Spring 2014

Molly Barwick and Kathleen Robbins

Molly Barwick (left) and Kathleen Robbins

We’re battling poverty around the world.

Through the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, IU students are using business ingenuity to build global prosperity.


They’re still talking about Laura Hoover in Uganda.

After interning with Habitat for Humanity for two years, Laura spent a summer in Uganda with the Organization for Rural Development. She helped market a savings cooperative, where local women pool their money and use microloans to start businesses or farm their own food. She returned two years later to measure the results for her senior thesis—and yes, the women still remember her. But more importantly, that cooperative is still going strong.

Battling Poverty in Uganda
Laura Hoover (right) in Jinja, Uganda, with a local businesswoman

The experience showed Laura that she could use her business education to change one corner of the world for the better. “I learned what kind of career I want, and what my values are,” she says.

That’s music to the ears of Kathleen Robbins and Molly Barwick, co-directors of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact. In fact, it speaks to the very reason the institute was founded.

Several years ago, Robbins and Barwick noticed that more and more students were asking how they could make a difference. “We’d say, ‘That is the perfect use for your business skills,’” says Robbins. “‘You’re learning what you need to make a big impact at a nonprofit agency, or start your own social enterprise, or work in international development.’ But we realized we needed to help students make those connections and provide more opportunities to support their interests.”

So the Kelley Institute for Social Impact (KISI) was born. Barwick recalls, “We started small, to see if this demand really existed. In February of 2010 we brought in Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, to speak at the IU Auditorium. Hundreds of students showed up.”

Today, more than 2,000 students are connected with KISI. Its offerings fall into three categories: international development, community service, and social entrepreneurship. Among the programs students can choose from:

  • The Consulting Roundtable, where they join other students to consult for a local nonprofit
  • A student-run microfinance program
  • Community service projects, where they connect with community organizations and hone their leadership skills

“We try to offer options across the spectrum of student interests,” notes Robbins. “Our students are typically smart, driven, and very business-focused. We love to help them figure out what they want to do.”

Barwick adds, “The students are looking for ways to contribute to society. In a way, by helping them focus and hone that passion, the institute itself is making a difference: among the students, in our local community, and in other countries. It’s exciting.”

Want to help KISI make a difference in the world?

Consider contributing to:

  • The Hoosier Social Impact Fund ($100–$5,000), a student-run and -managed program that offers loans and financial literacy training to small-business owners who wouldn’t qualify through traditional financial institutions.
  • The Alternative Break Program ($500–$2,000), which sends groups of students across the country and around the world to do community service during school breaks. The students immerse themselves in an issue (such as homelessness, social entrepreneurship, or fair trade) for a week, and then return to campus to advocate for that cause.
  • International Internships ($5,000), nine-week summer programs offered in Argentina, Bolivia, Ghana, India, Nicaragua, and Uganda. Students pursue opportunities such as working with a local NGO on issues such as microfinance, youth and education, and technology access.


To learn more about these and other funding opportunities, contact Kathleen Robbins, co-director of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, at 812‑855‑1649.

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