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New social ventures coming out of the University of Chicago are working to increase and diversify urgently needed blood donations, cut battery costs and waste in half with smart management, and remove barriers to home ownership for working class people living in low income communities.

Behind those enterprises are the 2022 Tarrson Social Venture Fellows, three recent University of Chicago graduates who are receiving mentoring and funding from September 2022 through August 2023 to pursue their social ventures full time after graduation.

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.

Two 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 have gone on to raise 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).

“Social entrepreneurs in our sixth cohort of Tarrson Fellows are passionate about making our futures better, focusing on our health, our homes, and our environments,” 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 especially proud to support their vital work in solving complex, and deep rooted, social and economic issues.”

The 2022 Tarrson Fellows are:

Aviva Klein, AB ‘19, University Blood Initiative

Aviva graduated from the College in 2019. University Blood Initiative (UBI), a 2022 Edwardson SNVC semifinalist, is creating a sustainable and equitable blood supply by empowering the next generation of diverse donors. UBI recruits, trains, continuously supports chapters on college campuses and pairs them with independent blood donation centers. UBI’s work has helped save over 22,000 lives to date.

Dante Vaisbort, AB ‘22, Haylon Technologies

Dante graduated from the College in 2022. Haylon Technologies is developing technology to reduce unnecessary battery waste by creating a platform for batteries to perform consistently over their entire expected lifespan. It aims to significantly reduce the degradation of lithium-ion batteries, and facilitate a safer, more sustainable, standard in energy storage. 

Tom Voutsos, MBA ‘22, LadderUp Housing

Tom, an Obama Foundation Scholar, graduated from Booth in 2022. LadderUp Housing, a joint runner-up in the 2021 Edwardson SNVC, aims to bridge the wealth gap by removing barriers to homeownership for working class people with little or no access to credit. It purchases and renovates homes, rents them to workers building their credit scores, and then sells the home to the tenant when they can attain traditional mortgage financing. 

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