Social Innovation Projects

Social Innovation Projects (SIP) is an on-campus internship program that empowers students to work on projects from around the world for award-winning organizations that make a difference. 

SIP recruits BYU students from every major to innovate solutions to a social issue for a nonprofit or social impact company with a team of three to five of peers they have never met before. Each semester we have twenty to thirty-five interdisciplinary internship teams making an impact remotely with our partner organizations.

Projects last one full semester (Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer) and provide professional experience supported through academic curriculum and experienced advisors. A 3.0 credit class runs concurrently with the projects for students to learn social innovation and develop the skills necessary to succeed in this seven to nine hour a week internship. SIP students build their resumes, make connections, and serve society.

Each semester students address a variety of social issues as indicated in the chart below.

NEXT STEPSADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Step 1: Add Class to MyMap(MSB 491R Section 1, 4, or 5)
Step 2: Create Profile

Whether students want to have an impact on a specific social issue or develop a certain professional skill, they will have an opportunity to build what’s meaningful to them. The partners we work with are award-winning and vetted organizations that use best practices within the social impact space. We look to groups like Ashoka, Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation, Peery Foundation, and others to help us identify potential partners. The partners we work with fall into three categories. Click on each heading to learn more about the three different sections of SIP.

SIP
Nonprofits and Social Entrepreneurs
Corporate SIP
Corporations and Social Responsibility
Impact Investing SIP
Investors in Social Entrepreneurs

SIP is one of the few places on campus where you’ll be able to build something with students from diverse skill sets and academic backgrounds. Interdisciplinary teams mean that every member brings something valuable to the table and can apply their existing skills while developing new talents. As shown in the graph below, SIP students come from a variety of majors, many of which often count SIP as major-specific course or internship credit.

Beyond meeting as a team and with a partner each week, all students will attend classes where we collaborate and problem-solve together. Discussions in class help students to learn the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in their internships and work better as a team.

BYU President Keven J Worthen has said, “Learning is enhanced by experiences outside of the classroom. . . Experience connects theory with application and deepens our understanding of the principles and truths we learn.” SIP internships embody experiential learning, providing students with opportunities to integrate and apply ideas learned in their course work from SIP and other academic experiences.

Each team is assigned an Internship Director who has been successful in a previous SIP project to advise them in applying class principles to their projects. Class grades are based upon the value students deliver to their partnerning organization, meaning midterm and final presentations, weekly reports, and peer performance reviews all contribute to final grades.

Class topics include:

  • The Social Innovation Cycle
  • Project Management
  • Design Thinking
  • Creativity & Overcoming Fear of Failure
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Crucial Conversations
  • Leadership Styles & Techniques
  • Measuring Impact
  • Storytelling

First off, know that 100 percent of students who complete the steps below will get an internship.

You will be assigned to a project before the add/drop deadline based on your profile and project interest (see Step 2 below). Specific project descriptions will be available a few weeks prior to the start of each semester. If you have completed one or both of the steps below, you will receive an email when all projects are available to view and rank on your on-campus internship profile.

  • Step 1: Add MSB 491R on MyMap. See the buttons below to determine the correct section depending on the type of projects that most interest you. This decision is not final and you might be moved sections later on depending on your assigned project. You must be registered for one of the sections below on MyMap to be assigned a project.
  • Step 2: Create a profile (see button below). Your profile asks for an up-to-date resume and some information about your interests. Profiles completed after 12 p.m. on the first Friday of the semester may not receive priority project assignment, but students can still be assigned a project up until the add/drop deadline.
  • Step 3: Edit your project preferences during the first week of the semester. Some project descriptions are not added until after class starts, so it is important to check what projects have been added and indicate your interest in them before the first Friday 12 p.m. deadline. We ask that you mark interest on 3 or more projects.

Submit your info here to receive email reminders about dates and deadlines.

Each semester the partners and project types vary. All of our projects are human-centered design-focused and start with empathizing with the problem through research. In past projects, students have conducted interviews, made surveys, competitive analysis, and secondary research. Students use their new deep understanding to ideate novel solutions within the context of the partner’s capabilities and stakeholders’ needs. As students move forward in this process, they learn through their mistakes, iterating, and testing their solutions along the way. After having tested out a solution throughout the semester, students make recommendations and suggestions to their partners to make sure their solutions and insights gained throughout the semester are implemented in the organization. By the end of the project, students have typically learned two to three of the following skills based on their interests and project needs:

  • Professional writing and report building
  • Creating and delivering professional presentations
  • Data Understanding and Analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Event Design
  • Program Design
  • Product Development
  • Project Management
  • Survey and interview techniques
  • Investment Sourcing
  • Business Strategy
  • Curriculum Development
  • User Experience Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Brand Management & SEO
  • Translation

Project descriptions can be viewed online through the on-campus internship website at the beginning of each semester. Schedule an advisement with us to go through more specific examples of what past students have done.

