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Prize Overview

2019 Award Ceremony

The Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize at the University of Pennsylvania is an annual global prize that celebrates leadership and innovation in the social sector with an emphasis on impact and transferability of practices.

The Lipman Family Prize recognizes and supports these organizations — providing a service to the broader social sector by connecting organizations across service areas to the broader Penn community. The University of Pennsylvania is home to a dynamic, diverse community of faculty, staff, administration, students and alumni committed to drawing on their knowledge and expertise to partner across disciplines and geographies to improve the world.

We value building relationships and are passionate about getting to know change-makers around the world. We champion innovative practices and people to accelerate smart solutions across places and problems. The more we can shed light on solutions that work, the more effective we’ll be at creating a better world.

“As a University built on new ideas, passionate people, and practical pursuits, the University of Pennsylvania is delighted to welcome the Lipman Family Prize honorees as members of the Penn and Wharton community who are having a positive impact on the world.”

Amy Gutmann
Former President, University of Pennsylvania

Award Components

Each year, the Lipman Family Prize selects three winners. The grand prize winning organization receives a $250,000 unrestricted cash award, and the two additional winning organizations each receive a $150,000 unrestricted cash award.

In addition, all three winners receive the same non-monetary benefits including:


An ongoing partnership with the University dedicated to knowledge sharing and support of the organization, including opportunities for resources and relationships to help scale the work or improve organizational sustainability.


Promotion of their work and accomplishments to a large audience, and network development within the Lipman Prize community of winners, and the broader Penn network.


Access to tuition-free executive education programs at the Wharton Executive Education and the Center for Social Impact Strategy, valued at approximately $15,000.


The exclusive Lipman Nonprofit Leadership Scholarship, given in partnership with the University’s School of Public Policy and Practice, valued at approximately $10,000.

Lipman Family Prize Confidentiality Statement – All materials shared with the Lipman Family Prize as part of our application process will be kept confidential. If there is a desire to share any data related to individual applicants, the Lipman Prize will make a direct request for permission.

Evaluation Criteria

Winners of the Lipman Family Prize are models for the good that they achieve as well as for their approach and implementation. They each tackle a universal problem within local settings and offer adaptable models or innovations that can be scaled to create positive impacts globally. The application process emphasizes four key qualities: Leadership, Impact, Innovation, and Transferability.


Lipman Family Prize winners are organizations that achieve good through sustainable approaches. Their models are exemplary and provide solutions for tackling universal problems that can be adapted around the world.


Lipman Family Prize winners have exhibited proof of concept for their model and/or specific project. They are poised to scale and see the Lipman Prize as the catalyst for growth.


Lipman Family Prize winners offer innovation and/or an innovative approach to solving a pressing world problem. They are addressing a social challenge in a way that is differentiated in some way from how others have addressed the same problem.


Lipman Family Prize winners embrace the importance of knowledge transfer within the social sector. A core element of their business model has the potential to transfer across geography and/or need, thus offering valuable knowledge assets for the social impact community. Lipman winners seek to not only achieve significant impact within their own operations but also actively contribute to the advancement of the entire social impact field.

View how each winner is aligned with our evaluation criteria on our winner page!


Winners can be working in any geographic region, and making a positive impact in addressing any globally relevant social challenge of public interest. We encourage organizations working anywhere in the world to apply. Organizations do not have to operate outside of their home country to win the Prize. See below for eligibility details.

Eligibility Criteria

The Lipman Family Prize is targeted toward organizations addressing globally relevant issues that are usually addressed by the Nonprofit/NGO/Civil Society sector. As a result, the majority of organizations that apply are considered “nonprofit” organizations. We expect that applicant organizations meet the following criteria in order to apply for the Prize:

  • Registered as a nonprofit in the United States or hold an equivalent incorporation status in their home country.
  • Have been operating as an organization for three years or more.
  • Have been monitoring and evaluating its work for three years or more and have those results to share.
  • Have a 3-year average of annual organizational expenses between $500,000 and $5M* USD.
  • No direct lobbying expenses to influence legislation or elections (e.g. 501(c)4); programs with religious content; or programs that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability.

