Cal Students Making an Impact in the Social Sector

Students interacting with BBF nonprofit partners.

Berkeley Board Fellows (BBF) and Social Sector Solutions (S3) are two community-based programs offered by the Berkeley Haas School of Business that help organizations deepen their social impact while providing MBA and graduate students an experiential learning opportunity. Both programs are accepting applications at this time and would like to hear from you!

The Berkeley Board Fellows program is, at its core, about board excellence. Selected nonprofits simultaneously meet a critical board need, and provide a learning environment for future board leaders. Two grad students join the board as non-voting members. They complete a project through a board committee and receive insight into board service from a mentor.

Two fellows will be selected to serve on the board and will be assigned to lead a board committee project. BBF projects fall into 1 of the 4 categories:

  1. Performance measurement/assessment
  2. Business strategy/planning
  3. Financial Management
  4. Marketing
Ben Mangan speaking at the BBF Kickoff.

Some sample projects from past Fellowships include:

  • Research and analyze three earned income ideas to support the core mission.
  • Determine appropriate pricing for two after school programs.
  • Develop social media strategy recommendations to increase effectiveness of the organization’s profile.
  • Develop a board member dashboard to compile and display data to track progress on a new strategic plan.

The Social Sector Solutions program partners student consulting teams with nonprofit organizations to tackle tough strategic questions. The student teams are guided by experienced coaches from McKinsey & Company.

A team of five students will be selected to assist these nonprofit organizations through an in-depth, 15 week consulting project. These projects are not limited to the Bay Area.

Speaker at the S3 Finale.

Some examples of previous S3 projects include:

  • Develop a national program expansion strategy
  • 10-year program impact evaluation.
  • Brand evaluation and improvement recommendations.
  • Create a sustainable financial model for a program or organization.

Below is a quick snapshot of the key differences between the two programs:


  • 2 fellows serve jointly
  • Oct — May (7 months;8 hrs/month)
  • Located in the Bay Area
  • Provides board member training
  • 30 nonprofits
  • Free


  • 5 person consulting team
  • January — May (15 weeks)
  • Any location (incl. int’l)
  • Provides team coach
  • 10 nonprofits
  • Fee-based (sliding scale)

Which program is right for you? Ask yourself this: If we were not accepted into one of these programs, who would be tasked with executing the project?

If the answer is “another board member,” Berkeley Board Fellows may be right for you.

If the answer is “an external consultant/firm,” Social Sector Solutions is probably the best fit.

Panel at the S3 Finale.

Full program details and applications can be found at the Berkeley Board Fellows or Social Sector Solutions program pages. Questions related to these programs can be directed to:

Berkeley Board Fellows: Cathy Garza at

Social Sector Solutions: Andrik Cardenas at