The Social Innovation Fellowship is a platform for students and communities to explore and develop innovations that address pressing problems in our society. This award-winning program supports 15-20 projects each year that are led by students and community leaders. Fellows participate in a year of intensive skills training, complementary coursework, and a community of social innovators offering mentorship and critique. Student fellows are awarded $4,000 to work full-time on the social innovation over the summer.
In some cases, Social Innovation Fellows are student founders of their own social impact venture - these include student-run organizations, businesses, and non-profits. In other cases, Social Innovation Fellows are teams of local community leaders and students who are collaboratively building a new and innovative capacity in Rhode Island. Fellows' projects take different forms, including:
- Student teams who are developing ideas for a new social venture, such as Stanley Stewart, Jessica Brown, and Manuel Contreras, founders of 1vyG; or Maya Faulsich-Han and Viraj Sikand, founders of Kulisha.
- Students who have ideas for innovations and partner with existing organizations to develop these ideas, such as Fiora MacPherson or Allen Kramer.
- Beginning in 2016, local community leaders and students who work together to develop a social innovation through an entirely new endeavor, or an initiative within an existing organization. See the Community Innovation Projects page for more information.
"The Social Innovation Fellowship has inspired me to dream big while giving me strength to trust my own way of contributing ot a greater good and the larger community."
- Lucia Monge RISD MFA '15, 2014 Social Innovation Fellow
The Social Innovation Fellowship goes from January through December of each year. Fellows receive funding to work on their project full-time during 10 weeks during the summer, and participate in weekly programming throughout the spring and fall semesters. Fellows are expected to participate actively in the Fellowship community. This entails:
- Attending an opening off-site retreat the first weekend of the spring semester
- Enrolling in our course, Leading Social Ventures, an action-learning course that teaches students about the theory and practice of designing and launching a social innovation. Click here for more information about the course.
- Attending weekly meetings on Wednesday evenings, which take the form of either a Small Group Meeting or Workshop (2 hrs/week)
- Documenting progress of their project on Swearer Sparks
- Mentoring applicants for the following year's class of Fellows, as well as mentoring admitted Fellows throughout their year in the program (1 hr/month)
- Meet the current Fellows.
- Read about our definitions of social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social enterprise.
- Learn more about the Fellowship's 2014 Cordes Innovation Award.
- Read our 2013 Fellowship Impact Report
- Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions.