Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is a hub of social impact activity. The business school’s Net Impact Chapter is the center of that hub and our 2018 Chapter of the Year for U.S.-based graduate schools.

Kellogg Net Impact is the umbrella organization for all social impact groups on campus and an advisor to a growing social impact movement among Northwestern’s undergraduate students. Chapter Co-President Sahar Jamal estimates that 75 percent of Kellogg students engage in social impact activity each year; for example, by attending a Kellogg Net Impact event consulting for a Chicago-area nonprofit organization, or taking one of 30 courses in the social impact curriculum.

Like many other business school Net Impact Chapters this year, Kellogg hosted an impact investing case competition and sponsored speakers from the social impact world. The CEO of Tommy Hilfiger’s fashion company spoke to Kellogg students about designing clothes for people with disabilities, a large and underserved market.

But Kellogg Net Impact went a giant step further. Over the summer, a chapter team traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to work with SunCulture, a company that sells affordable solar-powered water pumps and drip irrigation systems to low-acreage farmers. The Kellogg Net Impact members helped SunCulture develops a crowdfunding platform to raise money for farmers.

Chapter Co-President Lauren Levine says that the events and activities are only one part of what makes Kellogg Net Impact so important to her business school experience. It’s an inspiration to connect with others who are smart, capable, passionate, and ready to lead, Levine told me.

Both Jamal and Levine said that their involvement with Kellogg Net Impact had significantly deepened their understanding of social impact and how to pursue real change in their careers. After her own visit to Kenya over the summer to work with a healthcare organization, Jamal switched career tracks entirely and is now working to build her own health-related company.

As they get ready to graduate from Kellogg in the spring, Levine and Jamal have high hopes for a groundbreaking project the Chapter’s been working on for some time: a student-run impact investing fund. The goal is not only to give Kellogg students hands-on experience working in impact investing but to broaden the scope of a traditional impact investing fun to specifically include investors of color who are interested in funding entrepreneurs of color.