Sands Fellowship

Sands Family Social Venturing Fellowship

Bill & Susan Sands graduated from the University of Minnesota and dedicated their lives to making the Twin Cities a better community.  Through the Western Bank, Neighborhood Development Center, Jeremiah Program and numerous other social and economic development organizations, Bill and Susan provided opportunity and assistance to individuals in need.  Through Sands Family Social Venturing Fellowship, they hope to inspire future generations of Carlson MBA students to have a similar positive impact in their local community.

Financial support provides Carlson MBA students with the opportunity to create transformative summer experience as part of social venture that contributes to local community.  MBA students are encouraged to either develop plans to launch their own new social venture or co-design summer internship projects with local mission-based organizations.  Grants of $5,000 will be awarded to students who propose new ventures or internships that provide tangible benefits to the local community in the form of community and neighborhood economic development, housing, health and reducing poverty.  Additional funding is available for students whose ventures advance beyond the experiential STARTUP course.

Sands Fellows participating in this program have launched new ventures to address workforce training, affordable housing, homelessness, nutrition, social justice, mental health, youth education, gun violence, women's shelters, nonprofit capitalization, medical devices designed specifically for youth markets and a broad range of other social ventures

Apply by November 22 for 2024 Fellowships.


2023 Sands Fellows


Josh Hansen-Connell MBA’24
Proposed Social Venture: Rural Economic Development

Develop methods for condensing and amplifying the power of rural consumers. In doing so, new
business models, such as co-ops, can be explored that help rural communities capture and retain value.


Hunter Hoelzel MBA’24
Proposed Social Venture: Urban Food Deserts

Investigate different models to address fresh fruit and produce access within food deserts in the Twin
Cities. Through this research, I’d like to select a model that would provide the most benefit and access
that is also profitable and scalable to other food deserts across the country.


Elijah Holmes MA CEHD’23
Proposed Social Venture: DevelopU - Transitioning to Adulthood

Assist youth’s transition into adulthood by providing non-college-attending high school graduates with
access to employment and basic financial skills.

Brett Kasper MBA ‘24
Proposed Social Venture: The Eyrie Foundation

Nonprofit organization that seeks to build happier and healthier communities by serving as an
accelerator and an advisor to impact-oriented coffee houses. It matches entrepreneurs seeking to
launch a coffee house with municipalities that stand to benefit such a business.


Morgan Kerfeld MBA’24
Proposed Social Venture: Telo as Social Enterprise

TELO is a student-founded startup that provides innovative solutions for those with mobility limitations
through an ecosystem of IoT enabled assistive devices. Starting with the first significant innovation to
the rollator walker, TELO hopes to flip the narrative that assistive devices are only for the ill and frail and
instead show how they can be catalysts for greater independence, activity, and empowerment for
anyone with mobility complications. The objective of my Sands Fellowship is to create an actionable plan
for TELO to fully transition to a social enterprise.

Praneeth Punugoti MBA’24
Proposed Social Venture: Improving Efficiency of Volunteer Matching

Bridge the gap between the resources needed by the non-profits and the vast talent pool we have
access to at the University of Minnesota. The project not only involves mapping people with a non-profit
organization, it also gamifies the whole volunteering experience. We aim to bring all the opportunities
available in Minnesota onto a single mobile application-based platform. We also aim to expand this to
every reputed university nationwide with an active social impact outlook.

Rasheed Muhammad MBA’25
Proposed Social Venture: Affordable & Equitable Health Care

Support low-income communities in getting access to affordable healthcare options. Developing a
platform that aids low-income people to seek out affordable healthcare services and help to improve
the convenience of scheduling, communication, and payments.

Manognya Wunnava MBA’24
Proposed Social Venture: Parent Development

Build a conducive environment for child development at home by providing parents with resources,
support, and access to peer groups through all the different phases of their child’s life. Through this
project I will support and focus on same-sex partner families, multi-racial and multi-ethnic families, and
social groups in the Twin Cities that are still not completely embraced, and help them navigate through
parenthood. We spend years in studying how to make money but very little on how to be a good human
being, much less how to raise one.


Returning 2022 Sands Fellows

Bill McCue & Patrick Wenger
Proposed Social Venture: Educating Consumers on Local Recycling Policies

As the vast majority of industrial plastics are petroleum-derived and thus non-degradable, any plastic
not properly recycled or incinerated for energy recovery will spend an indefinite amount of time in
landfills. Our vision is to empower environmentally conscious individuals by giving them straightforward
information with regard to proper recycling through an application (“app”) based technology. Our app
will use a geo-locator that will contain information regarding recycling policies in different municipalities
along with guidelines for safe disposal of a variety of different wastes.

AJ Nold
Proposed Social Venture: Shadow Spinner

The Twin Cities boasts a large diversity of talented, creative individuals. Artists often struggle to make a
living wage off their art, which forces them to choose between giving up their art or accepting a lower
standard of living. Our services will aid local artists in turning their talents into a livelihood. We will not
merely subsidize the arts; we will help people make their art profitable for them.


In the News

Sands Fellowship

Carlson School MBA student discusses the Sands Fellowship

Previous Sands Fellows

See our previous Sands Fellows by year.

  • Elise Erickson
  • Victoria Haider
  • Jason Hutchenson
  • Ikram Khan
  • Bailey Webster
  • Joseph Woodward
  • Bill McCue
  • Patrick Wenger
  • Rebecca Meyer
  • AJ Nold
  • Chuddy Emukah
  • Melanie Ellsworth
  • Robert Astrup
  • Hunter Brocato
  • Shannon Fitzgerald
  • Cy Hudson
  • Kania Johnson
  • Steven Kutz
  • Sean Lundy
  • Ullas Pathak
  • Brian Trubowitz
  • Robert Astrup
  • Hunter Brocado
  • Kate Ingersoll
  • Varsha Mohanraj
  • Abby Solom
  • Lizzy Ullyot
  • Shannon Leach
  • Tyler Ledford
  • Rose Kelly
  • Sarah Carroll
  • Lindsay Sacco
  • Erik Muckey
  • Izaak Mendoza
  • David Ly
  • Daniella De Franco
  • Kevin Deese
  • Christopher Thompson
  • Wade Wimer
  • Isaac Murphy
  • Justin Doll
  • Jonathan Latterner
  • Joseph Alexander
  • Chris Grantham
  • Laura Johnson
  • Laura Johnston
  • Michael Moriarity
  • Harpreet Sandhawalia
  • Ryan Peter
  • Zach Hofeld
  • Jamie Glover
  • Rebecca Blumenshine
  • Simon Cecil
  • Patricia Columbus-Powers
  • Charlie Massopust
  • Peter Schmitt
  • Sarah Pritzker
  • Steven Bruce
  • Joe Braman
  • Elise Maxwell
  • Alana Buckner
  • Kate Kessenich
  • Laura-Lee Brown
  • Tim O'Neil
  • Jon Melgaard
  • Jeff Ochs
  • Eartha Borer-Bell