*The budget size eligibility criterion has been updated for the 2024 Prize. Please see the FAQ page for additional information.

Please note: Lipman Family Prize funds cannot be redistributed by our winners to other organizations and/or individuals.

Relationship with the University of Pennsylvania

The Lipman Family Prize is awarded by the University of Pennsylvania. Given this, we monitor applications for potential conflicts of interest and preexisting relationships to the University. Organizations that have direct existing relationships with University departments, staff, students or faculty are asked to email us directly at to assess whether the organization is eligible. A direct existing relationship does not include University alumni, former staff, or former faculty who serve in a professional or volunteer capacity for the applicant organization. Organizations that have any doubt about a potential conflict of interest are asked to err on the side of caution and contact us so that we may respond quickly to provide guidance on your eligibility to apply.

A variety of situations, affiliations, and relationships may create potential conflicts of interest for the Prize. Some examples of potential conflicts of interest that would need to be reviewed include, but are not limited to: The applicant organization’s current staff or board member directly involved with the Lipman Family Prize selection process within the last 5 years; the applicant organization’s current affiliation with anyone in Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program office or Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management (ie. family member, or serving on the organization’s board); or an organization has a current University of Pennsylvania professor or administrator actively contributing to or advancing the work of the organization.

Previous Applicants

Lipman Family Prize Winners (the top three organizations each year) are ineligible to reapply for the Prize. In addition, organizations directly affiliated with any of our past winning organizations (ie. shared global brand but different country entity) are ineligible to apply.

Semi-finalists (the top ten to fifteen organizations) from the previous application year must wait at least one year before reapplying. All other organizations may reapply for the Lipman Family Prize annually.

Applicant Profiles

Recent Statistical Centers

Over the past five years, applicants that have reached the semi-finalist stage (top 10-15 organizations) have been represented by a wide range of organizational profiles, with these statistical centers below. These statistics, along with our Winner Profiles, offer prospective applicants a sense of the types of organizations that perform well in the Lipman Family Prize application cycle. We recommend that organizations review this information before submitting an application for the Prize.

Median Organizational Budget
$2.7 million USD

Average Organizational Budget
$4.2 million USD
(The middle 50% of the last 5 years of semi-finalist applicants’ budget sizes were between $1.5 – $4.3 million USD, with the full range between $500,000 and $8.1 million, excluding outliers)

Median Organizational Age
12 years

Average Organizational Age
13 years
(The middle 50% of the semi-finalist organizations in the last 5 years have been between 9 and 16 years old, with the full range between 4 to 25 years old, excluding outliers)

Alignment with the Lipman Prize

In addition to meeting our eligibility criteria listed above, the most successful applicants tend to:

  • Exemplify each of the 4 evaluation criteria described above: leadership, impact, innovation, and transferability;
  • Tell a cohesive story about their organization that describes the social challenge, explains how they have chosen to address this problem and why they have chosen this solution, and what the impact and positive change has been for the intended beneficiaries;
  • Are committed to amplifying their impact by enabling the broader social impact community to learn from and adopt their successful strategies;
  • Have deep roots in the community being served;
  • Have a proven effective delivery model and capacity for growth;
  • May not yet have gained significant recognition, but is building a track record of success;
  • Have a demonstrated learning orientation within the organization’s leadership and culture;
  • Be interested in the non-monetary benefits and partnership opportunities associated with the Lipman Family Prize’s unique base within the University of Pennsylvania; and
  • Want to be an active participant and peer learning partner in the growing community of Lipman Prize winning organizations.

The Lipman Family Prize celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2021! Watch this video commemorating our first decade.

Application Process

We have deep respect for change-makers implementing cutting-edge solutions to poverty and inequality around the world and review each application to the Lipman Family Prize with thoughtfulness and care.

Our application process consists of four main phases- application submission and reviews, due diligence, selection of the winners and partnership development. Applications are reviewed under the supervision of staff and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. All applicants will be notified in September whether or not they will continue to be considered in that year’s selection process. The winners and grand prize winning organization will be announced in April. The grand prize winner and two other winning organizations will attend a special award ceremony and related events held at the University of Pennsylvania.

