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Social responsibility a perennial focus at Kellogg

by Deborah Leigh Wood

Count the heads and crunch the numbers: Social responsibility is a big hit at the Kellogg School.

Roughly 40 percent of all Kellogg students — some 500 total — belong to the school's Social Impact Club, an organization committed to leveraging business skills to create better communities and a more just world. Students are encouraged to volunteer, support philanthropies and serve as nonvoting members on nonprofit boards.

"We have a huge momentum going," says Jessica Bailey '06, the club's newly elected president. "We've sponsored about 35 programs in the last year."

For example, through its Board Fellows Program, the club matches Kellogg MBA candidates with the boards of Chicago-area nonprofits for one-year fellowships. More generally, the club encourages debate within the Kellogg School on the private sector's role in matters of social responsibility.

"Debate is critical for building consensus among decision makers to adopt more market-based strategies to resolve challenges in the nonprofit world," says Mina C. Kumar '05, the club's past president.

On Feb. 23, the club organized its first Social Impact Career Fair, attracting more than 120 students and 31 organizations, including Bridgespan and Habitat for Humanity.

Typical of the club's efforts to keep social responsibility on the business agenda was the annual Innovating Social Change Conference. The October conference brought to campus such leaders as Richard Caines, principal specialist and acting manager of Market Development Group, IFC.

"I was bowled over to see how many of this year's MBA cohort have an interest in social entrepreneurship," says Caines, who was the keynote speaker. "It's very heartening and a clear demonstration that there is a sea change in the way the next generation will view their careers."

The club's successes were recognized last year by two awards from Net Impact, the leading international network of business students and professionals devoted to using the powers of business to create a better world. Net Impact, which has more than 10,000 members, honored the club with a first place Chapter Service Award and a second place Chapter of the Year Award.

"This award is a great recognition of the team's hard work and its commitment to serving the Kellogg community," said Liz Livingston Howard '93, associate director of the Kellogg Center for Nonprofit Management.

This fall, the club will host a speaker series that will include Suzanne Mink, vice president of development for the World Wildlife Foundation, and Janet Knupp, founding president of the Chicago Public Education Fund.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University