The Ballard Center works with award-winning and vetted organizations that use best practices within the social impact space. We look to groups like Ashoka, Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation, Mulago Foundation, Peery Foundation, and others to help us identify potential partners. Partner organizations take many different approaches to social innovation, including nonprofits, socially minded startups, companies with robust corporate social responsibility programs, impact investing organizations and more.

Yes! There are no required prerequisites for SIP.

We find that the most successful teams are ones that have diversity of thought. This may include differences in class standing, life experience, major etc. Multiple perspectives ensure high quality work delivered to partners, meaning diverse teams can do good better. It also gives students experience working on dynamic interdisciplinary teams – a requirement in today’s professional world.

Whatever experiences and perspectives students bring will add to their team’s ability to make an impact with their partner organization. Class time and mentorship from previous SIP interns support students in any aspects of their projects they feel unprepared for.

Of course! To participate in SIP, students need to be enrolled in MSB 491R for three credits. SIP also fulfills some major and minor program requirements if the project is approved by students’ departments. We are also frequently able to get this course approved for credit in departments across campus. Talk to your counselor about getting SIP approved for credit in your program if it’s highlighted below. Email us at sip@byu.edu for further questions.

You will work an average of seven to nine hours each week throughout the semester. Each week, you will submit a report of the hours you spent on your project and the work you produced. The time you spend on your SIP project each week includes:

  • Class time
  • Meetings with your contact at the partnering organization
  • Team meetings
  • Individual work

You will be assigned to a project and team at the beginning of the semester before the add/drop deadline. Your project assignment will be based on your internship profile on the on-campus internship website. Your profile on the on-campus internship website will include:

  • Your resume
  • A few questions about your interests
  • Project preferences

By the start of the semester, all project descriptions will be added to the on-campus internship site for you to view. To indicate your project preferences, you will need to rank each project by level of interest by 12 p.m. on the first Friday of the semester. Any rankings after this deadline will not receive priority consideration. Every student is assigned to a project they indicate they are “interested” or “very interested” in.

There are typically three sections of SIP:

  • Social Innovation Projects (primarily working with nonprofits and social ventures)
  • Corporate Social Innovation Projects
  • Impact Investing Social Innovation Projects

After creating an internship profile on the on-campus internship site, you will be able to view all of the upcoming semester’s projects. Students may sign up for any section (typically one through five are SIP sections), but every semester a number of students need to change sections according to their project assignment. We suggest signing up for the section that you are the most interested in based on the descriptions on MyMap. We will let you know if you need to switch your section before the add/drop deadline. All sections hold class on Tuesday or Thursday 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., and will meet together the first Tuesday of the semester.

Meet SIP Students 

I’ve always had a desire to help those around me, but with such a taxing and time-consuming major, chemical engineering, the thought of spending any of my extra hours outside of the library never seemed realistic or beneficial—until I got involved at the Ballard Center.

The Afternoon Dance Parties that Changed My Life

Driving up to a weathered brown apartment building in South Salt Lake, Khinhla, Win Tae, and their brothers rolled down the windows excitedly as I turned up the music. Shattering the silence, we got out and started dancing to the radio. As if anticipating our arrival, the front doors of the apartments facing us swung open and Burmese refugee mothers smiled as their children darted past to join us.

Four BYU students put the brakes on human trafficking in Mexico through the Ballard Center's on-campus Social Innovation Projects. This year, four students developed a model to help Mexican truckers recognize and report instances of human trafficking while on the road. 

Recyclops, a recycling company started by a BYU Marriott grad, teamed up with Ballard Center students to provide an Uber-like recycling service to rural communities. 

I saw first responder vehicles blocking off a whole street near my home. As I got to school, the hustle and bustle of class, homework, and friends consumed my attention and I forgot all about the accident—that is, until second period when the school police officer and counselor escorted me from class to the office. I wracked my brain as to what I had done to deserve the attention of the police.

Since APOPO began, it's rats have detected 105,024 landmines, opening over 21 million square miles of land back to locals who had previously lived in fear. The rats have also detected 11,054 additional tuberculosis cases and screened 402,017 samples for tuberculosis. A group of BYU students did a Social Innovation Project with APOPO and had the chance to work with these life-changing rats.