Please see below for a detailed breakdown of each of these phases.

PHASE 1: Open Application Round

Timeframe: July – September

This first phase of the application is open to any organization that meets the eligibility criteria outlined above. This first round includes essay questions across the 5 themes listed below, basic organizational profile information, and the submission of existing financial statements that demonstrate the eligibility criteria has been met.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants submit an online application during this open application period, which typically opens on July 1 each year for one month. The current cycle’s specific dates can be found in the “Important Dates” tab.

Review Process

Each year, we typically receive around 100 applications in the open submission period. We invite a team of trained reviewers from our Lipman Prize community to review the applications using a quantitative assessment framework that focuses on the 4 evaluation criteria of leadership, impact, innovation, and transferability.

Essay Questions

Phase 1 essay questions are intended to give applicants the opportunity to tell their story. Every organization has a story, and we want to learn about yours. The essay questions are organized into 5 themes:

  • Social Challenge: These questions ask for background information about the societal problem(s) your organization aims to solve in the geographical context(s) you operate, as well as the global relevance of this social challenge. Help us understand the problem being addressed.
  • Model Description: These questions ask to explain what the organization does. Given the social challenge described above, how has your organization chosen to address this challenge?
  • Model Differentiation: As innovation is a key evaluation criteria for the Lipman Family Prize, these questions ask to explain the distinct approaches and practices your organization has adopted to address the social challenge your organization addresses.
  • Impact Measurement: These questions ask for both a process description and for actual impact results. These questions aim to understand your monitoring and evaluation process and how your organization assesses the impact of the model described above in addressing the social challenge addressed above. These questions also are the opportunity to share your organization’s impact data.
  • Transferability: These questions aim to understand your organization’s approach to sharing knowledge assets for the benefit of the wider social impact community.

End Result

A subset of 24-40 organizations are invited to advance to Phase 2 of our application process. All applicants are notified in September as to whether they are chosen for further review in Phase 2.

PHASE 2: Top 24-40 Applications Round

Timeframe: September – December

Applicant Requirements

A subset of applicants will be selected in September to advance to Phase 2 of the application process. In this phase, applicants are asked to submit existing documentation for the Prize’s review and due diligence work. This material includes but is not limited to: financial information, data evaluation tools, strategic plans, business plans, and information on staff leadership and board of directors.

Applicants in this Phase will be notified in early September and will be asked to submit the Phase 2 application within approximately 3 weeks (date to be specified in the notification).

Throughout October and November, there may be follow-up communication as needed for clarification on any material submitted. We commit to providing as much advance notice, clear timeline, and context as possible to any such follow-up outreach, and invite organizations to ask their own clarifying questions as needed.

Review Process

During this Phase, the Lipman staff work with the Lipman Prize Fellows, a selective group of interdisciplinary graduate students from across Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania who are engaged in a year-long fellowship program that includes supporting the diligence review process. Under the guidance and supervision of the Lipman staff, the Lipman Fellows consult with industry experts and faculty and use the information submitted to better understand the organizations under consideration on dimensions such as organizational sustainability, differentiation, and transferability, among others.

Additionally, the Lipman team partners with financial advisors at Boylston Hoffman, LLC to review and understand the financial information provided by the organizations.

End Result

Twelve organizations are selected as semi-finalist organizations and invited to advance to the next Phase 3 of our application process. All applicants are notified in December as to whether they are selected as a semi-finalist.

PHASE 3: Semi-Finalist Round

Timeframe: December – February

Applicant Requirements

Semi-finalist organizations are notified in December and asked to submit a final round of additional information including a low-production (ie. phone camera recording) 2-3 minute recorded video by the organization’s executive leader.

Applicants in this Phase will be notified in December and will be asked to submit the Phase 3 application response within approximately 3-4 weeks (date to be specified in the notification).

In January / early February, there may be follow-up communication as needed for clarification on any material submitted. As with the previous phases, we commit to providing as much advance notice, clear timeline, and context as possible to any such follow-up outreach, and invite organizations to ask their own clarifying questions as needed.

