Institute for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact

Mason Alumni open Cause, The Philanthropub

The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact (ESI) is a three-week certificate program designed to introduce participants to the emerging field of social enterprise. Students will engage with leaders in the business, policy, and nonprofit sectors while enhancing their leadership, business, and presentation skills.

Students will form teams and go through the initial planning stages of a social enterprise (a lean start-up) to tackle a “wicked problem” facing our world today. Examples of “wicked problems” include, among others, environmental sustainability, food and water scarcity, poverty and economic growth, women and economic empowerment, security, education, health and wellness, and immigration and refugee resettlement. The program culminates in a final group presentation to a panel of experts.



Students will receive a total of thirty (30) hours of academic lectures over an intensive three-week period, and will be required to complete assessments as assigned, so to receive a Certificate of Participation upon completion.

At the end of the program, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the current social sector landscape and place this sector into historical context
  • Create and market test a business model for social impact
  • Develop leadership and teamwork skills and effective communication strategies
  • Create a strategic plan
  • Create a fundraising/income plan for a social sector organization
  • Lead teams on capacity building projects for existing organizations and social enterprises
  • Identify and understand their own values and the values of organizations
  • Analyze social problems and potential solutions


Morning lectures will provide students with key concepts and analytical tools whereas afternoons seminars will help students use those tools and apply them to specific empirical situations. Additional guest lectures by business professionals and site-visits to local non-profits and businesses will provide rich context to lessons and students’ assignments.

Primary Instructors

Dr. Lisa Gring-Pemble, Associate Professor in New Century College

Lisa M. Gring-Pemble is an Associate Professor in New Century College at George Mason University. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf College, she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in communication from the University of Maryland.

Her research focuses on political communication and social policy. She is author of Grim Fairy Tales: The Rhetorical Construction of American Welfare Policy and a co-editor of Readings on Political Communication. Her work has appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Speech, Political Communication, and Communication Quarterly.

Gring-Pemble delights in teaching undergraduates and is a George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award recipient. Recently, she served as Director and Principal Investigator for a State Department grant that brought 120 high-achieving, underserved, Afro-Latino and indigenous undergraduates from Central and South America to the United States to study U.S. History and Government and to develop long-term solutions to pressing challenges faced in their home communities.


Mr. Aaron Miller, Social Entrepreneurship Concentration Head

Mr. Miller is a recognized leader in helping SME’s increase sales through exporting. Expert in international trade and commerce with a proven record of leading collaborative teams and building new international programs.

Results-oriented entrepreneur, fluent in Mandarin and other cross-cultural networking skills to advance global sales for organizations of any size. Adept in leveraging multiple federal, state, local and university resources to help businesses expand globally.






The program will also introduce participants to university life in the United States. Participants will live in student residence halls, meet with administrators who will discuss the application process to graduate school in the United States, and practice their English speaking skills. Along with daily academic lessons, visits to cultural sites are important elements of the Summer Program. Students will meet for day trips to local museums and heritage sites across Washington, DC and New York City, providing rich context to students about contemporary American political, socio-historic, and economic culture.


The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact program will run from July 10 – July 30, and costs $3,500.

  • The program fee includes tuition, group excursions, housing, airport pickup/dropoff and supplemental insurance.
  • Airfare to/from Washington, DC, passport and visa fees, meals, and other individual expenses are not included in this cost.