One day while walking through the University of Pennsylvania cafeteria, Shlomo Klapper struck up a conversation with Troy Harris, one of the cafeteria’s workers. Harris had a great idea for a small business but couldn’t it get it off the ground. Klapper, who has a self-described “bias towards action,” wanted to find a way to help not just Harris, but all the struggling small businesses in West Philadelphia. This was the humble beginning of Consult for America (CFA), a student group that offers pro-bono consulting services to struggling low-income businesses.
Since Klapper started CFA in 2012 as a freshman, it has grown to include 50 student members, as well as a second chapter at NYU. It has also empowered small business builders like Harris and his partner Kareem Wallace: with help from CFA, the two men are now $40,000 closer to realizing their dream of opening a vegetarian food truck that will employ at-risk kids in West Philadelphia.
Klapper, now finishing his junior year, believes “If you want something to happen, you have to ante up rather than stand on the sidelines.” He plans to continue expanding CFA to more campuses throughout the country.
This year Klapper also started “Israel Across Penn,” an initiative to stimulate discussion about Israel that attracted over 800 student participants.
In addition, he serves as a member of the advisory board of the Hillel Orthodox Community at Penn.
With CFA, other commitments and work as a full-time student on his plate, Klapper credits Shabbat with allowing him to rest and re-energize for the week to come. Although some of his fellow students don’t understand the concept of Shabbat, he has found that “people respect you for who you are, not who you’re not. Being comfortable with yourself gets you more respect.”
Squash savvy: Nope, not the vegetable. Klapper schedules time to play squash twice a week. As he puts it, “It’s important to have an activity which can clear your head.”