In 2019, Mission Partners launched a Social Impact Fellowship program at Loyola University Maryland. The application-based program is designed to engage undergraduate students across disciplines for an 11-month creative and collaborative experience to advance issues of social justice in communities where we live, learn, work, and serve.
The Social Impact Fellowship is guided by three major questions:
- Why do inequities exist?
- How can design thinking play a role in advancing more equitable solutions?
- How will this experience influence our future work?
The first cohort consisted of 10 students, ranging from freshman to seniors, worked together over their Fellowship year (January 2019-November 2019) to collectively identify inequities in their community and, through a formal design thinking process, the cohort developed a proposed solution that could lead to more equitable outcomes. The Fellows researched and identified why these inequities exist in the first place, and actively brainstormed responses and possible solutions to these issues.
As a group, each of the Fellows carried a different perspective and lived experience— those differences helped them to be as inclusive as possible in their problem-solving, ensuring they did not inadvertently put any individuals at a disadvantage with their efforts. Though the Fellows are different in their backgrounds, they share a similar vision and value system, with a collective goal to learn, understand, and then act in a way that creates lasting social change.
Through the Fellowship program, students apply and strengthen their strategic, operational, and leadership skills while gaining business strategies and real-world experience that will support their individual and collective quest to build a better world.
Fellows met monthly during the academic year, rotating between Design Thinking sessions, mutuality meals, and field research. The Fellowship ended with a formal reception on the Loyola University Maryland campus. Each Social Impact Fellow receives a $1,000 stipend at the completion of the program.
For more information about the Social Impact Fellowship Program, or to apply for the 2020 cohort, contact Wendy Bolger, Director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, at firstname.lastname@example.org.