The center engages with students, alumni, professionals, faculty, and staff in a variety of ways. Below is a listing of recurring event programming and community engagement initiatives.
Career Management Center (CMC) Enterprise Industry Series
The CMC organizes an industry specific event series throughout the year for MBA students. On average, one to two events within this series are dedicated to social enterprise. This series serves as a way for students to explore career paths and learn more from alumni and professionals currently working in the sector.
CMC’s Social Enterprise Alumni Panels
Each spring, the CMC and center co-organize a career panel featuring alumni throughout the social enterprise sector. Both alumni and current students are invited to attend and learn about varying career paths and opportunities, ask questions, and network with like-minded individuals.
The center organizes one to two career workshops each academic year. Career workshops serve as a resource for students and alumni interested in navigating the career search in the social enterprise sector, covering topics like mapping a social impact career, transitioning to the social enterprise sector, aligning career and skillset with passion and social impact, building a career strategy, and how to use social media — LinkedIn, Twitter — to identify career opportunities.
MBA and cross-campus student groups participate and compete in social impact case competitions throughout the academic year. The center supports student travel and/or entry fees for some competitions.
Company Career Presentations
Organizations host presentations for the Green Business (GBC) and Social Enterprise (SEC) Clubs in order to share background on their work and provide information on internships, projects, or career opportunities for MBA students. The clubs also invite organizations on campus for a presentation to learn more about their work, career opportunities, and sector specific information.
GBC and SEC organize informal site visits with social enterprise organizations at their offices to meet with employees and learn more about the organization.
Social Impact Breakfast Series
Please see Social Impact Career Series.
Social Impact Career Series
The center works with the Green Business and Social Enterprise Clubs to organize an informal discussion series with professionals/alumni in the social enterprise field. The event series is designed to foster an open dialogue and provide opportunities for candid questions on career insights, opportunities, and pathways. This event series was formerly known as the Social Impact Breakfast Series.
Working with the GBC and SEC, the CMC and center coordinate small group trips to major cities to visit with a range of companies within the social enterprise sector. Social enterprise career treks include the London Impact Investing Trek, West Coast Energy Trek, Washington DC Trek and the Net Impact Career Trek. The center supports the registration fee for the Annual Net Impact Conference Career Trek, which is partnered with a reception for local Columbia alums and students traveling on the trek.
Current authors writing about topics at the intersection of business and society are invited to campus for a lecture on findings and topics from their book, answer questions from the audience, and sign books. These events are typically cross-campus events and open to the public.
Climate Science and Investment Conference
This conference brings together climate scientists and business leaders to understand how new advances in climate science can inform investments in specific sectors of the global economy. The forum explores topics that address the value and opportunity of using a science-based approach to inform and guide business and investment decisions.
Faculty often bring in guest lecturers to campus for their courses and, when available, the center will pair the lecture with an informal lunch, dinner, or event for students that are interested in meeting the speaker but may not be enrolled in the class.
Throughout the year, the center works with student groups and departments both at the School and across campus to organize diverse event programming covering the breadth and depth of the sector. Events typically are paired with a networking reception to encourage relationship building within the community. These events may be for Business School students only or open to the Columbia campus and/or professional networks.
Occasionally, the center will host a film screening of a documentary and pair it with a discussion led by a faculty member or lecture from the filmmaker. Film screenings are typically public and open to the Columbia and professional networks.
Hackathon Design Challenges
Student groups and departments across Columbia University host hackathons and design thinking challenges around a specific social or environmental challenge. The events bring together an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty to problem solve through design thinking.
Social Enterprise Conference, Capital for Good
This headline event provides a unique opportunity to tap into the vibrant ecosystem of capital for impact through the lens of philanthropy, impact investing, ESG, and social venture and business examples. Social impact leaders in business, government, nonprofit, and philanthropy speak to how they are changing the way we think about how capital is sourced and used to generate sustainable solutions to global, systemic challenges. This event brings together industry leaders, investors, philanthropists, professionals, faculty, students, and alumni to share best practices and engender new ideas surrounding the intersection of capital and society.
Social Enterprise Leadership Forum (SELF)
SELF is an invitation-only event bringing together researchers, scientists, practitioners, and business leaders for a half-day forum to explore a specific social or environmental topic. This faculty-led forum is based on a research topic each year and explores and identifies solutions towards systemic challenges. Past topics have covered education reform, education technology, poverty, mass incarceration, climate change, and income inequality.
Social Impact Webinar Series
This webinar series was designed to engage our social enterprise community during New York's Shelter in Place recommendation. Our intention is to continue to disseminate best practices for the social enterprise sector, as well as discuss the pressing social and environmental challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure vulnerable and marginalized community needs are still addressed. All webinars will be recorded and shared on the center's COVID-19 Relief and Response webpage.
Social Impact Week
The SEC organizes a week of social impact-related events for the Business School community. Student organizers partner with peer clubs at the School to showcase social impact in various industries, such as the Real Estate Association, Retail and Luxury Goods, Black Business Student Association, and Columbia Women in Business Clubs. The event ends with the “Social Impact Cluster Auction Night,” which is a student-led fundraising night for Social Enterprise Summer Fellows.
