The Fellowship provides fellows with the support they need to take their venture to the next level. For some ventures, this means providing founders with the tools and time to seek outside funding or implement a self-supporting business model. For others, it may mean building viability and proof of concept so that ventures can be exceptional candidates for nationally-recognized incubators and fellowships. To accomplish this goal, the Embark fellowship will provide a combination of direct financial support, structured opportunities for fundraising, access to a network of professional services, and connections to an alumni community of innovators and changemakers.
Financial Support and Community Fundraising Opportunities — We provide fellows with direct funding combined with opportunities for fundraising that are sufficient for fellows to pursue their venture as a full-time vocation — approximately $35,000 for individuals and $50,000 for teams. Embark awards challenge grants to fellows that match the amount raised by fellows on a crowd-funding platform and elsewhere. The 2015 Fellows far surpassed their crowd-funding goals, collectively raising over $107,000.
Coaching, Mentoring, and Advising — Fellows will be paired with coaches, mentors, and advisors to help them accomplish their goals throughout the fellowship process. The advising process begins with the application process, when all applicants who advance beyond the first stage will be paired with an application advisor with expertise in their field to help them fine-tune their business plans. Embark fellows will be paired with a coach who will serve as a long-term mentor throughout the year of the fellowship. Additionally, SII will connect fellows with individuals and community organizations that can offer short-term guidance on specific aspects of their venture.
Professional Services — Fellows are given access to a network of professionals who have agreed to provide their services to Embark fellows as gifts in kind. Our network includes the services most in demand to start-ups including legal, design, tech, marketing, and communications. Our hope is that these services help fellows achieve the concrete steps necessary to advance Embark ventures, and also introduce fellows to a professional network that will begin to build their career foundations.
Fellows are also expected to support the expansion and vitality of Brown's entrepreneurship community by contributing 3-5 hours per month of their own time advising current students, holding office hours, leading a group discussion on campus, or sharing their experiences with Embark applicants for the next year.
The goal of Embark is to support select ventures each year that present the most compelling case for potential impact after graduation. Embark provides fellows with financial resources, structure, coaching, professional services, and connections with a network of alumni and local innovators necessary for recent grads to pursue their venture full time after graduation. Our goal is to advance Embark ventures within one year to the point of raising their own sustainable funding.
The financial resources are a salary replacement. If your venture requires funding to build expensive prototypes or other large capital expenditures then you will need to demonstrate your plan to attain separate additional funds.
What are the selection criteria?
In deciding whether you are an appropriate fit for this fellowship, keep in mind our primary selection criteria: Does this venture have what it takes to be self-sustaining in one year with our support? "Self-sustaining" could take on different meanings for different ventures. Some ventures will grow into a self-sustaining business after one year, others will establish the proof of concept to secure independent fundraising, and some may be looking to apply for nationally or internationally-recognized incubators and fellowships. What is most important is that applicants are able to articulate specific, measurable goals to take their venture to the next level and identify the resources necessary to get them there.
Who is eligible?
- The Embark Fellowship is open to undergraduate and graduate students in their final year. Applications may be completed by individuals or teams of up to three. Applicants should be founders or some comparable role. Unfortunately, we are unable to consider applications from students graduating mid year.
- The Embark Fellowship is targeted at early stage ventures. Some ventures will have an established track record of success as a student-led organization. Other ventures may consist of a well-constructed business plan backed up by founder with a track record of success and relevant expertise.
What if I have already received Swearer Center or SII funds?
The Embark Fellowship is a natural extension of other Swearer Center and SII grants, fellowships, and programs such as the SIF. However, having been previously awarded SII funding does not necessarily impact a venture's chances of selection. To the extent that applicants have benefited from these structured opportunities for growth during their time as a student, these previous experiences may improve an applicant's chance of selection. However, we are eager to review a wide range of ventures that may or may not have been previously engaged with Social Innovation Initiative programs.
Applications for the 2018 cohort will open in the Spring of 2018.
Please note that we are happy to work with you throughout the application process as it may have to be customized to fit the needs of your venture.