Social justice. Activism. Human rights. Advocacy. Thrown around in conversations about social change, these terms sound great, but the practical meanings of such nebulous ideas can be hard to nail down.
Caring about social impact, though, doesn’t have to be hard at all. Making an informed decision about where you go out to dinner based on local food sourcing or company policies doesn’t take much. Recognizing the importance of self-care and putting down that textbook to go for a walk with a friend can be the difference between two very stressed out college students and two well-rested and well-balanced friends—self-care can be as impactful as any activist movement. Penn has ABCS (academically-based community service) classes that will introduce you to opportunities to local social change work. Recycling your lunch trash, signing an online petition, smiling at a fellow student as you pass by on Locust—small acts of kindness, of intentional positivity, can make a big difference.
The great thing about social impact is that it’s not picky. College can be the time to discover what interests and inspires you, and if you really want to delve into a cause, there are limitless possibilities. Passionate about education? Go fight for equal educational opportunities for children in your school district, your country, or a country on another continent. Concerned about the environment? Join the sustainability movement and advocate for renewable energy sources, environmental protection laws, and wildlife protection agencies. Curious about how diversity can fight discrimination? Support movements working toward cultural, religious, and linguistic rights for all ethnic groups.
At IMPACT, we believe social impact means being informed about the issues affecting the communities—from neighborhoods to countries—that surround you, caring about those issues, and finding ways to be involved in movements that create solutions. Social impact is the difference you can make by knowing, caring, and actively creating the world you want to see.
IMPACT is a community dedicated to creating social change, beginning on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus and reaching individuals with Penn connections all over the world. Founded in the spring of 2013 by two Penn students, we have grown from a group of social justice-minded students to a community of students making a difference through a magazine, blog, and calendar of events. Our mission is to cultivate a culture of involvement in social issues at Penn; give students the tools to become active, impactful members of their communities; and bring awareness to students, faculty, alumni, and organizations working toward equality, rights, and a positive social impact.
Impact was born in the middle of the night. Valentina Raman and Frances Starn, now Penn alumni, were talking one night about social justice and change. Frustrated about their role in social impact on Penn’s campus, they realized they had all the tools they needed to make a change—and thus IMPACT was born.
Initially seen as a social impact-focused magazine and website, the IMPACT team began to assemble and organize in the spring of 2013. During the following summer, funds were raised and teams were built to get IMPACT up and running. A Kickstarter campaign allowed donations to support IMPACT financially, and in 46 days, we raised $5,001 from 66 supporters to fund the magazine and blog. We began the 2013-2014 school year with an online pre-issue focusing on a variety of social change topics we hoped to cover in more depth in the future.
Our first print issue was published in November of 2013, focusing on education. With this issue, IMPACT established itself as a magazine that would explore tough issues with quality articles, and we have continued to publish an issue a semester since.
At the same time, IMPACT launched a blog to complement the magazine, bringing readers more up-to-date, engaging blog posts and articles to continue to foster conversation between issues. The blog continues to be an important avenue for discussion, engagement, and change within the IMPACT community.
Since then, our mission has grown to encompass a community of members engaged in events, including volunteer and community outreach events, speakers, and “social impact” trainings. IMPACT aims to reach as many students, faculty, alumni, and residents of Philadelphia as possible through a wide variety of events catering not only to IMPACT members but to anyone interested in social impact.
As the IMPACT community continues to grow, we strive to increase participation, diversify our interests, and push the boundaries of our exploration of social issues. Through a high quality magazine, dynamic blog, and series of events, we hope to continue to foster a relationship with the greater Penn community in which we can learn from each other and create a positive social impact as we do.
While Penn students founded IMPACT and continue to run the organization, none of our work would be possible without the guidance and assistance from the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, Kelly Writers House, Student Activities Council, and the numerous supporters of our Kickstarter in the summer of 2013. In addition, we are grateful for the unwavering support of our friends, our families, and our university, Together, we are creating a conscious, informed, and caring community—together we have an IMPACT.
IMPACT’s goal is to foster a community of individuals who are committed to social change in their own lives, within the university, and outside of Penn’s campus. As an organization, IMPACT aims to encourage, facilitate, and organize events focused on affecting positive change, empowering students to gain the tools to be lifelong changemakers. Events include fundraisers benefiting causes related to the current magazine’s theme, “crash courses” in which Penn students learn about social impact topics from experts in the field, and hands-on community service outreach opportunities within the Philadelphia community.