Center for Social Entrepreneurship

CSE Logo

Improving Detroit Livelihoods

As Detroit’s rebirth marches on, entrepreneurship has proven to be the best fuel for the economic engine and a powerful tool to address social issues in inventive ways. As a result, there is a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurial support programs throughout the region. The University of Detroit Mercy's Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) opened in 2016 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the College of Business Administration to work with these partners and play a critical role in this ecosystem by leading the social entrepreneurship movement.     

Our mission is to improve Detroit livelihoods by creating a community of healthy businesses that find innovative and economically sustainable solutions to social issues in Southeast Michigan, thereby creating a more just and equitable society for all.

Our goal is to create a culture where business knowledge and resources are fairly distributed among the growing social enterprise community.

We do this while promoting the Jesuit and Mercy values that enliven our institution.

Gala 2016 Photo with Dean of CBA and University President for Opening of CSE

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

View the DBusiness photo gallery online

What is a Social Enterprise?

If you run a business and your motivation to create positive social impact is greater than or equal to making a profit, then you are running a social enterprise.

We view a social enterprise as fitting into one of the these main areas of social impact:

Graphic showing 5 types of Social Impact

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

CSE Boost Program

The CSE Boost Program is a nine-week, intensive workshop for early-stage social organizations that have already entered the market with their product or service. Boost participants learn business fundamentals, improve their strategic thinking, articulate a business plan, and develop a business model that demonstrates social impact, growth, and long-term financial sustainability.

By the end of the program, participating enterprises have the strategies and materials to grow their organization in a financially sustainable manner and apply for the funding to reach the next level of growth. They will also receive mentoring from successful entrepreneurs to work on their growth plans 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, increased social impact, and readiness to receive investment to scale your enterprise.

CSE Boost class sessions are held at the University of Detroit Mercy McNichols Campus.

Boost Graduate Emily Staugaitis Featured

in the Detroit Free Press

Read the full article here and check out the video below!

Current Boost Participants

You can access Boost Cohort Materials by following the link here and using the provided password.

Attend our Events!

From subject specific one-day, and multi-day workshops, to networking events and celebrations.  You can brush up on skills and networking to add to the growing social enterprise culture.  View our Calendar and visit us on Facebook for more information!

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 our Center for more information or apply for our Boost Cohort here.
  • 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.  Contact us or give online, designating your gift to the College of Business Administration, at


Photo of CSE Director Derrin LeppekDirector of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship 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.

Advisory Board: Kathleen Dul Aznavorian; John Everly; Marilyn French-Hubbard; Caitie Goddard; Jennifer O'Brien.

A Special Thank You to our Partners

Michigan Women Forward Logo Ford Community Corps Logo Ford Motor Company Fund Accounting Aid Society Logo SCORE Logo
Small Business Administration Logo Mission Throttle Logo Build Institute Logo ioby Logo Kiva Detroit Logo