Research News

Cal Turner Family Foundation gift establishes center for social ventures at Vanderbilt

Program faculty photoL-r: Bart Victor, Jake Hill, Kathleen McKissack, Anna Watt, Cal Turner Jr., Sarah Berhalter, Ellen Page and M. Eric Johnson. (Turner Family Center for Social Ventures)

The Cal Turner Family Foundation has committed nearly $1.2 million over five years to establish the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

Established with extensive input from Vanderbilt student leaders and faculty members, the new center will extend and expand the Cal Turner Family Foundation’s previous partnership with Vanderbilt to focus on seeking creative, enduring market-based solutions to alleviate poverty.

In addition to furthering the international work of Project Pyramid–a program designed for Vanderbilt graduate students to learn about and implement solutions to address global poverty–the new center is designed as a hub to coordinate social venture activities.

The activities outlined for the center include:

  • Expanding student opportunities to work with global organizations dedicated to finding market-based solutions to alleviate poverty.
  • Initiating local and regional projects that address poverty in our own community.
  • Working with students and professors to augment classroom offerings focused on businesses that create a positive social impact.
  • Allowing more students each year to travel domestically and internationally to work on social venture projects.
  • Establishing an annual conference on social ventures that will convene students, thought leaders and executives to share best practices and research.
  • Adding to existing career service resources to provide additional internship and full-time opportunities for students.

“Over the past eight years the student-led Project Pyramid has alleviated poverty and improved the quality of life for many people,” said Cal Turner Jr., chairman of the Cal Turner Family Foundation. “[rquote]I’m gratified this gift will help students build upon these efforts to harness the power of business visionaries in helping promote a greater good, both at home and abroad.”[/rquote]

Turner, former CEO, chairman and president of Dollar General Corporation, is committed to community development and theological education and actively supports programs at Vanderbilt University including the Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership in the Professions.

M. Eric Johnson, Ralph Owen Dean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy at the Owen School, welcomed the additional opportunities the center will provide for the wider Vanderbilt community. “The Cal Turner Family Foundation has once again made a bold commitment to its vision of fostering moral leaders,” Johnson said. “I am honored that Vanderbilt– and the wider world–will continue to benefit from the Turner family’s generosity.”

Bart Victor, the Cal Turner Professor of Moral Leadership, who has worked with Project Pyramid over the past eight years, will serve as the founding director of the center.

For more information about Project Pyramid, see