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 2020 Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship are now closed.

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). 

To receive information about the Tarrson Social Venture Fellowship and other programs offered through the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, sign up here.

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.

“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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