Ankur Chourey (WG ’13) may save the lives of thousands of Nigerian kids this summer – but only with your help. Why? Because Ankur is an applicant to Wharton’s Summer Public Interest Fund (SPIF). SPIF is a student-funded, student-led initiative that offers stipends to first-year students who devote their summers to the social impact or public sector. And that’s where you come in: since 1998, it’s been a Wharton tradition for first-years to pledge 1-2% of their summer pay towards the living expenses of people like Ankur.
Before coming to Wharton, Ankur worked in R&D at Unilever. But he wasn’t designing Lipton Tea with omega-3s or pomegranate-flavored Ben & Jerry’s. He was developing hygiene-promoting soaps for poor consumers in the developing world who had no access to running water. This summer, Ankur wants to work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, making oral rehydration solutions available to children in Nigeria. Ankur’s dedication will avert some of the 1.5 million deaths of children under the age of five that occur annually due to diarrhea-related dehydration. Will you help him?
Just last year, because of the generosity of classmates and matching funds from the Wharton Program for Social Impact, SPIF was able to support 17 students with close to $80,000. You don’t need to have aced Stats to realize that the SPIF Fellows aren’t getting rich off of their classmates. They’re lucky to break even over the summer. But the SPIF Fellows are willing to make a sacrifice in order to contribute some of their amazing Wharton skills to people in need.
Last year, Marijn Spillebeen (WG ’12) spent his SPIF summer on the ground in Ghana, starting the West Africa office for the pioneering impact investing firm, Acumen Fund. Matt Henley (WG ’12) worked with the NYC Economic Development Corporation to foster job growth and investment in Queens, New York. Amy Wang (WG ’12) worked with the Grassroots Business Fund to develop a new financial vehicle, bringing financing to many more high-impact businesses in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
There are 17 stories like these from last summer and more than 100 since SPIF’s founding. We hope that our classmates will come back this fall with even more enriching and amazing experiences to share.
Of course, because this is Wharton, we can’t do something – even something this good – just for its own sake. We’re competitors, and we have to be the best. That means two things:
First, it means that the Class of 2013 is aiming to raise the most money of any Wharton class since the program began in 1998. The Class of 2012 set a very high bar. Can we beat it? I think so.
Second, it means that we need to out-give Stanford. Their equivalent of SPIF typically gets more than 80% participation from their first-year class. In past years, they’ve outpaced us. Are we going to let a bunch of frisbee-throwing California hippies get away with that? (no offense Steve Aguirre). I think not.
This week – SPIF Week – you’ll be seeing SPIF leaders in MBA Café. You’ll be seeing us at Pub. You’ll be seeing us everywhere you go. In fact, we’re watching you while you read this article right now. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to support your classmates. We’re also joined by sexy, brilliant Cohort Captains, each of whom is committed to making your cohort the giving-est of all. You can expect them to come up with clever, delicious, and titillating incentives for you to get on board.
Over the past year, there’s been a lot of talk about the power and privilege of “The 1%,” both here at Wharton and around the country. It’s true: each of us got here with the help of friends, family, teachers, colleagues, and others who gave of themselves when they didn’t have to. That’s why we felt that it was important this year to take on the theme of “Redefining 1%.” We know that Wharton is special, but not because we’re privileged. It’s special because it’s a community of people who use their immense talents, resources, and good fortune to support the wider world. So, stop by at MBA Café this week, and join us in Redefining 1%.
Andrew Solomon is a member of the WG ‘13 SPIF Board, along with Ashley Beckner, Christopher Hogg, Monica Jain, and Tingting Ye.