Philanthropy U: Magnet for Aspiring Leaders Worldwide

By Laura D. Tyson

Philanthropy University, the global online training program for social sector leaders that is anchored at Berkeley-Haas, has achieved even more in its first six months than most of us dared hope.

The first seven courses, offered through a partnership between the Stars Foundation and Berkeley-Haas, attracted more than 200,000 registrations within weeks after launching.

That was just the start. Total enrollments have since doubled to 412,844, with nearly 200,000 unique users enrolling in an average of two courses each.

Beyond the topline numbers, new data shows a remarkable geographic range in the untapped demand for professional training in leadership skills, organizational management, financing and scaling up of organizations committed to social impact.

We had enrollees from 193 nations. Of 18,000 enrollees who provided geographic data, 13.5% came from the United States but the nine other top ten countries of origin were in Africa and Asia. Nigeria accounted for 1,689 enrollees, or 9.2%. India provided 1,395, or 7.6%.   The remaining top 10 nations were Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Ghana, Bangladesh, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

We had always hoped to attract students from a wide diversity of students, especially from low-income nations, but even we were surprised by the breadth of the response.

Philanthropy University offers training through “MOOC’s,” or “massive open online courses.” Each course runs for six weeks and is taught by a respected professional in his or her field. Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, the world’s first peer-to-peer micro-lending site, teaches a course on global social entrepreneurship. Paul Brest, former president of the Hewlett Foundation, teaches a class on nonprofit strategy. Shashi Buluswar, an international consultant and instructor at Berkeley-Haas, teaches a course on scaling up social impact ventures.

Survey responses from about 100 “super-learners,” who completed all seven courses and earned a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from Berkeley-Haas, show that many were already well along in their professional careers. Affiliations were fairly evenly split: 25% come from the non-profit sector while 25% work at for-profit corporations; 20% work at for-profit social entities; 10% in government; and 3% in academia.

The past six months clearly demonstrate that Philanthropy University has identified a hunger on every continent for professional training in the social impact arena.

In 2016, Philanthropy University will build on its base of active students and gradually expand its offerings. We will be offering each of the seven original courses four times this year. In the fall, after analyzing feedback from students and social-sector professionals, we will be adding four additional courses.

In the meantime, we have already confirmed that students placed a very high value on PU’s interactive online forums, in which students can engage directly with instructors and each other.

That was part of our concept: to serve an open-source innovation hub in which people in different nations, working on different issues, could exchange knowledge and collaborate on innovative solutions. Expect to see more activity on this front.

Our long-term goal is to empower a generation of leaders who can ultimately improve life for countless millions of people.   Judging from the response so far, Philanthropy University is on the right track.












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