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Creating an Impact Ecosystem at the University of Utah: A Conversation With Sorenson Impact Institute’s Chad Salvadore 

Imagine an ecosystem where students and professionals live and learn together, connected by their interest in creating a positive impact in the world. That’s the goal of the Impact & Prosperity Epicenter, opening in the fall of 2024 in the heart of the University of Utah campus. In addition to being the new home for impact practitioners, including the Sorenson Impact Institute and the Center for Business, Health, and Prosperity, this state-of-the-art building will provide residential living for nearly 800 students. The Epicenter will offer unparalleled programming that draws on the collective expertise and passion of students, thought leaders and practitioners to empower the next generation of changemakers.

Sorenson Impact Institute’s Chief Financial Officer Chad Salvadore oversees preparations for the Epicenter. “The ultimate goal of the Epicenter is that it’s not simply a place to live but a place to create a dynamic living-learning ecosystem that is a destination for changemakers from across the globe,” Salvadore says. In this Q&A, he shares more about this exciting new building and the opportunities it will create to foster impact at the University of Utah and beyond.

Where did the idea for the Epicenter come from? What is the ultimate goal?

The Epicenter began with the simple but powerful question, “How can we inspire and equip young leaders to do good?” There is so much demand from students today urging us to do better as a society, and they are a critical part of creating the solutions to the problems we face. Pairing that ambition with the expertise of practitioners from a range of disciplines and geographies creates a powerful combination for change.

What opportunities will this immersive living environment foster for the 800 students who reside there?

There will be a wide variety of programming for Epicenter residents that draws on building connections between students, thought leaders, and practitioners. Program offerings will include an impact and prosperity speaker series, solve-a-thons, purpose-driven socials, impact investing pitches, case competitions, film screenings, music nights, and more. Residents will have a unique opportunity to be part of a community of students and professionals driven by a shared vision for the betterment of people and the planet.

How will this new location benefit Sorenson Impact Institute’s student program and students more broadly across the University?

Although we are early in our application process, we already have more than 50 majors represented in the pool of resident applicants. I think this is so inspiring. It showcases the diversity of perspectives that will be represented at the Epicenter and the universality of the desire to utilize one’s skills for the betterment of people and the planet. Whether you are a finance student who wants to structure clean-energy transactions or a chemistry major who wants to scale science-based interventions into the mainstream, the Epicenter welcomes students from across campus, schools, and majors.

How will the Epicenter create an impact ecosystem at the University of Utah and beyond?

There are no simple solutions to the critical issues our world faces. To have a meaningful impact, it takes an ecosystem approach. The Epicenter draws on the collective expertise of impact investors, prosperity thought leaders, entrepreneurs, health professionals, policy experts, and applied researchers, to name a few. This is combined with the broad diversity of students from across campus. Together, these create a dynamic ecosystem for change that embraces our connectedness to each other and the world around us. The building itself is designed around the concept of a watering hole — a vital space for gathering that acts as a hub for connection and diversity built for the next generation of leaders.

What elements of the Epicenter are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about being immersed among so many passionate students. Just reading through the responses of the applicants is incredibly inspiring. There are so many amazing stories and innovative ideas that I can’t wait to bring all of these inspirational applicants together into one place and watch them help us build a better future.

Student housing applications for the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter are open for the 2024-25 school year — learn more and apply here!

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