leadership Skills

Gain tools to strengthen your leadership, by applying our hands-on curriculum.

Powerful Community

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

Digital Detox

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


Be asked the challenging questions from experienced leaders to support and encourage creative risk-taking.

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 On-campus: 4/12 @ 5:30pm and 5/3 @ 5:30pm
Travel: May 24-30, 2019
Location Acadia National Park, Maine
Program Fee $500 (not including tuition)
Students are responsible for their own travel costs.
Application Deadline Early Decision: December 10, 2018
Regular Decision: January 14, 2019

Want to know more?

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

2019_PIL_Viewbook-1.pdf (137 downloads)
2019_NPLD585_Syllabus_Draft-11_19_2018.pdf (190 downloads)


Apply Now

Get started today! Visit socialimpactstrategy.org/apply for the 2019 Penn Impact Lab application.

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 $500 program fee?
A: The fee covers all programming and training-related costs, including housing and on-site meals. Personal airfare and travel to/from airport outside program dates is not included, nor is travel insurance and travel fees.

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 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 22-31, 2019.