Spark Workshop Series
Spark provides social innovators with an opportunity to explore resources, connections, and potential solutions to help their social ventures. These workshops tap into the collective knowledge within Columbia University and the larger entrepreneurial and social impact community. Spark is a platform for ventures to make valuable connections, as the audience is a self-selected group interested in the topic area. Ventures are also able to gather ideas through group brainstorming to help them address specific questions or problems within the business organization.
Tamer Fund for Social Ventures Webinar Series
This discussion series aims to provide access to experts and the opportunity to share insights and common challenges with other venture teams. Past topics have included managing and protecting social benefits while raising investments with Lawyers Alliance for New York, impact measurement with B Lab, and how to structure an effective hiring process with Rogovin Consulting.
The GBC and SEC host workshops for functional training in consulting and on financial skill-building topics for their members in partnership with fellow clubs at the School.
External Events: Fundraising, Networking, Alumni, and Donor Engagement
This event serves as the center’s main networking event each year, bringing together fellow alumni, faculty members, students, and professionals in the social enterprise sector for an evening of networking and socializing. The event is open to our Columbia and professional networks.
The breakfast showcases the impact of the center and serves as our main donor engagement event of the year. The center presents the Horton Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise, named for Professor Ray Horton and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a passion for social or environmental causes and have used their management skills to benefit society; the Social Enterprise Leadership Award, recognizing mid-career alumni who use business tools and entrepreneurial and management skills to address social and environmental challenges; and the Carson Family Change Maker Award, named in honor of the Carson family and recognizes current students who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to and leadership in the field of social enterprise.
Bridging the American Divide Dinner Series
Launched by three EMBA students, The Polarization Project aims to build a community of business leaders interested in engaging with the challenging issues of our time. The signature monthly dinner series is hosted by the founders and focuses on one “polarizing” issue. Dinners and trainings feature special hosts — typically a Business School professor or topic expert — who help curate an advance reading list and facilitate the discussion. With support from the center, the project also hosts quarterly panel discussions open to the Business School community. Past topics include income inequality, education and the opportunity divide, gun control, capitalism and the climate, the rising costs of higher education, climate change, health care, homelessness, the future of work, leadership in the age of AI, the role of business in society, and gender equity.
Nonprofit Board Showcase
The showcase serves as an opportunity for alumni interested in nonprofit board service to learn more about current nonprofit board openings from organizations seeking new high impact volunteers or board members. The event is intended for alumni of the School, our host partner employees, and, at times, alumni from other schools across Columbia.
Launched in fall of 2018, the series is intended to explore how creative financing for philanthropy can be used to scale impact across various causes. Future sessions will be incorporated into the “Social Enterprise Conference, Capital for Good” and deep dive into case studies on how each featured model has been used to advance a certain impact area.
Loan Assistance Program Events
These events are intended to celebrate milestones within the program, bring together social impact leaders in the nonprofit sector, and build a community between its supporters and recipients.
Nonprofit Board Leadership Program Closing Reception & Project Presentations
In celebration of the program, the reception brings together current students, mentors, and nonprofit leaders participating in the program, as well as the NBLP Advisory Network, to share project highlights and network with fellow nonprofit board leaders. Top students have the opportunity to present their projects to a panel of judges who award the NBLP’s Most Valuable Partnership Award.
Pangea Project Presentations
Each semester, the Pangea Advisors team organizes a project presentation event for project groups to present their work and share highlights from their travels. This event also serves as an opportunity for students interested in working on a Pangea project to learn more about the program.
ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) Business Forums
This breakfast series provides an opportunity for working groups to develop strategies for helping employers find skilled workers who may have a criminal history and resources that will support their decision to hire a formerly incarcerated candidate. Topics include hospitals and health care career pathways; expanding computer and tech sector employment; employers and FIPs narratives, strategies, and data: marketing success; knowledge and learning; and building the business case.
Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship (SESF) Presentations & Social
The center organizes a project presentation and social each year to celebrate our cross-campus fellows. The networking event serves as a great way for students to learn about the program firsthand from current fellows, hear from fellows about their summer projects, and get to know social enterprise students from across the University's campus.
Three Cairns Climate Fellowship Project Presentations
This event features student presentations on the climate change projects they completed during the semester. Project topics include innovative financing for climate resilience projects, deep decarbonization of northeast electric grid generation, climate resilience and adaptation growth investment mapping, and mapping the energy storage industry, among others.
Three Cairns Climate Fellowship Fellow’s Breakfast Series
This breakfast series brings together current and past fellows of the fellowship in an effort to build the climate community and strengthen the network of former Three Cairns fellows.
Social and Community-building Events
The GBC and SEC host community-wide events for MBAs around social impact issues —GBC’s “Earth Day” and SEC’s “Social Impact Week” and “SESF Matters” — to expose students to social and environmental challenges.
Social Enterprise Welcome Retreat
Each fall the center organizes an informal gathering for the Business School’s social enterprise community. The retreat is intended to kick off the academic year and bring together first- and second-year students, alumni, and center faculty and staff for an informal barbeque.
Socials and Happy Hours
The students coordinate socials and happy hours throughout the semester for club members, as well as partner with cross-campus clubs interested in similar career path or social issues.