Students at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business are now entering their second semester as part of the school’s innovative Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship program, the first of its kind at a U.S. business school. Students in this first cohort include a professionally trained ballerina, a former Wall Street executive turned stay-at-home mom and a property management director. Their future plans are as varied as their backgrounds, but they share a commitment to address social issues, including poverty, equal access to education and affordable healthcare.
The MSSE program is based in Marshall’s Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab, led by founding director Adlai Wertman, professor of clinical entrepreneurship. Its curriculum offers students a solid business foundation focused on social enterprise and practice, including courses in feasibility analysis, impact investing, cause-related marketing, environmental sustainability and global social impact.
Alfonso Trujillo, director of property management in the housing and economic development division for the Cesar Chavez Foundation, is pursuing the degree as part of his commitment to transforming underserved communities. “I look forward to learning more about the development and management of effective social enterprises in the MSSE program because I believe generating supportable profit is essential in continuing and expanding Cesar Chavez’s legacy,” he said in an article on the USC Marshall website.
Libby Jacobson already holds an MBA and spent 10 years working on Wall Street, where she sharpened her analytic and forecasting skills. But leaving that work to be a stay-at-home mom and volunteer, she came face to face with inefficiency in her charitable work and knew as soon as she heard about the MSSE degree that she wanted to take part. She is already applying what she’s learning in the classroom in her work for Emily Shane Foundation in Malibu, which pairs learning-impaired middle-school kids with college-age mentors. “Right now we’re trying to deal with our growth before we expand any more,” she says. “I have begun to think about the organization in a different way: We can’t get bigger until we know it’s sustainable.”