Institute for Social Innovation
“All people are entrepreneurs but many don’t have the opportunity to find that out.”
(Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate)
Established in 2006 and housed at the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) is a multi-disciplinary institute providing CMU students, faculty, and researchers with a variety of applied learning opportunities to design, prototype, and launch financially sustainable ventures, projects, and policy initiatives for social good. In addition, the ISI conducts applied research to generate new insights that advance the field of social innovation and entrepreneurship. These activities are reinforced by CMU’s interdisciplinary and analytical approach to problem solving, leverages the Heinz College’s expertise and influence in technology, policy, and management, and supports the College's mission of “educating men and women for intelligent action.”
The Institute for Social Innovation supports social innovatin and entrepreneurship at CMU in five areas:
- Identify: Future leaders in the field are selected and developed through Social Entrepreneur in Residence and research assistant programs
- Inspire: Globally renowned thought leaders, impact investors, and practitioners in social innovation and entrepreneurship are brought to campus for the ISI Speakers Series, guest lectures, and other events
- Initiate: Students can take a variety of social innovation courses and pursue a concentration in social innovation at the Heinz College. In addition, the ISI has conducted a number of applied research and field projects locally, nationally, and around the world
- Integrate: The ISI has established partnerships with a number of CMU-affiliated social ventures, corporations, impact investors, government agencies, and other related social innovation organizations. In addition, the ISI sponsors the university’s annual Social Innovation Solutions Challenge and organizes social innovation activities during CMU’s Global Entrepreneurship Week
- Incubate: A variety of fellowships and connections to social innovation incubators and accelerators are available for Heinz College and other CMU students and alums interested in pursuing social innovation ventures and initiatives outside the classroom
Our students have gone on to launch a number of globally recognized social ventures and assume leadership positions in organizations such as Ashoka, Echoing Green, and USAID.
The ISI is directed by Professor Tim Zak who has spent nearly 30 years leading global organizations, advising executives in the public, private, and social sectors, and speaking to social innovation audiences around the world.