Applebaum Family Philanthropy and Guests Guide +Impact Studio Founders and Applebaum Design Fellows During Special Visit

On Friday, December 9, 2022, representatives from Applebaum Family Philanthropy, Applebaum Ventures, and three expert advisors came to the +Impact Studio to provide feedback and advice to UM students in the +Impact Studio Founders and Applebaum Impact Design Fellows programs. Applebaum Family Philanthropy was represented by Pamela Applebaum (CEO & President of Applebaum Ventures and Applebaum Family Philanthropy), Andrew Echt (Chief Operating Officer of Applebaum Ventures and Director of Applebaum Family Philanthropy), Gabe Scharg (Director of Investments for Applebaum Ventures), and Julia Bleznak (Director of Applebaum Fellows and Community Development for Applebaum Family Philanthropy). Their guests included Veronika Scott (Founder and CEO of the Empowerment Plan), Kiana Wenzell (Co-Executive Director of Design Core Detroit), and Josh Sklar (Senior Product Manager at StockX).

Students Jarrad Henderson and Alex Perez-Garcia share ideas with Kiana Wenzell and Pamela Applebaum.

Students and professionals, and Business+Impact staffers began the day at 10 am with a hearty breakfast and mingling. This was followed by welcoming remarks from Business+Impact Faculty Director Jerry Davis, Managing Director Cat Johnson, and +Impact Studio Program Manager Loren Townes Jr., who facilitated introductions and descriptions of the student-led venture teams. Then student teams  met with Applebaum Family Philanthropy reps and guests in a round-robin series of breakouts. Students described where their ventures are, where they hope to go, and the challenges/goals through which they are working. Applebaum Family Philanthropy reps and their guests offered guidance, experience, and support. The event concluded around noon with final remarks and info-sharing.

This was all part of a special Community Coworking Friday called “Idea Day.”  These Coworking Fridays are designed to incubate and nurture innovative ideas and projects related to social impact — from taking ideas from concept to prototype to scale. Each week, student founders meet in the +Impact Studio to work on their ventures; collaborate on ideas; consult with Applebaum Impact Design fellows, faculty, staff, and special guests; and support one another. These Community Coworking Friday sessions have been extremely beneficial to the +Impact Studio entrepreneurial teams, positively impacting their social venture journey and even helping them unlock new insights.  Many students also say the sessions have assisted them in overcoming the unique challenges that solo entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams can face.

Current student ventures include:

Pop Up Docs aims to democratize visual storytelling by centering and educating diverse creators while building a capable community of talented, experienced, and influential storytellers. Founder: Jarrad Henderson (2023 Knight Wallace Fellow); Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Alex Perez-Garcia (MBA/MPP 2024)

PILs Ventures seeks to cultivate generational health-and-wealth for one million people in the Black, Latinx, and other historically overlooked communities across STEM fields by 2033. Founder: George Okpamen (MBA 2023);  Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Grace Sanders (BBA 2023)

Bubble! Learn Science looks to improve the scientific  literacy skills of low-resource high school students and empower them to succeed in STEM careers. Founder: Rafee Mirza (LSA 2025); Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Kelsey Hewett (MBA 2023)

Lifeboat is currently facilitating easier, safer, and more affordable gender-affirming medical procedures in the U.S. and abroad. Lifeboat believes that by building the infrastructure needed to facilitate domestic medical tourism, providers across the U.S. will be forced into cost competition, leading to better, higher quality, more affordable medical care for all Americans. Founder: Sasha Kolodkin (MSI/MBA 2024); Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Carly Fink (MBA 2023)

Students George Okpamen and Grace Sanders share their plans with Gabe Scharg and Josh Sklar.

La Onda looks to create and foster community for Latinx individuals and reduce barriers to accessing mental health resources. Founder: Christian Ilarraza Colón (MBA/MPP 2023); Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Alejandra Fuentes (MPP 2023)

G2G: Grow Together eases the financial and emotional burden of individuals experiencing major life hardships (divorce, infertility, caregiving, life-threatening ailment) by offering an app-based platform with 1:1 financial coaching, financial education modules that uses story-telling & behavior change principles, and a community support forum.  Founder: Yasmin Abdulhadi (MBA 2023) Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Bridgit Jung (IS 2025)

CliMates goal is to have ten million people invested into climate action through time, energy and money by 2030. Co-Founders: Akhila Kosaraju (M.Des 2023), Isha Goel (MS Corporate Sustainability 2022) & Chris Okumura (BS, Electronics 2022);  Applebaum Impact Design Fellow: Grace Sanders (BBA 2023)


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