Business Societal Impact Fellowship Program

November 28, 2021
The Center for Civic Engagement and the Robins School joined forces to pilot the program this year.

The Business Societal Impact Fellowship program is only in its first year but already making an impact on campus and beyond. The Center for Civic Engagement and the Robins School joined forces to pilot the program during which students pursue an internship at a company while completing a rigorous academic program under the mentorship of a faculty member. During the fellowship, students seek to understand and contextualize the company’s impact on stakeholders, reflecting and contextualizing their experience around questions generated with their faculty mentor.

While civic and community engagement are often associated with the nonprofit and government sectors, for-profit companies play a significant role in communities and the U.S. political system. Companies are increasingly called upon to provide social value in addition to economic impact and are held accountable for their performance beyond their bottom lines.

“The program has been a connection and passion,” said Penny Hu, ’23. “I not only get to connect with people I never would be able to meet otherwise, but I also am able to learn about a big issue that might impact me in the future.”

Hu spent the summer working with Habitat for Humanity as the digital marketing and ReStore intern. “One of the many highlights of my experience is the time participated in a house dedication with the staff at Habitat. During the event, I saw how all of the work that I put into the ReStore helps the homeowners. It is always very touching to see the homeowners getting their first house, start their journey with their own home, and hold a sense of belonging and security through a permanent roof over their head.”

The Business Societal Impact Fellows are part of the larger University of Richmond Summer Fellowships program which provides up to $4,000 to every undergraduate student for a summer research or internship experience. These fellowships offer students powerful experiences that complement their classroom learning. Faculty mentors help craft a program of activities and reflections to contextualize their internship experience to apply what they’ve learned in new settings while gaining the knowledge and skills to pursue their professional goals.

"By examining the impact that organizations have on a number of stakeholders, students develop a richer understanding of the role that businesses play in our society,” said Mickey Quiñones, dean of the Robins School. “Working with a faculty mentor connects these insights with course content to provide a more meaningful learning experience.”

“This fellowship enhanced my experience as a Richmond student. Through my real-life experience during the summer, I understand what I learned in the classroom better. I made a lot of connections between the strategies that I used during summer and the theories I learned in the marketing classes I am taking this semester,” shared Hu. “I hope that I will be able to use the knowledge that I gained from Habitat to continue supporting affordable housing and help more people have a home of their own.”