BYU Marriott’s Ballard Center for Social Impact is the world’s largest university program focused on social impact. We help students become active participants in solving the world’s most pressing social problems by matching students’ personal skills and interests with educational experiences that lead to a meaningful life of Doing Good. Better.
The Melvin J. Ballard Social Impact Center opened its doors in 2003 and has grown into the largest university-run social impact program in the world, with 3,000+ students participating each academic year in its classes, competitions, internships, research, and employment opportunities and with an additional 6,000+ students participating in events such as the Peery Film Series and TEDxBYU as well as our student organizations. The Ballard Center for Social Impact has been designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U (the leading supporter of social impact education at universities throughout the world.)
We work with organizations of any legal structure, including nonprofits, for-profits, government entities, and churches. Most of our partners are hybrids. However, the Ballard Center only works with organizations that can show social impact as described in this article. We only work with social-issue-focused organizations that fit in one of the following categories:
- An organization vetted by professional social impact groups (Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation, Ashoka, Mulago Foundation, the Ballard Center’s Social Innovator of the Year, etc.)
- An organization that measures great consequence-based outcomes and is planning to measure impact
- One of the student teams receiving Social Venture status through the Ballard Center
Enhance your impact on the world today by signing up for one of the following Ballard Center opportunities:
- Eye-opening events and student organizations to help you learn how to make your social engagement smarter
- Classes to provide frameworks for social change and help you learn how to leverage your skills
- On- and off-campus internships to help you to build your résumé and solve social problems
- Competitions such as the Social Venture Academy to provide coaching and funding to make your social-minded business ideas become a reality
Whether you can commit to giving the Ballard Center one hour of your time or several, there’s a place for you here. Students from any major can come to the Ballard Center for an advisement session to construct a personalized plan for incorporating our programs into their BYU experience.
Brigham Young University has been designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, an initiative created to promote social impact in universities. Through the efforts of the Ballard Center for Social Impact, BYU was recognized for both its dedication to connecting students with social innovation education and resources and its ability to produce influential Changemakers on a local and global stage.
Only 45 universities have received this honorary title. To do so, a university must prove the following:
- Institutional commitment to building the field of social innovation education
- Evidence of strong student, faculty, and administrator interest in social entrepreneurship
- Support from president and/or provost and active championship from one or multiple deans on campus
- Employment of a programmatic initiative around social entrepreneurship: an initiative, major, minor, certificate, center, or a variant thereof, exists ensuring an “institutional home” for social entrepreneurship
- Appointment of a mandated Change Leader accountable for the partnership from one year to the next, with senior-level support and commitment to this as a multiyear initiative
- Commitment to developing a long-term funding strategy to keep social entrepreneurship as a core part of the institution’s offerings
In conjunction with being designated as a Changemaker Campus, the Ballard Center developed the following Changemaker Creed:
I am a Changemaker.
I have a unique set of talents, resources, and time that I will devote to create the changes I want to see in the world.
I will seek to contribute to causes that align with my passions through donating to, volunteering with, or working for those organizations, or even creating my own organization.
I pledge to support organizations that make a meaningful and sustainable impact. I seek entities that fulfill the following criteria:
- Address the root causes of society’s greatest problems (not just the symptoms)
- Measure outcomes and impact
- Promote self-reliance
I will continuously improve how I assess organizations and my own impact on the world.
I provide unique talents to entities that align with my passions and provide sustainable impact. By incorporating these objectives in my life, I will engage in lifelong service as a true Changemaker.
Important Terms to Know
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The process in which businesses ethically build sustainable livelihoods for employees, surrounding communities, and society at large.
Human-Centered Design: Also referred to as design thinking; a creative approach to problem-solving. It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailored to fit their needs.
Innovative: Characterizing something that is better or more effective than previous products or ideas; refers to the use of a new idea/method or the application of an existing idea/method to a new situation or context.
Intrapreneur: An individual who drives entrepreneurial or innovative positive change within an existing organization or business.
Impactful: Having a positive impact on the world or the arena one is working to change. Unlike traditional businesses that measure success in dollar signs, social enterprises attempt to measure the social impact they have on a problem or the individuals they work with – for example, the number of families increasing their earning ability by x percent or the rate of youth recidivism reduced by x percent.
Impact Investing: The active placement of capital in businesses and funds that generates social and environmental benefits while simultaneously generating financial returns. Departing from a strict separation of the financial and philanthropic worlds, impact investing utilizes and blends best practices from traditional asset management, private equity and venture capital investing, business development, international and domestic economic development, and environmental innovation to support enterprises that maximize financial returns and social good.
Microenterprise: Small businesses with five or fewer employees. They are prevalent throughout the developing world where large companies that employ hundreds, like those seen in developed countries, are scarce. Forced into starting a microenterprise out of necessity, operators are often unskilled and barely living above poverty.
Microfranchise: Broadly defined as small businesses that can easily be replicated by following proven marketing and operational concepts. The overall objective of microfranchising is to promote economic development by developing sound business models that can be replicated by entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid; therefore, the startup costs of microfranchises will be minimal. The key principle is replicating success to scale.
Nonprofit: A charitable organization that aims to provide a positive societal impact. Although nonprofits can generate revenue, generating revenue cannot be the primary purpose of the organization.
Replicable: Capable of replication; in other words, a method or idea that can be reused and repeated in different settings, areas, or industries.
Scalable: Capable of being easily expanded; having the potential to be replicated to the scope of the problem.
Social Entrepreneurship: A field of innovators using entrepreneurial strategies and principles to solve intractable problems of society at a systemic level.
Social Innovation: The ecosystem whereby new and innovative solutions to our global society’s greatest problems are solved. This is an umbrella term used to describe the work that nonprofit organizations, socially driven for-profit companies, philanthropists, and others do to resolve world issues.
Sustainable: Able to be maintained over time. (1) An organization that is sustainable is set up in such a way as to allow it to self-perpetuate, making it financially or otherwise viable in the long term. (2) A model with impact that is sustainable has a model that perpetuates change in an individual’s life beyond the period of direct interaction with the model’s intervention.