What We Do

Since its launch in 2007, the Social Innovation Initiative has advised and invested in over 100 students with big ideas for social change. Our students start their own social ventures and shake up broken systems here in Rhode Island and around the world. SII's programming is focused in four key areas: venture support, academic connections, on-campus activities, and life beyond Brown. All of our work is supported and made possible by the powerful network of change-makers who are starting, working for, and contributing to social impact ventures around the world - this network includes students, alumni, and friends across Brown, Providence, and beyond. 

Venture Support

Our premiere program is the Social Innovation Fellowship, which provides 15-20 students with up to $4,000 to grow a social venture over the summer, supported by a year of intensive skills training, corresponding coursework, and a community of social entrepreneurs on campus offering mentorship and critique. Students building early-stage ventures can also apply for grants on a rolling basis from the Brown Venture Launch Fund, which supplies $500 Explore grants, $1,500 Expand Grants, and $5,000 Accelerate grants to all kinds of ventures led by Brown students. Weekly open office hours are also available with our staff for support, advice, and guidance for any student building a venture.

Academic Connections

Boosted by Brown's open curriculum and culture of intellectual independence, we aim to define a dynamic path for student changemakers from orientation to post-grad planning. In all of our academic initiatives, consistent and comprehensive one-on-one advising plays a critical role. We have also developed several new courses in collaboration with other departments at Brown - including "Social Entrepreneurship", "Tools for Development", "Context Research for Innovation" and "Leading Social Ventures" - that offer cross-disciplinary and experiential approaches to social innovation. A new Masters in Public Affairs Degree with a concentration in Social Innovation and Nonprofit Leadership was launched this fall at the Taubman Center for Public Policy in partnership with SII. The first of its kind nationwide, this program offers a strong theoretical foundation as well as opportunities for experiential learning through internships and capstone projects. We continue to advise a growing number of students that are making social innovation the center of their academic experience at Brown through the creation of an Independent Concentration in Social Innovation.

On-Campus Activities

SII supports campus-wide initiatives that will create new avenues for students to plug into the social innovation movement at Brown, in the community, and with each other. Brown's recent selection as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U - and host of the global 2014 Ashokua U Exchange - recognizes its campus-wide commitment to social innovation as a critical piece of student learning and campus culture. We support student groups like A Better World By Design, Design for America, SEEED@Brown, and others who are actively engaging the Brown community in learning and connection with social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Beyond Brown

As well as preparing students to lead in their lives beyond Brown, we also help connect them to job, internship, and other fellowship or funding opportunities that align with their undergraduate passions and goals. Brown's CareerLAB program, Careers in the Common Good, is a partner in identifying and spreading awareness about such opportunities. We also connect regularly with alumni and partnering organizations, such as Ashoka, to recruit students for fulfilling work that adds value to high-impact, mission-driven ventures.