Prize Overview

2019 Award Ceremony

The Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize at the University of Pennsylvania is an annual global prize given to one organization 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.

“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
President, University of Pennsylvania

Award Components

All three honorees for the Lipman Family Prize receive the same non-monetary benefits. Together with the University of Pennsylvania, each year’s honorees help to build new knowledge, resources, and solutions for the social sector. Announced each spring, the Lipman Family Prize honoree package includes:


A $250,000 unrestricted cash award for the winning organization and $100,000 for each of the two other honorees.


An ongoing partnership with the University dedicated to knowledge sharing and support of the organization. This includes promotion of their work and accomplishments in the Lipman Prize network of organizations, Penn faculty and alumni, and social impact funders.


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. The winner of the Prize tackles a universal problem in one or more local settings — and, as such, offers an approach, model, or innovation that can be adapted to create a positive impact elsewhere. The application process places particular emphasis on the following four 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 innovative approach to solving a pressing world 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.

Applicant Profiles

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:

Median Organizational Budget
$2.6 million USD
(ranging from just under $1M USD to around $10M USD)

Median Organizational Age
11 years

These numbers, along with our Honoree 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.

While the Lipman Family Prize does not have an eligibility ceiling for organizational budget size, organizations with annual operating budgets greater than $10M are encouraged to e-mail us directly at to determine your organization’s alignment with the Prize before applying.

Application Process

Our application process consists of four main phases- application submission and reviews, due diligence, selection of the honorees 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 honorees and winning organization will be announced in April 2021. The winner and honoree 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: Application Submission & Reviews

Timeframe: July – September

This first phase of the application includes essay questions, organizational profile information, and the submission of financial documents.

Applicant requirements Applicants submit an online application during the open application period, typically in July each year. The longer application questions can be found in the next tab group on this page in advance of the online submission period.
UPenn / Wharton Involvement After the application deadline, a team of external consultants from the nonprofit industry reviews applications using a quantitative assessment framework that focuses on the following for each organization:

  • the social challenge and global relevance of the problem being solved
  • the model chosen to address the social challenge
  • the logic in the design of the approach and differentiation
  • the methodology for measuring impact and demonstrated success to date
End Result A subset of 25-35 applications are chosen for further review in Phase 2. Applicants are notified as to whether they are moving on to Phase 2 in September.
PHASE 1: Application Questions

During Phase 1 of the application process organizations will be asked to answer the following essay questions. We encourage applicant organizations to begin preparing your responses in advance of the online submission period. The application will also contain short questions regarding the organization’s financials, operations, and other program information.

Social Challenge:

  1. What is the social challenge your work addresses? Describe the social challenge in the locations your work serves, including the scale of the problem, root cause of the challenge, populations affected, contextual factors (i.e. cultural, environmental) and the target population. (400 words)
  2. What is the global relevance of this social challenge? How is it experienced in multiple geographies or populations? Please elaborate beyond the scope of your work and include relevant data. (400 words)

Model Description:

  1. How does your work address this social challenge? Describe your program or service model. Be sure to include the following elements: intended impact for those you serve; details on program structure, activities, and duration; and key partnerships you employ in the delivery of your model. (400 words)
  2. What are the challenges and potential risks of your service model? (400 words)

Model Differentiation:

  1. Why have you chosen this model? What client needs, research, best practices and/or experiences have informed its design? What is key to the model’s success? (400 words)
  2. What differentiates your service model from others in your field? For example, how is its design or implementation novel? (400 words)

Impact Measurement:

  1. How do you define and measure the impact of your work? How do you capture and evaluate data related to your service goals? Please describe your methodology as well as your key metrics for success. (400 words)
  2. What results has your work produced to date? What program insights have come from your evaluation and reporting processes? (400 words)
PHASE 2:  Due Diligence

Timeframe: September – February

Applicant requirements A subset of applicants will be asked to submit additional documentation which includes but is not limited to: evaluation tools, strategic plans, and information on staff leadership and board of directors.
UPenn / Wharton Involvement During this Phase, under staff supervision the Lipman Prize Fellows consult with industry experts and faculty and use the information submitted to better understand the capacity of the organizations under consideration. For example, does the organization have appropriate operational systems, planning mechanisms and measurement capabilities given its age and size?
End Result Three honoree organizations are chosen by our Prize Committee. These honorees are notified in February.
PHASE 3: Winner Selection and Award Ceremony

