• Resources

    The New School's Social Innovation Initiative fosters opportunities for students and faculty to engage across colleges in interdisciplinary learning, research, and practice that contributes to real-world problem solving. Below is an overview of competitions, fellowships, grant opportunities, and special events focused on social innovation and social entrepreneurship at The New School and outside the university. Click here to download the 2012 Social Innovation Resource Guide (PDF) for a guide to these opportunities and more.

  • Programs and Events

    Social Innovation Initiative hosts a variety of programs and events designed to accelerate, broaden, and deepen social entrepreneurship and social innovation education at the university. These initiatives include theNew Challenge, which provides seed funds and mentoring opportunities for innovative student-initiated projects that address pressing social and environmental issues, and the Social Innovation Speaker Series. Follow our ongoing activities on the Social Innovation Initiative Blog.


    New Challenge

    Now in its second year, New Challenge is a call to action directed at New School students who are committed to working on local and global challenges in innovative ways. The purpose of New Challenge is to foster student critical thinking and action and promote understanding of root causes of social and environmental problems affecting our world. New Challenge encourages students of all disciplines across the university to submit their ideas for projects (product or service designs, social ventures, performance pieces, films, songs, technology apps, etc.) for a New Challenge grant. Be sure to visit the site to get up-to-date information on how to apply.

    Ashoka Changemakers Competitions

    hangemakers is a global online community based on supporting social entrepreneurs everywhere by connecting them with others for inspiration, mentoring, and collaboration at all levels. Changemakers hosts interactive online competitions to identify and connect the best social innovators and implementers. Participants compete to offer the most promising solutions to identified problems and then collaborate to refine, develop, and implement the best proposals. Changemakers builds on Ashoka's three decades of transforming the citizen sector by building the largest association of social entrepreneurs in the world.

    CGI U

    Each year, CGI U hosts a meeting at which students, national youth organizations, experts, and celebrities discuss solutions to pressing global issues. To attend CGI U, you must develop a Commitment to Action, a plan of action that addresses a pressing need on your campus, in your community, or in another part of the world.


    Challenge:Future is a global youth think tank creating a community of talent and ideas for the world that works for all. The annual competition is a global Web-based innovation contest built on ideas of radical inclusiveness, open collaboration, and embedded sustainability.

    Dell Social Innovation Challenge

    The Dell Social Innovation Challenge identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world's most pressing problems and their transformative ideas. It provides university students with world-class teaching and training, as well as start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisors.

    Fast Pitch Competition

    The AT&T and Baruch College Fast Pitch Competition is a business competition in which teams have the chance to competitively pitch their business ideas in one of three tracks: wealth, education and health, and enjoyment.

    Imagine Cup

    Microsoft's Imagine Cup is a worldwide student technology competition. While competing with peers from around the world, students gain real-life experience and turn their ideas into reality. Bright young minds join together and, using technology, take on the world's toughest problems.

    Pepsi Refresh Project

    A powerful brand serves as a catalyst for change. With the Pepsi Refresh Project, Pepsico funds ideas that promise to move the world forward in six categories: Health, Arts and Culture, Food and Shelter, the Planet, Neighborhoods, and Education. The project promotes social engagement of people and the power of ideas.

    The Policy Challenge

    Arizona State University's School of Public Affairs has been working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to design a national policy proposal competition. The aim is to develop ideas proposed through the Startup America Policy Challenge on how federal agencies might break down barriers to entrepreneurship and best enable the use of new technologies in health care, education, clean energy, and the environment.

    seToolbelt Competition

    seToolbelt is an open-content resource hub that helps social entrepreneurs plan, launch, manage, and grow successful new social enterprises. seToolbelt hosts an annual competition for original tools and resources for social enterprise. The organization looks for innovative, practical, real-life responses to the challenges that arise in social enterprises so that it can help make these original tools available to the wider community of social entrepreneurs.

    The Unreasonable Institute

    The Unreasonable Institute is an annual event that brings the most daring young entrepreneurs in the world together in one place where they can obtain legal advice and design consulting, form relationships with up to 30 impact-investment funds, and prepare to launch financially self-sustaining, globally scalable ventures designed to serve the needs of at least one million people. The goal is to put the right pieces in place to ensure that the selected participants' ventures will take flight.


    Ashoka U Exchange

    Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education

    The Ashoka U Exchange connects higher education leaders with social entrepreneurs to transform education into a world-changing experience.

    Youth Entrepreneurship Summit: Startup America

    The Youth Entrepreneurship Summit (YES) brings together business, government, foundation, and community leaders and young entrepreneurs to build Startup America, a White House initiative to promote high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.


    The Black Male Achievement Fellowship

    The Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship is a new fellowship program by Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green dedicated to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys in the United States. It targets social entrepreneurs who are starting up new and innovative organizations in the field of black male achievement. The BMA Fellowship includes start-up capital and technical assistance over 18 months to help new leaders launch and build their organizations; access to technical support and pro-bono partnerships; and a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders.

    Echoing Green Fellowship

    Echoing Green offers a two-year fellowship program that supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs whose organizations hold promise of delivering bold, high-impact solutions to society's most difficult problems.

    IDEO.org Fellowship Class

    IDEO.org was launched to spread human-centered design through the social sector and improve the lives of people in low-income communities across the globe. IDEO.org is being launched this September and looking for its first class of residents to build empathy, generate ideas, prototype concepts, and deliver solutions.

    StartingBloc Fellowship

    tartingBloc Fellowships are given to young leaders who are addressing the pressing global challenges of our time. Our fellows gain access to the resources they need and to a tight-knit community of social innovators across the country and around the world.

    Women's World Banking Fellowship Program

    The WWB Fellowship Program enables future global leaders in microfinance and women's economic empowerment to experience the challenges and rewards of contributing to an organization that works diligently to create financial opportunities for low-income women. Over a two-year period, Fellows will deliver solutions for organization and network member institutions concerning an array of microfinance initiatives.

    Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program

    Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program identifies and supports inspiring young entrepreneurs whose work helps alleviate domestic poverty. This competitive program is open to entrepreneurs who are operating viable businesses in the United States with the dual purpose of making a difference and making a living. In addition to a $40,000 grant, it provides awardees with the ingredients they need to succeed, including leadership development, business mentoring, technical assistance, and access to a network of peers and advisers.