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MBA Students Chose CARE’s HerSkills as Recipient of $110,000 in Unique Partnership with Lever for Change: More to Come in 2023

February 01, 2023

In a unique partnership between Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Columbia Business School’s  Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, and Lever for Change, MBA students will apply classroom learning to award over $100,000 to a nonprofit organization.

Melissa Berman, founding President and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, teaches a six-week course beginning each January that exposes business school students to the inner workings of the world of philanthropy. The class, which has featured as guest presenters philanthropic leaders from the Bill & Melinda Gates, Tiffany & Co., Robert Wood Johnson, Rockefeller and Libra foundations, as well as Hispanics in Philanthropy, Schmidt Futures and others, highlights the importance of understanding how philanthropy can impact social, economic, and environmental needs and developments.

Utilizing the knowledge and skills gained from practitioner presentations and classroom projects, the Global Philanthropy course students form teams that analyze potential contenders. Those contenders are from top proposals submitted for 100&Change and other global competition prizes of $10 million to $100 million managed by Lever for Change, an affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In this process, each team weighs projects on 10 key criteria, including their capacity for driving systems change, having a rights/equity lens, being participatory and exhibiting innovation, and then makes a recommendation in a presentation to the full class. Once the presentations are complete, the students vote to collectively choose one applicant that best fulfils  all the criteria.

The most recent award, chosen by 64 students from a total of 13 presented proposals, provided $110,000 in general operating support to HerSkills, a CARE program that focuses on helping women refugees in Turkey overcome discrimination in workplaces. HerSkills provides seed capital through interest-free loans, and conducts skills training relating to finance, business and language skills, as well as provides mentorship programs.

Some of the reasons for the students’ high regard for the HerSkills program include that the initiative:

  • Works to create social cohesion between refugees and host communities.
  • Has already provided over 2,000 women with business and language learning since 2019.
  • Addresses root causes preventing women refugees from succeeding in business.

As the 2023 Global Philanthropy course cohort begins, its journey will extend beyond classroom education and theoretical engagement with philanthropy. One of the key benefits of this course is that it provides an opportunity for students to roll up their sleeves and, through thoughtful analysis and with support of experienced philanthropic professionals, personally contribute to meaningful, real-world impact. This is a lesson that will likely reverberate for a lifetime. Whether these graduates move into leadership roles in the private sector, public service or philanthropy, this experience so graciously supported by Lever for Change as well as private donors will give them a greater awareness of career paths that center social impact, as well as insights to start them on a lifelong path to thoughtfully and effectively accelerate transformative change worldwide.


More information:

Lever for Change is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation affiliate, whose mission is to unlock significant philanthropic capital and accelerate social change around the world’s most pressing challenges. Lever for Change helps philanthropists source vetted, high-impact opportunities in two ways: by designing and managing customized competitions and by matching them with the top vetted proposals from all of its competitions in the Bold Solutions Network, a searchable online database. To learn more, please visit

The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School trains the next generation of leaders to address social and environmental challenges. The center provides a framework for students to think in broader terms about their role in business and society and equips them with the skills, knowledge, and experience to respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Graduates draw on their expertise and talents to achieve social impact throughout their careers as business leaders addressing public policy and environmental issues, and as philanthropists, civic leaders, and directors of charitable organizations. To learn more, please visit

Photo by Daniel Chicchon on Unsplash

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