Timeframe: March – April

Applicant requirements During this phase, the executive leader of each honoree organization is required to travel to Philadelphia sometime in March  for their interview with the Prize Committee and in April for the annual Lipman Family Prize Award Ceremony.
UPenn / Wharton Involvement The Lipman Prize will pay for domestic flights (or a portion of international flights) and hotel accommodations for both trips to Philadelphia. Lipman Prize staff will also coordinate with honorees to have them meet the Prize’s student fellows and others on campus with whom they would like to connect.
End Result A winner is selected. Public announcement of the winner will be made at the Award Ceremony in April.
PHASE 4:  Partnership Development

Timeline: May – Ongoing

Applicant requirements During this phase honorees are asked to engage in partnership with the Prize.
UPenn / Wharton Involvement Lipman Family Prize staff will work with the honorees and winner to publicize their work and begin to implement monetary and non-monetary benefits of the Prize.
End Result All 3 honoree organizations enjoy the benefits of their partnership with the University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School and join the Lipman Family Prize network.
Important Dates

July 2021
Online Application Opens

August 2021
Application Submission Deadline

September 2021
Phase 1 Notification

February 2022
Honorees Announced

April 2022
Winner Announced, Award Ceremony

Please note: This timeline is tentative. A confirmed schedule will be posted in the summer 2021.


We encourage organizations from around the globe to apply. We look for organizations that have a proven effective service model and capacity for growth. While the organization should be building a track record of success, it may not yet have gained significant recognition. For the winner, this Prize brings its work to a larger audience, attracts new potential donors, and provides resources that will help scale the work or improve organizational sustainability. Organizations do not have to operate outside of their home country to win the Prize. We also equally encourage applicants serving areas of North America to apply along with those from other regions of the globe.

Eligibility Criteria

The Lipman Family Prize is targeted toward organizations addressing social and economic 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.
  • In operation for three years or more.
  • Annual operating budget of $500,000 USD or more in the last and current fiscal year.
  • No direct lobbying expenses to influence legislation or elections, programs with religious content, or programs that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability.

Organizations may apply for the work of the entire organization, or for that of a specific program.  If submitting a program application, the program must meet the same basic criteria as an organizational applicant:

  • The program is part of an organization that is registered as a nonprofit in the United States or holds an equivalent incorporation status in their home country.
  • The program has been in operation for three years or more.
  • Annual program operating budget of $500,000 USD or more in the last and current fiscal year.
  • No direct lobbying expenses to influence legislation or elections, programs with religious content, or programs that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability.

We request that organizations and their programs that do not meet these criteria refrain from applying. Any application not meeting these criteria will not be considered.

Please note: Lipman Family Prize funds cannot be redistributed by our honorees 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 working to advance the work of the organization.

Previous Applicants

Lipman Family Prize Honorees (the top three organizations each year) are ineligible to reapply for the Prize.  Semifinalists (the top ten to fifteen organizations) from the previous application year must wait at least one year before reapplying.

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.

This scholarship is available exclusively to the staff of Lipman Prize honorees. Each scholarship will provide $10,000 towards the completion of the program. Recipients are able to participate in either the full-time or part-time NPL program*.

Creating this opportunity is an extension of our belief in the work of our honorees to the people who do that great work. Over time, we hope this will deepen the level of connection between the University of Pennsylvania and each of our honoree communities.

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

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelors Degree from an accredited college or university in the world
  • Strong GPA
  • Competitive GRE, GMAT, or LSAT, or 7+ years’ experience in the nonprofit/social impact sector
  • Three letters of recommendation; one must be from a Lipman Family Prize Honoree Supervisor
  • TOEFL or IELTS score of 100 or higher from these last two years for those students whose first language is not English

*Applicants will receive the scholarship only if they meet the above qualifications and are accepted into the program. There is no deadline to use the scholarship, the scholarship is awarded on a per credit basis. 


For more information or any questions, please reach out to Tunisia Meek

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