This winter, two Fordham students will join students from nine other New York City universities to create an innovative solution for one of the city’s toughest problems.

Sean Sullivan, a senior at the Gabelli School of Business, and Margaret Desmond, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, were selected to take part in Innovate NYC, a collaboration between New York City universities and the DO School. The DO School, which is based in New York and Germany, supports the spreading of social impact and innovation by committed individuals and organizations. The initiative is supported by the Newman’s Own Foundation.

For seven months, Sullivan and Desmond will attend sessions at the DO School that focus on entrepreneurial methods and techniques for effecting genuine change. The students will be tasked with the “The Shared Resource Challenge,” a challenge developed in cooperation with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, to create an innovative product or service that improves access to critical resources for nonprofits and social enterprises in New York City.

Ron Jacobson, PhD, associate vice president in the Office of the Provost, said the innovative collaboration, which also features Columbia University, The Cooper Union and The New School, will provide an opportunity for students to learn outside of the classroom.  Fordham committed to this exact kind of experience when it was designated in April 2014 as an Ashoka “Changemaker campus.”

“Students can come out of Fordham with not only knowledge and  values, but also real world skills and engagement with the community, and having worked with others to  learn processes and help find solutions to significant social  problems,” he said.

Desmond, an anthropology and philosophy double major who also is in the pre-med program, said she applied to the program because she hopes to eventually work for a non-profit in the medical sector.

“It’s a chance to meet a lot of people who are involved in innovative programs and try to learn from them and make those connections, and to spend time with people creating something tangible and positive,” she said.

Sullivan said he was intrigued by networking possibilities, as well as the experiential education that the DO School offers. While at Fordham, he has majored in finance and interned for the Environmental Defense Fund.

“I want to shift more toward social innovation and being a social entrepreneur. Even if it’s not right after graduation, I want to have that mindset throughout my career,” he said.

“It’s great that we can get all these schools together, because we are all in similar situations.”


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.