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Wharton senior Lisa Jiang wanted to take her business education outside of Huntsman Hall and into Philadelphia.

Jiang and four other classmates founded the Social Impact Consulting Group, an organization that offers free consulting services to local non-profit organizations, which include conducting cost analyses and coming up with marketing strategies.

Given the level of need in the Philadelphia community "we can do so much on a local level," Jiang said.

Since its inception a year ago, interest in the club has grown from five to 48 undergraduate members and one to five clients.

Due to the nature of their businesses, non-profit companies are heavily resource-constrained, Wharton and Engineering senior and SIC executive board member Gordon Su said. This is what makes the services of the club so valuable.

"They are just focused on day-to-day survival," he added, which makes planning for the future more difficult.

The club aims not only to help non-profit firms but also to provide a hands-on experience in consulting to its members, who also receive training on non-profit consulting from faculty and consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co.

SIC faculty advisor and Wharton professor Sarah Kaplan said there are more similarities between consulting for non-profit and for-profit firms than people generally expect.

"Every organization struggles with how to be more effective," Kaplan said.

Raising awareness of social issues is another important goal for the club.

Some group members participate in the Think Tank initiative, which conducts research projects on prominent social problems and works to promote awareness through creating publications and hosting events.

Last semester, working for their client Gesu Institute - a group that supports schools in low-income communities - a group of student consultants analyzed the financial performance of the School of Incarnation of Our Lord Parish.

The team found the school in a dire financial situation on the brink of bankruptcy and facing foreclosure at the end of the year 2007.

Coming up with recommendations for the school to increase enrollment and lower purchasing costs, among other things, the student consultants helped to improve the school's financial situation.

Wharton freshman Henry Tai, who worked on the project, said the team was able to visit the school they had helped to revive.

"It was great seeing all our hard work translate into real help," for the children and teachers, he said.

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