Give today to amplify Haas impact in our communities

Talented, passionate leaders choose the Haas School of Business to get their MBAs and to learn to use their skills to solve our toughest social problems.

The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership (CNPL) at Berkeley-Haas prepares students to have social impact across sectors and throughout their lives. Each year, hundreds of Haas MBAs participate on community boards, consult to nonprofit organizations, and get the training they need to solve the kinds of vexing challenges we’ve yet to conquer. Expert faculty – like Paul Jansen, who founded McKinsey & Company’s social sector consulting practice – are in the classroom and in the field to prepare Haas leaders to change the world.

Destiny Arts CenterDestiny Arts Center, in Oakland, has benefited from the work of Berkeley-Haas students through eight years in the Berkeley Board Fellows program. Destiny Arts Center uses dance, theater and martial arts to help youth counter very tough realities – like rape and gang violence. The enclosed picture shows the vitality and optimism that Destiny Arts fosters through their work.

You can ensure our ability to serve organizations like Destiny Arts by making a gift to support CNPL and Berkeley-Haas today. CNPL is 100% self supported – through earned revenue and gifts like yours.

  • A gift of $250 will support one nonprofit in the Berkeley Board Fellows program.
  • A gift of $500 will help us train a student to serve as a Berkeley Board Fellow.
  • A gift of $1,000 will help us assess the impact of a Berkeley Board Fellows project.

Secure Online Giving Site

Imagine the breakthroughs our community can achieve if we leverage the power of a Berkeley-Haas education. Your gift today can make this change happen.




Alumni Spotlight – Scott Orn

scott ornbScott Orn, BS 99
Co-Founder of Ben’s Friends: @bensfriends
Director of Community Products at Callisto Media

Scott Orn, BS 99, receives about 25 “thank you” notes every day. They’re from patients and supporters across the world whose lives have been changed by Ben’s Friends, an online community that he and friend Ben Munoz founded to help people with rare diseases find support and share information.

Seven years ago, as Ben recovered from arteriovenous malformation, a rare brain aneurysm, he could not find a single person who had his condition – offline or online – with whom he could talk and connect. As a result Scott and Ben started the first Ben’s Friends community, It took off immediately. They then started two more communities, and Soon afterward members began volunteering to help moderate and transform the communities into “kind of a mini-Wikipedia.” Today, Ben’s Friends is the second largest rare disease community in the world, with 33 community sites and over 200 volunteer moderators. In October alone it served 125,000 patients and loved ones and is growing about 10% per month.

ben's friends logo“It feels really good to bring so much joy and relief to people across the world,” Scott said. “I could never walk away from that feeling and from the 200+ volunteer moderators who have been on this journey with us. They are the bravest people in the world – choosing to help others while they too are combating their disease.”

Ben’s Friends is also a very efficient nonprofit, with an annual budget of just over $35,000 a year and a waiting list of about 100 communities that people write in asking it to start.

Scott attributes his ability to create such a strong network to his and Ben’s business backgrounds, which have guided their decisions in two ways:

  1. Using Lean Startup methods: They run many little experiments, keep the burn rate low, and invest as much as possible into the ones with positive results. One such project was the Rare Disease Doctors Database, in which a developer donated his time to create a prototype through which patients could find a doctor who was familiar with their condition. The prototype was met with positive responses from the patients, so it was grown into a more functional database.  In fact, liked the Doctors Database project so much, they supported it with a $10,000 grant.
  2. Incorporating organizational behavior principles: They built an organization where volunteer moderators take ownership of their community. The moderators serve as catalysts, greeting new members and policing the community to keep it positive. The moderators then share the best practices within a community of only moderators. Now, Ben’s Friends has an elite group of seasoned moderators who coach and counsel new moderators. Ben’s Friends is organizational behavior for impact, not profit.

Impact of Ben’s Friends

According to the community’s survey, over 75% of the members said that information and relationships they develop on Ben’s Friends positively impacts their treatment decisions. In addition, 80% responded that being part of the Ben’s Friends community makes them feel better and has helped accelerate their recovery.

Scott’s most memorable experience with Ben’s Friends was during one of the nights he was moderating the site, when the nonprofit was still new. He saw a post from a teenager on the East Coast who could not sleep because she had a doctor’s appointment the next morning.

“She was going in for some scary stuff and I knew she needed some kind words,” Scott said. “But before I could type anything, I saw a woman from Australia write back and comfort her. Here were two strangers on different continents connecting in a moment of absolute need. At that moment, I knew Ben’s Friends would help a lot of people.”

Advice for current Haas students

“Use your powers for good. You’ve been blessed with a strong intellect and now through Haas, you have a toolkit to solve tough problems. Make the world a better place. Maybe you’ll make a buck or two, and maybe you won’t. But you’ll wake up every morning knowing you are changing the world and there is no better feeling.”


Ben’s Friend’s Indiegogo fundraiser.

Community Partner Spotlight – YMCA of San Francisco

ymcaYMCA of San Francisco

With a focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility, the YMCA of San Francisco strives to nurture the potential of every youth, improves the bay area’s health and well-being, and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  The YMCA of SF builds strong kids, strong families and strong communities by enriching the lives of all people in spirit, mind and body.

To achieve their mission, The YMCA of SF has embarked on reaching an ambitious Vision and in order to do so they knew that they needed an external analysis of both partnership and defined structure around what it means to be healthy.  They sought the expertise The Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership and worked with two of the Center’s signature programs, Berkeley Board Fellows (BBF) and Social Sector Solutions (S3).

What is the YMCA of SF’s 2020 Vision?

“The healthiest children in America will live in the Bay Area, building the skills and habits for a healthy life, being empowered to reach their highest potential and make valuable contributions to society through the strength of the communities the YMCA of SF serves.”  Read more about the YMCA’s Vision as well as their 2014-2017 Strategic Plan.

Involvement with the Center

“We were fortunate enough to have two projects with the Center.  Both projects [were] very different but both heavily impacting the future of our work and future impact on the communities we serve”, states Marketing and Communications Executive, Jane Packer.

The Social Sector Solutions (S3) project also contributed to the Y’s strategic planning process by assisting the organization perform high level diagnostics of child health in the Bay Area, as well as identify priority areas for improvement. Because the YMCA is a complex organization with many partnership throughout the organization, its branch structure leads to local and city-wide partnerships which sometimes can overlap. The S3 analyzed this partnership landscape, which in turn led the YMCA of SF to a pilot collective impact initiative with its focus on “An Early Start to the Healthiest Self.” Through this initiative, the YMCA of SF could examine current and future partnerships to determine their fit. The S3 project, in creating the initiative, helped the organization understand the landscape of effort already underway in the Bay Area and that in order to be successful in collective impact, complementary partnerships are key.

The work of S3 has helped us to leverage a network approach through identifying stakeholders and common need in communities we serve,”  says Chuck Collins, President and CEO, YMCA of San Francisco.

The Berkeley Board Fellows (BBF) program assisted the YMCA of SF in defining the key dimensions of physical, social-emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being that characterize the “healthiest children” – an integral piece of the strategic planning process. Working with the organization’s staff, the BBF team developed a logic model to help the organization determine how to clarify its intended impact and the relationships between inputs, activities and desired outputs, and outcomes.   This logic model has since served as the guidepost when thinking about existing and future YMCA programs.