Three Penn Undergraduate Summer Associates Help to Affect Effective Philanthropy

Jill DiSanto | jdisanto@upenn.edu | 215-898-4820
Monday, July 27, 2015

This summer, three undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania are studying the best ways to research and promote effective charitable giving. 

As summer associates with the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, Lisa Shmulyan from Eden Prairie, Minn., Amber Hu from Acton, Calif., and Bobby Lundquist of Wynnewood, Pa., are using data, research and social media to help donors achieve greater social good. 

CHIP, a collaboration between the School of Social Policy & Practice and Wharton School alumni, develops independent tools and resources to assist donors to make effective charitable decisions. 

As soon as Shmulyan, a rising sophomore, heard about the Center, she knew that she wanted to intern there. 

“I’ve always wanted to go into a field with some kind of positive impact and working at CHIP has confirmed this belief,” Shmulyan says. 

After working there, she now has a better idea of what the future holds and knows that what she wants to do involves social enterprise. 

“The social entrepreneurship model of applying business practices to solve societal problems is such an inspiring and innovative idea,” she says. 

While Shmulyan researched social impact bonds, impact investing and program-related investments this summer, she says her most important work was creating a spreadsheet compiling information about the foundations involved in treating drug and alcohol addictions while preparing for the release of CHIP’s upcoming guide

The guide, “Lifting the Burden of Addiction: Philanthropic opportunities to address substance use disorders in the United States,” will show donors ways to save lives through meeting basic needs, preventing overdoses, increasing access to evidence-based treatment, improving care through policy changes and developing tools for prevention and treatment. It is scheduled to be released in September. 

As an intern she writes for the School’s Impact magazine, and she divides her time between serving on the think tank of the Social Entrepreneurship Movement or PennSEM, volunteering as a member of the student board for the Institute of Contemporary Art and mentoring young people through the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project

As the Center’s communications, design and information technology summer associate, Amber Hu edits and formats various materials, as well as manages its Twitter account, search engine optimization and website maintenance.

Hu is rising senior and a cognitive science major in the School of Arts & Sciences. She is earning a minor in fine arts from the School of Design and in computer science through the School of Engineering and Applied Science

“Being an undergraduate and participating in research gives meaning to your work,” Hu says. “It’s meaningful when you know the final product is going to help others.” 

She admits knowing very little about the non-profit sector when she started but has learned that there is a lot involved in producing the kind of work the Center does. 

“I never really considered the non-profit sector as something that intersected with my professional interests, but there’s a lot more to it than I originally thought,” Hu says. “There are so many opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of others, and that’s something that has become more important to me.”

Her most memorable project this summer was promotion of CHIP’s Twitter account, @ImpactSP2, which has reached 5,000 followers. 

“Communicating the work you’ve done and spreading it to the people who are looking for it is a crucial part of the process,” says Hu, who works in tandem with Bobby Lundquist to promote the Center’s work through social media. 

Lundquist is a senior philosophy, politics and economics major in Penn Arts & Sciences who has been involved with CHIP since 2013, when he began working with the Center’s social media communications and analysis team. 

He’s also a resident advisor for the freshmen living in Fisher-Hassenfeld College House; the president of One in Four, a male advocacy group focused on sexual violence prevention; and a disc jockey at WQHS, a student-run radio station.  

This summer, he’s continued to work with CHIP, examining trends in data tracking social media analytics, and he’s adapted different online engagement practices. He has also been focused on projects examining early childhood education, disaster recovery after the earthquakes in Nepal and being able to leverage capital investments alongside grants. 

Lundquist says the most satisfying part of his internship has been growing as a professional and becoming a flexible, effective team player able to adapt to changing circumstances. 

Lisa Shmulyan, Bobby Lundquist and Amber Hu

Lisa Shmulyan, Bobby Lundquist and Amber Hu