Institute for Social Innovation

“All people are entrepreneurs but many don’t have the opportunity to find that out.” (Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank and Nobel Laureate)


Established in 2006 and housed at the Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) is a multi-disciplinary institute providing CMU students, faculty, and researchers with a variety of applied learning opportunities to design, prototype, and launch financially sustainable ventures and initiatives for social good. In addition, the ISI conducts applied research projects to generate new insights that advance the field of social innovation. These activities are reinforced by the CMU’s interdisciplinary and analytical approach to problem solving, leverages the Heinz College’s expertise and influence in technology, policy, and management, and supports the our mission of “educating men and women for intelligent action.”

The Institute for Social Innovation supports social venture development at CMU in five areas:

Our students have gone on to launch a number of globally recognized social ventures as well as leadership positions in organizations such as Ashoka, Echoing Green, and USAID.
The ISI is directed by Professor Tim Zak who has spent over 25 years leading global organizations, advising executives in the public, private, and social sectors, and speaking to social innovation audiences around the world.