Foundations to Fortune 500s: TSIS Students “Trek” for Business and Social Impact

Some trek to far-off lands to see exotic animals. Others trek up four flights of stairs to get to their walk-up apartments.

For Turner Social Impact Society (TSIS) students, however, a “trek” means neither exotic animals nor many flights of stairs. It means a chance to meet with impact investors, corporations, and foundations to explore the business of creating impact.

“The TSIS trek to New York reinvigorated my passion for social impact and my hope for the future,” reflected Julia Bache, W’19.

 

TSIS member Julia Bache and 12 fellow TSIS members trekked to New York City last April to answer one question: how do businesses drive social impact?

Over the course of their many meetings in New York, TSIS students asked that key question and learned from the Citibank Municipals and Securities Division; Kenny Beck, WG ’87 (President, Wharton Club of New York and Chief Executive Officer, CEO Connection); Pershing Square Foundation; and Frank Financial Aid (founded by Charlie Javice, WG ’14.)

What did they uncover? Below, students reflect on their takeaways from the day:

 

Dan Kesler, W’19

“The TSIS NY trip was one of the highlights of my semester. At Citibank, our hosts spoke candidly about the intersection of social impact and business as well as the challenges they face in their day to day jobs. It strengthened my belief that true impact can only be made by creatively aligning the incentives of all the parties involved and relying on strong business principles as the foundation.”

Michelle Jaffee, W’19

“I was most surprised to learn the unique methods through which for-profit institutions, like Citibank, incorporate impact and sustainability through products and services including municipal securities, new market tax credits, and community development work. It was fascinating to get the perspective of how social impact is defined in the context of a foundation, startup, and corporation.

Peter Hissey, W’20

TSIS is so unique because it exists as a society, where our goal is to learn from and challenge each other. After four meetings with some incredible people, we were able to talk to each other about our experiences and share thoughts, ‘Citi was so honest.’ ‘Kenny Beck is so charismatic.’ ‘Pershing bets big.’ ‘Frank is so passionate.’ But these comments also brought up other issues. We talked about world issues and how to address them with perspectives from Israel, London, and the U.S. While these issues are complex, the first step is an open dialogue.”

Julia Bache, W’19

“I was excited to see that [Citibank] is using real estate as a tool to invest in education, healthcare, affordable housing, and housing for the homeless, disabled, and other people in need of support. I was also impressed to hear about Pershing Square Foundation’s commitment to investing in creativity and innovation. In the start-up world, Frank’s founder and CEO Charlie Javice is a strong young woman who inspired me to pursue my dreams to change the world.


TSIS is a select community of Penn and Wharton undergraduates that are passionate about – and prioritize – social impact in their years at Penn, and beyond. Through the society, Wharton Social Impact Initiative supports and develops students’ commitment to social impact through fellowships, funding, mentoring, events, and customized opportunities to grow.