Penn gymnast Sarah Allen goes green

Sara Allan used a passion for the environment to start a website and company

· January 24, 2012, 10:49 pm   ·  Updated January 27, 2012, 1:06 am

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Patrick Hulce | DP

Freshman Sara Allen (waving) started a firm called Clout Consulting, which will work with nonprofit environmental organizations on social media optimization.


A poster bestrewn with motivational bullet points hangs prominently on the Penn gymnastics team’s corkboard in Hutchinson Gym. The last two bullets read, “Your success will start when you begin to pursue it. Take it.”

Sara Allan has heeded those words.

A first-year environmental studies major, Allan has launched an eco-blog, a website on sustainability and most recently, a social media consulting firm for environmental non-profit organizations.

Allan’s interest in the environment began at an early age. A third-grade trip to the Galapagos Islands sparked an intrigue with her surroundings, and mentorship from a grade school science teacher kindled that flame.

“That trip was really inspiring, just learning about nature,” Allan said. “I’m from New York City, so I didn’t really have that many experiences in a natural environment.”

Despite being surrounded by concrete and asphalt on all sides, Allan actively sought out ways to become an involved environmentalist. Apart from running her high school’s Environmental Club and being the Director of Social Media for the Green Schools Alliance, Allan’s pursuits were largely entrepreneurial.

“I started [The Green Blog] in January of my senior year as an independent project,” she said. “And then I realized that there were like a million environmental blogs and nobody was ever really going to read it.

“The point was to widen my audience from just high school. So I started using social media to advertise my blog.”

Experts’ Opinions on Sustainability, Allan’s second project, emerged from her concern with the lack of unity amongst environmentalist bloggers. According to Allan, the movement would be more successful if there were more group efforts in the environmentalist community. EOS is intended to facilitate such partnerships.

“I asked 10 environmentalist bloggers to collaborate on questions so we could create a real discussion rather than people posting on their blogs and having it be a one-sided thing.”

Her latest undertaking, Clout Consulting, launched during winter break. Several green organizations contacted Allen about helping them with social media outreach, but she was unable to work with the companies individually.

“I got like five internship offers, which I obviously couldn’t take. So I figured if I turned it into a company, I could charge them and take on all of them at the same time,” she explained.

Clout aims to increase organizations’ online following and impact on the sustainability movement.

In addition to managing and operating three different projects, Allan also serves as Ware House Leader for Eco-Reps and heads the political committee of the Penn Environmental Group. Currently, Allan is working on a Green Fund Grant to replace paper towel dispensers on campus with hand dryers.

Other hats she wears include, but are not limited to, gymnast and student.

“She works very hard in the gym, does well with her academics and is very goal-oriented,” Penn gymnastics coach John Ceralde said.

On keeping up with all of her pursuits, Allan said, “You just sort of do it. It’s not as hard as people think — it just takes a bunch of time.”

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