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New social ventures coming out of the University of Chicago are working to reduce packaging waste, reduce perinatal mood disorders, make composting mainstream, and to increase civic engagement and foster learning through video games.

Behind the mission-driven startups are the six 2023 Tarrson Social Venture Fellows, all recent University of Chicago graduates, including five from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and one from the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. The Tarrson Fellows will receive funding and mentoring from September 2023 through August 2024 to pursue their social ventures full time. 

The Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship is the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation’s capstone social entrepreneurship resource. The program provides $25,000 each in funding and other support to graduating university students or recent alumni who are committed to growing a startup that helps solve a social or environmental problem. The fellowships are supported by Ron Tarrson, ’72 (XP-31), and matching funds from John Edwardson, ’72.

To be eligible for the fellowship, applicants must be committed to working full time for their startups, which should be focused on social or environmental impact. To view past Tarrson Fellowship winners, click here.

Five of this year’s fellows participated in the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), which has helped jumpstart more than 150 startups that collectively raised more than $165 million in philanthropic dollars, grant support, and venture-capital funding. The Edwardson SNVC is the social impact track of the University of Chicago’s nationally ranked business launch program, the New Venture Challenge (NVC).

“The seventh cohort of our Tarrson Fellows is focused on developing innovative solutions for  issues that impact everyday lives, ranging from sustainability to health, education and civic engagement,” said Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance at Chicago Booth and John Edwardson Faculty Director of the Rustandy Center. “As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Rustandy Center, we are delighted to support their passion and commitment towards making the world better.”

The 2023 Tarrson Fellows are:

Kristina Choo, MBA ’23, Demi
Andrew Lee, MBA ’23, Demi

Kristina and Andrew graduated from Booth in 2023. Demi is on a mission to make composting mainstream by offering sleek and convenient urban composting solutions to reduce food waste and encourage sustainable living habits. It is the first composting solution that is executing a nationwide strategy by partnering with residential and commercial buildings. 

Clay Curran, MBA ’23, Orca

Clay graduated from Booth in 2023. Orca is a last-mile shipping company for ecommerce food brands with the mission of making shipping perishables seamless, affordable, and sustainable. Through an innovative “circular delivery” model, Orca recovers and reuses cold-chain materials to eliminate harmful waste and reduce costs for its partners.

Ashlin Kamoe, MSW ’23, Hibiscus Health

Ashlin graduated from the Crown Family School in 2023. Hibiscus Health provides urgent and accessible therapeutic interventions for new parents suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. By providing virtual psychotherapy to postpartum mothers, it fills gaps in care and lessens the impact on the patients, families, and society.

Benjamin Moses Schenkel, MBA ’23, Clause Out

Benjamin graduated from Booth in 2023. Clause Out is a for-profit civic engagement platform which uses gamified learning to incentivize users to engage with policy questions. Its innovative approach increases civic engagement, helps restore trust in the democratic system, and lowers barriers to taking informed civic action. 

Charles Wilson, MBA ’23, immersionED

Charles graduated from Booth in 2023. immersionED builds learning video game modules with high graphical quality ideal for schools at the junior high and high school level looking to increase engagement with content. The immersive approach provides students with active learning experiences perfect for the development of key transferable skills such as creative problem solving and critical thinking.

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Sujatha Shenoy

Sujatha Shenoy