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About CIL @ SF

Since 2015, the CIL has organized CIL @ SF, a trip for approximately 10 students to meet Swarthmore alums and tour tech related companies in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas.  Students have had the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurial alumni who live and work in the region, to learn about their work and their workplaces, and engage with start-up, venture capital, and tech communities. The CIL @ SF program has visited Google HQ,, Title Nine, DFJ Ventures, Stitch Fix, OpenTable, and Stanford University’s, among others. 

CIL @ SF Learning Goals:

  • Through case studies, examine a number of society’s “wicked problems”.  Explore the range of contributing issues to wicked problems and the methods employed to find solutions to seemly intractable issues.
  • Understand and explore the principles of social innovation as applied in a number of different scenarios.
  • Examine the knowledge base, experience and career paths of individuals who are social innovators across the public to private spectrum.
  • Understand the dynamic community and ecosystem of social innovation in the San Francisco area.
  • Build meaningful connections with peers, staff, and alumni. 

Who: 10 Swarthmore students

Where: companies may include DFJGoogleOpenTableStitchFix, Skoll Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and more in San Francisco and Silicon Valley

When: TBD

Cost: $0. All travel to and from Swarthmore, food, and accommodations is covered by the Center for Innovation and Leadership.

Student Testimonials

"I think the biggest take-away is that there are many opportunities to work in the exciting world of tech and innovation even from a non-tech background. I particularly appreciated the alums' comments on how a liberal arts education at Swarthmore has benefited them immensely along their career paths. Also, many alums changed their jobs or even careers along the way, and many attributed that to the skills and mindsets they acquired at Swarthmore. I thought this is really encouraging and comforting in a sense, that we are doing the right things."

"I found it extremely inspiring as a humanities major that many alums had also majored in humanities and also really valued their liberal arts education, so I think this experience really was useful for me. While a lot of the skills were applied to software engineering, I still found the experience very eye-opening. It has really made me want to consider not giving up hopes for what I can do in the future; coming back to school it feels like not even the sky is a limit for what I can accomplish. Learning not only about the companies but how alums have been courageous in their own passions and innovations really gave me more confidence to do so."

"I have never seen anything like CIL @ SF during my time at Swarthmore. The alumni we met and the companies we visited made it seem like a door was opening in tech, and that coming from a liberal arts background, we weren't disadvantaged. I also enjoyed bonding with the other students immensely, most of whom I have never seen on campus before. Now, I am confident we will be friends long after the CIL trip."

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