Total Impact Portfolio Challenge

How it Works

What is the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge?

The Total Impact Portfolio Challenge is an opportunity for graduate students to gain practical experience in aligning portfolios to financial and social impact goals.

What are the important dates I should know?


August 15
September 30
October 15

Applications open
Round 1 application deadline
Round 2 participants announced


March 1
March 25

Complete portfolios due
Finalists announced
Final presentation and evaluation: Total Impact Philadelphia 2019

What are the steps involved to compete?

 Step 1: Form a team

  • Form a team of 3-5 students* to work together to construct your portfolio.

 Step 2: Accept invitation to online Learning Management System (Canvas)

  • If you are accepted into the TIPC program, you’ll be invited to join our online TIPC platform Canvas. Canvas will provide various resources to help guide your TIPC experience. This includes informational videos, webinars, school resources, and access to various data sets.

Step 3: Create the first draft of your portfolio recommendations

  • Once you’re invited to join the program, you’ll receive a detailed institutional investor profile You’ll need to respond with your strategy for allocating their assets, in line with their risk profiles, return expectations, and their specific issue areas and values. You will be provided with resources and tools to help you look for investment opportunities across asset classes

Step 4: Refine and report your portfolio

  • Work with Total Impact Portfolio Challenge program advisors to refine your asset allocation strategy. Use your chosen tools and metrics to measure and report the financial and social impact performance of your portfolio. Students are welcome to develop their proprietary tool to supplement existing industry tools and frameworks

Step 5: Submit for judging

  • Submit your final portfolio and your rationale narrative for review by expert judges.

Step 6: Join us in Philadelphia for the Finals

  • Finalist teams will be selected to present their portfolios and their selection rationale to a group of expert judges at the Total Impact conference in Philadelphia in April 2020.

*Please see below for “Who can participate in the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge?”

Who is the Challenge for?

We believe that being fluent in impact is a competitive edge even for students who are not looking to have a career dedicated to impact investing. This Challenge will provide hand-on training in important aspects of impact investing - understanding investor profiles, security selection, impact alignment, reporting - for all aspiring investment professionals.

Total Impact Portfolio Challenge is the prefect opportunity to hone your due diligence, portfolio construction, monitoring, and risk management skills.

Is past experience in finance a prerequisite? 

A degree or background in finance is not a necessary requirement. However, an understanding and interest in the modalities of how capital can be better aligned to social impact is crucial. The Challenge is designed to marry the rigor of investment management to high, positive impact.  Philanthropic and development institutions are increasingly partnering with the "mainstream", private capital markets to find innovative, sustainable financial solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. This Challenge is for constituents of both worlds.

Who can participate in the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge?

For the 2019/2020 school year, the challenge is open to teams of graduate students currently enrolled in US universities.

A team can have minimum 3 and maximum 5 members, all of whom must be enrolled in a full-time graduate program at the time of the submission. The team members can be from different school years across graduate schools of the same university. We encourage students to form teams drawn from different graduate programs to ensure a balanced mix of expertise and skill sets. and Participants cannot include Ph.D. students or students enrolled in executive programs.

How do I apply to participate in the challenge?

Complete the application by September 30.

What is the structure of the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge?

Teams will be provided with two institutional investor profiles - a private foundation and a single family office. Both investors want to transition to a "Total Impact" model where they are able to integrate impact - runs the gamut from negative screening to ESG to targeted impact - across asset classes of their strategic portfolio allocation.

Each investor profile includes the investor’s financial and social impact goals, target asset allocation, risk profile, and liquidity needs. Participants will get to choose one investor profile and are then required to identify specific securities, funds, and investments to construct a portfolio that meets their investor's goals.  

Finalists will present their work at the Total Impact Philadelphia in April 2020.

How will teams be evaluated?

Teams must demonstrate how well they have understood their client's financial and social goals. Teams will be evaluated on their execution capabilities across asset classes and across targeted impact areas, and on their ability to capture and communicate the projected financial and social outcomes.

Please note that we understand that 100% impact is aspirational and not all asset class or sub-class offer accessible, investable opportunities. The Challenge is designed to encourage students to transit portfolios to a greater degree of impact intentionality. We want to motivate students to be broader in their approach and definition of impact. 

We want students to be creative in choosing different frameworks to report the social and environmental impact of their portfolios. 

Who judges the Total Impact Portfolio Challenge?

Members of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative (WSII) and the Good Capital Group (GCP) teams will be joined by industry leaders in evaluating the portfolios submitted by the teams.

How and when will I be notified of acceptance to participate in the Challenge?

Applicants will be sent an email notifying them of their acceptance decision by October 15

How many finalists will be chosen?

4 finalist teams will be chosen to present their portfolio recommendations at Total Impact Philadelphia 2020.

Beyond what my school can offer, what resources will be provided?

TIPC participants will be uploaded to Canvas, an online Learning Management System. Canvas will provide students with the following resources, among others:

Informational webinars, research reports, portfolio management tools, school resource guides, Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) access, and more.