$5M Founding Gift for Social Enterprise Initiative at Chicago Booth

Chicago Booth School of BusinessThe Chicago Booth School of Business has received a founding gift of $5 million for the school’s Social Enterprise Initiative, which supports student, faculty and alumni interest in the social sector, Chicago Booth announced earlier this week.

Given by John Edwardson, retired chairman and chief executive of CDW, chairman of the Council on Chicago Booth and a member of the university’s board of trustees, the funds will help support the core activities of the Initiative.

In addition to helping students launch and grow businesses in the social sector, the gift will also fund faculty research and data collection—a major activity of the Initiative. The Chicago Booth business plan competition for social ventures has now been renamed the John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge.

“John Edwardson’s philanthropic leadership will help us integrate academic research on issues that are important to the social sector with educational activities. In turn, we can effectively study and help develop more effective organizations,” says Sunil Kumar, dean of Chicago Booth.

“The social sector can benefit from proven market-oriented ideas and best practices from the for-profit sector.” 

Edwardson says the Social Enterprise Initiative is a natural outgrowth of the interests and approaches Chicago Booth students and alumni take to their work.

“I am delighted to support Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative,” Edwardson continues. “Booth students, faculty and alumni are engaging in a variety of ways in the social sector, from starting their own social ventures, to choosing a career in the impact economy, making a meaningful commitment to philanthropic and volunteer activities, and doing academic research.”

Current and recent research on the social sector by Booth faculty includes field experiments on financial literacy and financial decision-making by the poor, studies on the impact of health and education reforms on development, and social psychology foundations of altruism and volunteerism. The Social Enterprise Initiative will host a conference on impact investing for academics and practitioners later this year.

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