Frequently Asked Questions


What is a social venture, and how does it relate to social entrepreneurship?

There are many different definitions and considerations for defining a social venture or enterprise. At the TFC, we define a social venture as a business or organization using a market approach to address a social or environmental problem. Depending on the context, social ventures can include any organization that uses market solutions to address pervasive social challenges – including Corporate Social Responsibility, consulting, non-profit management, etc. Social ventures can be created using social entrepreneurship where resources are newly combined to solve an identified environmental or social problem. The value of social entrepreneurship is gained when the combination of resources is more valuable together than those resources alone or in another configuration. 

What is social innovation?

“Social innovation is the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress.”

Social innovation applies the methodology of innovation typically seen in the technology and product development sectors to creating solutions for social and environmental problems. At the TFC, we partner with organizations locally and globally to identify root problems and innovate towards progress in social change. Additionally, we partner with Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center – the Wond’ry ( – to sponsor events and competitions focused on social innovation.


What are useful resources to learn more about social ventures?

The Social Impact space is wide and varied. If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend attending our introductory lecture, “What is a Social Enterprise?” hosted by Vanderbilt faculty member Kendall Park, and browsing the following:

Skoll Foundation: 

Net Impact: 

Stanford Social Innovation Review: 



Impact Investment Tracker: 

Media Platform for Global Development: 

Social Impact Resources: 

Social Good Stuff: 

Social Enterprise Alliance: 

featuring our Director, Mario –

Additionally, see our “reading list” for further learning.


What is the purpose of the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures?

The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures is an interdisciplinary, student-led organization committed to developing socially and environmentally conscious leaders and doers. We prepare our students to drive systemic, impactful change through market-driven forces and enterprise. We provide resources and opportunities to leverage and combine the individual strengths of Vanderbilt University graduate students, faculty, and business partners.

We educate, challenge, and create moral and ethical leaders who will apply their learnings as a student and community member of Vanderbilt University, and in their lives and professional careers. We work with students to understand their skills and how they can impact the world, while building new skills and asking students to think critically about their current and future impact. 

Watch our Director speak with Jeremy C. Park about the TFC here:

Why is Vanderbilt supporting this kind of center for graduate students?

The Turner Family Center is unique in its access to members of all graduate schools across Vanderbilt University. There was a gap to be filled in welcoming all graduate students to develop leadership skills, apply learnings, and consider impact. The TFC capitalizes on the incredible resources and opportunities provided by a world-class academic institution to bring people together to do just those things – connect, engage, learn, and lead. We believe that varying perspectives and interdisciplinary conversations are where deeper connections and critical thinking thrive.


What programs does the TFC offer?

We offer a wide range of programming from lectures to case competitions and local non-profit consulting to international immersion trips. Check out our “Students” page for more details.


I have an idea for a social venture, who do I talk to?

That’s awesome! Come chat with us about it! The TFC offers career consulting through our full-time staff, Mario Avila and Kathleen Fuchs Hritz. Mario has first-hand experience in launching businesses, and we have a close working relationship with Vanderbilt’s Center for Design and Innovation, the Wond’ry, which offers additional coaching, tools, and resources to transform your idea into a reality.


I want to partner with the TFC.

We love engaging with new partners, organizations, and ideas. Check out our “Partners” page and connect with Mario Avila or Kathleen Fuchs Hritz.



Do I need to apply to become a member of the TFC? What does it mean to be a member of the TFC?

TFC programming is open to all members of the Vanderbilt community and some programming is open to the public. No applications are necessary to join our TFC community and connect with members, attend social events, and engage in career development. We enjoy welcoming students from across varying communities, and lean on our student-led ideology to pursue ideas presented by anybody wanting to be involved. 

For specific cohorts, programs, case competitions, course offerings, and leadership positions applications are required to be considered for participation. 


How can I get involved?

The TFC focuses on four ways to be involved – connect, engage, learn, and lead. Each has a different level of commitment, but any involvement makes you part of the TFC community. Join our “newsletter” to hear from leadership and about upcoming events and follow us on “Instagram” and “LinkedIn” for announcements.

Meet our current leadership and hear what they have planned for this coming year on our “Leadership” page.

If you don’t know where to start, reach out to our Director, Mario, or Assistant Director, Kathleen, to chat about your interests and they’ll help you out!


I am an undergraduate student. Can I be a part of the TFC? If so, what kind of programming can I be a part of?

Welcome! Though the TFC has, in prior years, been predominantly geared towards graduate students, there has been an effort to connect more with undergraduate students. There are some programming events that will inevitably be catered to only graduate students, however, there are plenty of opportunities for undergraduates to get involved with the TFC as well! For example, the Hult Case Competition that the TFC hosts annually is a great chance to build solutions to some of the most difficult social enterprise issues. In the past years, some topics included: climate change, youth employment, energy conservation, etc. Additionally, Mario holds office hours that are a great resource for any student. With our efforts to gradually incorporate more undergraduate students in the TFC’s programming, we hope to update this list more and more.