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Putting Social Entrepreneurship Principles into Practice

Students in front of Golden Gate Bridge

This fifth iteration of the trip immersed students in startup, venture capital, and tech-related communities.

The Center for Innovation and Leadership (CIL) organized its annual “CIL @ SF” trip earlier this month, during which 10 students engaged with Swarthmore alums and toured social impact-related companies in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas of California.

This fifth iteration of the trip immersed students in startup, venture capital, and tech-related communities. This year's trip also built upon a class, PEAC049: Be the Change! Social Entrepreneurship Principles in Practice, taught by Lang Visiting Professor Denise Crossan.

“CIL @ SF bridges the gap between theory and practice of social entrepreneurship,” says Xihao Luo ’20, a mathematics and linguistics major from Philadelphia, Pa. “It offers students different career perspectives through networking with Swarthmore alumni [and] fosters close relationships among the cohort of students on the trip.”

Adds Dawson Epstein ’21, an economics and peace & conflict studies major from Rumson, N.J.: “It was a transformative trip. It indirectly reinvigorated my studies by exciting me about future careers … [and] reminded me that Swarthmore alumni are extremely willing to help students excel in any career field.”

The Swarthmore group visited the following alums and organizations:

  • The Delancey Street Foundation
  • Jason Heo ’15, of Emerson Collective
  • CIL @ SF alum Charlotte Iwasaki ’18, of Flipboard
  • Antony Kaguara ’15, of Juvo Mobile
  • Jared Leiderman ’05, of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
  • Jude O’Reilley ’94, of the Skoll Foundation
  • Lisa Diaz Nash ’80, board chair of Atma Connect, and Atma’s CEO and founder, Meena Palaniappan
  • Nate Schaffran ’00, of the Northern California Community Loan Fund

Among lessons imparted throughout the week:

“Don't be afraid of failing. Keep applying to things; put yourself in a good position and the rest will follow,” says Pei Yi Mei ’21, an honors economics major from Brooklyn, N.Y.

“It really instilled in me the fact that you can and probably will take lots of different paths during your career, and try and do a number of different things, but that’s OK,” says Clarissa Phillips ’19, a sociology & anthropology and computer science major from Watertown, Mass.

Below are a collection of photos from the week-long trip.

The group toured the offices at Delancey Street Foundation, a nonprofit that provides residential rehabilitation services and vocational training. 


A conversation with Lisa Diaz Nash ’80, board chair of Atma Connect, and Meena Palaniappan, its CEO and founder.

Jason Heo ’15 welcomed the group to the Emerson Collective, a social change organization based in Palo Alto.


Antony Kaguara ’15 and the group at Juvo Mobile’s office in San Francisco.


“You never know how a career path can work out, and that a career really doesn’t have to be linear,” says JJ Balisanyuka-Smith ’21, an honors mathematics and cognitive science special major from Great Britain.


Students met with Charlotte Iwasaki ’16 at her office with Flipboard, a news and social media aggregation company.

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