Tarrson Fellowship: A Runway for Fund-raising

Tarrson FellowThe Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship at the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation is the capstone social entrepreneurship resource. The fellowship provides funding and advising to graduating students or recent alumni of the University of Chicago while they raise philanthropic or venture capital for their social enterprise.

In 2017, Ron Tarrson,72 (XP-31), managing partner and director of Santa Fe, New Mexico–based Santa Fe Aero Services, created the Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship. The Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship is a part of the Rustandy Center’s Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program and received matching funds from John Edwardson, ’72.

How to apply

Applications for the 2021 Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship are now open. Learn more and apply. 

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. For more information on eligibility, view this document (pdf). 

Five fellowships have been awarded since 2017, with most recipients participating in the John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge. Each received $20,000 and an additional $5,000 for web development, office space, or other resources. Past Tarrson Fellows include:

Hannah Meyer,17, of Pie for Providers

Hannah graduated from Booth’s Evening MBA Program. Pie for Providers (formerly Provide), which won first place in the 2017 SNVC, aims to lower administrative burdens for child-care providers so they can focus on offering high-quality care to more low-income families. The venture offers a software-based, back-office solution for child-care center owners, allowing them to enroll in government subsidy programs, manage licenses and accreditations, and maximize tax deductions.

Jake Mikva,17, of GoodWerk

Jake graduated from Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program. GoodWerk, a 2017 SNVC finalist, is an online platform that increases civic engagement by connecting citizens with candidates and causes that share their values. Its mission is to convert online “slacktivism” through content that generates a donation, not just the click of a “Like” button.

George Boghos, ’18, of Aim Clinics

George graduated from Booth's Full-Time MBA Program in June 2018.  AIM Clinics, which won the 2018 SNVC, provides the gold standard autism therapy to children in rural US communities. With a pilot in Arkansas, AIM Clinics focuses on markets where the shortage of therapy is the most severe, and the autism care ecosystem is least developed. AIM Clinics seeks to deliver high-quality, evidence-based ABA therapy to children in those communities.

Leah Shapiro, AB ’18, of Debate it Forward

Leah graduated from the College in June 2018. Debate it Forward, which placed second in the 2018 CNVC and won the 2019 SNVC, is an education nonprofit that de-emphasizes the competitive nature of debate and instead focuses on cultivating the core skills of debate. Through this approach, Debate it Forward makes debate curriculum—and its benefits—accessible to young students, students of low-income, students with learning differences, and justice-involved youth.

Wenting Xi, ’18, of VouchCircle

Wenting graduated from Booth's Full-Time MBA Program in June 2018. VouchCircle, which tied for second place in the 2018 SNVC, is a professional networking platform designed to help people in underserved communities stay connected, share jobs, and vouch for one another to get hired.


Josh graduated from the College in June 2019. Debate it Forward, which won the 2019 SNVC, is an education nonprofit that promotes healthy discourse in youth through play-based programming. The organization uses their innovative curriculum to engage students often overlooked by traditional debate programs: young students, students of low income, and students with diagnosed learning or developmental differences.


Kyle, a Civic Scholar in Booth’s Weekend MBA Program, graduated in 2019. Business Services Collective, which placed second in the 2019 SNVC, works with Chicago entrepreneurs of color in the construction trades to create a shared back office. By lowering the cost to delegate services like estimation, project management, and bookkeeping, Business Services Collective enables entrepreneurs to focus on growth and become engines of wealth creation in their communities.


John graduated from the university’s Harris School of Public Policy in June 2019, where he was a member of the inaugural class of Obama Foundation Scholars. MM Community, a 2019 SNVC finalist, is a Myanmar-based crowdsourcing platform that sources funds via low-interest loans from citizens and donations from international donors and impact investors. The funds are used to address needs in the local community such as building fences around drinking water ponds, or creating school libraries.


Kalyan graduated from Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program in June 2019. Prepmedians, a 2019 SNVC finalist, is an affordable online learning platform that uses humor, music, and pop culture to prepare students for the SAT and ACT. Prepmedians is cultivating relationships with nonprofits and public school systems to bring the program to English language learners and students with various learning needs.

Segun Fatudimu, MPP '20

Segun was an Obama Foundation Scholar and 2020 graduate of the Harris School of Public Policy. Impact Toolbox, which won first place in the 2020 SNVC, is an incubation platform that provides comprehensive training, collaboration opportunities, and seed funding to transform ideas for social change into viable social ventures. Training and activities are facilitated by accomplished social entrepreneurs and professors from high-ranking organizations and institutions worldwide. 

Devshi Mehrotra, SB '19, MS '19

Devshi received her bachelor of science and masters of science in computer science in 2019. JusticeText’s platform strengthens the ability of public defenders to analyze crucial audiovisual evidence to help ensure accountability and transparency within the criminal justice system. JusticeText is committed to supporting the capacity of public institutions to support criminal legal representation for all Americans, regardless of income.

Alana Taube, '20

Alana graduated from Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program in June 2020. Where Good Grows, a phase II SNVC team, helps donors increase the sustained impact of their charitable giving, evaluates the impact of their philanthropy, and helps them make strategic decisions about how to best accomplish their goals. 

“Taking a new idea out of an academic program is never easy, but the Tarrson Fellowship offers committed entrepreneurs a chance to sustainably grow their organizations.”

—Ron Tarrson, ’72 (XP-31), in a conversation with Chicago Booth


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