Research Hub for Collaborative Innovation

Today’s major global challenges require coordination action across the non-profit, government and private sectors.  The SE@UVA Research Hub for Collaborative Innovation’s mission is to advance our understanding of impactful collaborative models and to provide guidance to social entrepreneurs seeking to build highly functioning and effective cross-sector partnerships. We do this through 4 separate labs including:



The University of Virginia Pay for Success Lab provides research assistance to state and local stakeholders that wish to accelerate their Pay for Success (PFS) initiatives. Students provide the research assistance needed to determine if a pay for success model is feasible in a given area. PFS is an innovative financing mechanism that measurably improves the lives of those in our communities. With PFS, private funding is used to scale-up effective service providers in areas such as supportive housing, youth employment, and juvenile justice. If, and only if, the program meets its objectives, the government repays the upfront investment. The application period for the 2016-17' school year is closed. 


Many social entrepreneurs are working in regulated markets from energy to education to healthcare. Innovative, outside-the-box solutions often run up against status quo policy and current regulations can present hurdles to system change. At the same time social entrepreneurs within government are often looking for innovative market-based solutions and public-private partnerships to tackle social problems. The National Policy Breakthrough Lab pairs small teams of students with social entrepreneurs from across the country to unlock scaling opportunities through collective action. This year we have teams working with the U.S. Water Partnership, a public private partnership of over 200 non-profits, corporations and government agencies to advance access to clean water globally. We are also working with the Global Emergency Group, a profit-for-purpose enterprise supporting humanitarian aid organizations including UNOCHA, USAID, WFP, ECHO, among others, to streamline supply chains, innovate financing, and measure impact to improve humanitarian relief worldwide. To work in the National Policy Breakthrough Lab, enroll in the undergraduate (PPOL 4735) or graduate-level (PPOL 6730) spring semester Experiential Social Entrepreneurship courses taught by Christine Mahoney, Director of SE@UVa.


UVA’s hometown of Charlottesville provides a number of opportunities for students to get involved in social innovation. Students working small teams with local social innovators – including projects on the newly designated Strategic Investment Area and Office of Economic Development projects on Return on Investment calculations for new job readiness programs. SE@UVa is organizing Charlottesville Cross-Sector Consultancy opportunities that will start in the spring. 


The Philanthropy Lab is a for-credit workshop that investigates the role of non-profit organizations in the policy process. Through a partnership with the Adiuvans Foundation and the Once Upon a Time Foundation, the lab has made $405,000 in grants to non-profit organizations since 2012. Students interested in the lab can enroll in PPOL4725 (Martin & McLean), open to all UVA students or PPOL4991 (Martin), limited to Batten majors..

If interested in working in one of the labs,
please submit your resume.