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Center for Social Entrepreneurship

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As Detroit’s rebirth marches on, entrepreneurship has proven to be the best fuel for the economic engine and a powerful tool to innovatively address social issues. In response, there is a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurial support programs throughout the region.  Detroit Mercy works with these partners and plays a critical role in this ecosystem by leading the social entrepreneurship movement.     

We develop the capacity of businesses that not only desire to make a profit but also aspire to create social good and impact within their community.  We believe that drawing upon healthy and innovative business techniques to find economically sustainable solutions to social issues will create a more just and equitable society for Detroit.  We do this while promoting the Jesuit and Mercy values and ethics that enliven our institution.  

For more information about the CSE, contact us at 313-993-1189 or

Boost 4 Launched and Boost 5 Applications Now Being Accepted!

The 4th cohort of our Boost program started on November 9th, 2017 and will conclude in February, 2018 with the customary pitch night.  The date and time of the February Pitch Night hasn't been determined yet.  Follow us on Facebook, or join our email list below to get notifications.

Applications for Boost 5 are now being accepted.  Boost 5 will begin in the fall of 2018.  Seats are extremely limited so don't wait to apply.  For more information, click on the link below.  Boost applications can be accessed and completed here. Reserve your spot today!

Join our email list for updates, connections to resources, and information regarding social entrepreneurship.

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Boost graduate Emily Staugaitis featured

in the Detroit Free Press

Full article here.



    CSE Boost Program

    The Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) Boost is a 9-week social entrepreneurship course for members of an enterprise who are creatively solving social problems within Detroit and desire to become financially sustainable through entrepreneurial best practices, mentoring, and connections to resources. Applicants must be beyond an idea; that is, their enterprise must have a product or service and a beneficiary and some exchange of revenue. The application process will be followed by an interview with CSE staff members.

    By the end of the workshop, participating enterprises have the strategies and materials to grow their organization in a financially sustainable manner and apply for the funding and capacity building programs they need to reach the next level of growth. They will also receive ongoing assistance from Detroit-based mentors to work on their growth plan for a six-week period after the Boost. Additionally, each graduating Boost participant will have access to the Center for Social Entrepreneurship and our capacity development partners.

    The result: you will have a stronger business, widen and deepen your social impact and be ready to receive investment and scale your enterprise.

    CSE Boost 4 class sessions will occur on Thursdays, 6-9pm, at the University of Detroit Mercy, 4001 W. McNichols Rd., Detroit, MI 48221.

    Boost Fall 2017 dates:

    • Applications Due November 3rd
    • November 9th - January 25th, Boost classes are held
    • Pitch Night Celebration - TBD
    • Fall 2018 - Boost Cohort 5

    CSE Homepage

    Participants from the CSE's 2nd Boost program, February 2017


    Centennial Events

    Grand Opening of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship: Oct. 28, 2016

    • Conducted in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the College of Business Administration
    • View the DBusiness photo gallery online.



    How You Can Make a Difference

    • Register as a social entrepreneur – We enroll social entrepreneurs who are in the blueprint stage and have a tangible product or service ready to be marketed. Contact Fr. Phil Cooke, SJ for more information (contact information below) 
    • Volunteer as a mentor – If you have expertise in functional areas of business and would like to work with our social entrepreneurs, we’d love to hear from you!
    • Support the Center with a donation – Make a difference in Detroit by providing financial assistance to our Center for Social Entrepreneurship.  Checks should be payable to the University of Detroit Mercy, with College of Business Administration on the memo line.  Or give online, designating your gift to the College of Business Administration, at


    Co-Directors of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship


    Fr. Phillip Cooke, S.J.

    Fr. Phil Cooke, SJ previously served as Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.  Fr. Phil is passionate about blending spirituality and social entrepreneurship to assist individuals in creating their own unique careers to sustain themselves while serving the greater good. 

    Derrin Leppek


    Mr. Derrin Leppek previously served as a Managing Director of Place-Based Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Coach at Tech Town, where he initiated the SWOT City Program, and more recently as the Director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Macomb Community College.

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