The Social Innovation Forum: Week 1

Six months ago, if you had asked me what my plans were for the summer, I would’ve answered very simply, “To make some money.” But my focus shifted completely when I saw an internship posting for the Social Innovation Forum: this internship would be a chance to try out my dream job of working at a foundation. SIF acts as a bridge between nonprofits and funders. Through a two-year program, SIF works with a group of innovative nonprofits (“social innovators”) to help them establish connections, gain funding, develop their leadership, and maximize their social impact.

Ever since I took a course on Social Justice and Philanthropy (sponsored by the Sillerman Center), I have been fascinated by the idea of “effective giving.” The course taught me that identical amounts of money can have drastically different effects on social change when spent in different methods, and I became interested in the analysis that goes into an allocation decision. My internship with the Social Innovation Forum is an incredible opportunity to learn about the skills and tools used to measure social impact.

My first week at SIF has flown by. I arrived at an exciting time: SIF has just opened nominations for the next group of social innovators, officially launching the six-month selection process. At the same time, the “impact entrepreneurs” are wrapping up their twelve-week program. Impact entrepreneurs are for-profit businesses that have a positive social impact and their twelve-week program is a crash course on business development that allows them to get their feet off the ground. Just a few days into my internship, I got to witness the culmination of their work: an Impact Showcase where each business pitched their model to SIF’s investing community. The groups were inspiring, combining innovative ideas with a passion for improving the world. Whether or not my future career lies in the non-profit sector, it was exciting to see how private, for-profit companies can do their part for the betterment of society.

A Social Entrepreneur presents at the Impact Investing Showcase
A Social Entrepreneur presents at the Impact Investing Showcase

Since so much has been happening, I’ve had the chance to see a wide variety of my coming responsibilities, including database management, event preparation, and research. Everyone at SIF has been incredibly welcoming, showing me the ropes and making me feel comfortable within the office. I’m lucky to be working alongside an incredibly capable intern who has mastered all of the ins and outs of the job, and has been an amazing teacher. I hope that by the end of my time here, I can feel as comfortable with all of the procedures as she does. If nothing else, I expect to leave SIF with innumerable skills applicable to any office environment.

Throughout the summer, I will be sorting through innovator nominations, researching nonprofits that could be a good fit for SIF, and assisting in day-to-day office operations. I can’t wait to keep diving into this internship, and I have no doubts that it will be a great summer!

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Emma Farber, 16

Brandeis University

Social Justice WOW Fellow

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