Review Process

In February, the Lipman staff and Lipman Fellows teams present the semi-finalist organizations to the Prize Committee which includes Lipman family members, Wharton and University of Pennsylvania faculty members, and experienced external social impact professionals.

End Result

Three winning organizations are chosen by the Prize Committee. All semi-finalist organizations are notified of the decision in late February. The winners will each receive an unrestricted monetary prize, as well as non-monetary benefits. The winning organizations are invited to participate in Phase 4 for the final round of our application process to select the grand prize winner.

PHASE 4: Grand Prize Winner Selection & Winners Partnerships

Timeline: March – Ongoing

Applicant Requirements

In March, winning organizations’ executive leader and board chair (or member) participate in a virtual video interview with the Prize Committee, who will select the grand prize winning organization from among the winners.

The winning organizations also begin working with the Lipman staff for marketing and press release purposes, and for implementing the monetary and non-monetary benefits of the Prize.

The winning organizations are also required to have their executive leader attend the annual Lipman Family Prize Award Ceremony and daytime programming in or around Penn’s campus in Philadelphia. The Prize will pay for travel and hotel stay for one organizational representative and work with the organizations to arrange transportation and accommodation.

Review Process

In March, the Prize Committee conducts interviews with each of the winning organizations, then deliberates and selects the grand prize winner.

End Result

The Lipman winning organizations are confidentially notified of the Prize Committee’s decision in late March / early April. The grand prize winning organization is publicly announced at the Award Ceremony in April in Philadelphia.

All three winning organizations receive the benefits of their partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School, as well as join the Lipman Family Prize network and winner community.


July 1, 2024
Online Application Opens

July 26, 2024
Application Submission Deadline

September 2024
Phase 1 Ends – Applicants notified whether or not they are selected to move forward to the Top 24-40 Round.

December 2024
Phase 2 Ends – Applicants notified whether or not they are selected to move forward to the Semi-Finalist Round.

February 2025
Phase 3 Ends – Winners are selected and announced.

March 2025
Winners participate in an interview with the Prize Selection Committee.

April 2025
Grand Prize Winner is announced at the annual Award Ceremony in Philadelphia.

Nonprofit Leadership Scholarship

We are extremely proud to share an unique offering in the world of philanthropic prizes. In partnership with the Nonprofit Leadership Program here at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, we offer the Lipman Nonprofit Leadership Scholarship. Run out of the School of Social Policy & Practice, graduates of the program receive a master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL). The NPL program is designed to serve nonprofit professionals preparing for leadership opportunities, professionals seeking to shift careers to create social impact, and international applicants looking to enhance their leadership and nonprofit skills.

Scholarship Details

  • Open to both full and part-time applicants (1 year full-time and 2-3 years part-time)
  • 10 Credit Unit (C.U.) Program
  • Course options for early to mid-career nonprofit and social impact professionals
  • Course options for US and International interests such as Philanthropy and Fundraising, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Governance and Management, Organizational Dynamics, Finance, and Impact Measurement among others

Please note: Lipman Family Prize funds cannot be redistributed by our winners to other organizations and/or individuals.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership Program at the School of Social Policy & Practice must meet all of the following criteria:

  • hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university anywhere in the world;
  • have a grade point average (GPA) that reflects strong academic ability and submit an official copy of a transcript from all colleges and universities attended (including community college and other degree programs);
  • (not required for AY 2020-2021) have competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or 3+ years of experience in nonprofit or social impact organizations. The Institutional Code for reporting the GRE test scores is 2926 and the Department Code is 5001. We also accept either the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) indicating requisite analytic ability, though our preference is for applicants to take the GRE;
  • for international applicants whose first language is not English, require you to take the TOEFL exam. TOEFL scores must be at a level appropriate for advanced graduate work. Currently, look for TOEFL test scores of 100 or higher (highest score is 120). The Institutional Code for reporting TOEFL scores is 2926 and the Department Code is 95;
  • provide three (3) strong letters of recommendation, including preferably one professional and one academic recommendation;
  • complete the online application for admission including the application essay

For more information, please contact our Lipman Family Prize Team.

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