Social Impact Challenge

Key Dates:

  • Oct 19-21: Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint
  • Nov 3: Ecosystem Mapping Workshop
  • November: Team Interest & Formation
  • December: Flint Visit & Design Workshops
  • Late January: Kick-off & Work Begins
  • Mid-February: Finals


Each winter term students from a dozen U-M schools and colleges tackle a pressing cross-sector social issue currently facing the city of Detroit in this deep-dive competition. Finalists present their recommendations before a panel of community leaders, and the winning proposal receives a monetary award.

Past partners – including Education Pioneers, Detroit Future City, the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office, and Detroit PAL – have implemented the winning teams’ proposals.

The 2017 Social Impact Challenge will be focused on economic development and entrepreneurship in the city of Flint, MI. Attend the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium, Oct. 19-21, in preparation for the challenge to learn more from community leaders about the challenges and opportunities in the city!



The Social Impact Challenge is an opportunity for students to collaborate on multidisciplinary teams to tackle strategic issues for a social impact organization in a competitive consulting-style environment. Participants have the opportunity to:

  • Apply skills and classroom learning to social issues in Detroit
  • Impact a Detroit organization that is making a difference in the community
  • Collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of students from across U-M
  • Engage in dialogue and practical problem-solving with mission-driven leaders




In 2016, students tackled strategic and operational questions to help launch Detroit PAL‘s Kids At the Corner Campaign in partnership with the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which involves the redevelopment of the historic field.  The 2015 teams designed proposals for the redevelopment of Fisher Body Plant 21 in Detroit’s North End, infusing arts and culture, sustainability, community, and economic development. The 2014 partner was Detroit Future City (DFC), which is leading implementation of the DFC Strategic Framework, a comprehensive plan to achieve fiscal sustainability and improve quality of life for all Detroiters. That 2014 Challenge focused on strategies to improve transportation access for Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Visit all of our past challenges or click some of the links below: