Social Innovation FellowshipsWhether you are an experienced social innovator or are looking to build your skill set, a fellowship can help take you to the next level–through curriculum, mentorship, collaboration, and connecting with other talented and motivated fellows.Here is a list of 50+ fellowship programs. The first 17 or so fellowships have rolling admission deadlines. The remainder are grouped by the month the application is due.  The fellowships support social innovation to varying degrees and have varying requirements—so take a stroll and click through the links to continue your research.

You can add other social innovation fellowships in the comments section. Look for a list of start-up accelerator and incubators for social entrepreneurs here.
50+ Fellowship Programs for Social Innovators
  1. Ashoka Fellows Program. Apply anytime.
  2. Deshpande Foundation India Fellowship Program. Apply anytime.
  3. Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. Apply anytime.
  4. Mind Trust Education Entrepreneur Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  5. Rainer Arnhold Design Fellowship Program. Apply anytime.
  6. REDF Farber Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  7. Reynolds Fellowships Harvard University.
  8. Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program.
  9. PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows Program. Apply by invitation.
  10. TED Senior Fellows Program. Selected from Past Fellows.
  11. IDEO Fellowship Program.
  12. Teach for America. Multiple deadlines.
  13. Ashoka Senior Fellows & Members. Apply anytime.
  14. Ashoka Global Fellows. Apply anytime.
  15. Ashoka Social Investment Entrepreneur Fellows. Apply anytime.
  16. Ashoka Invention and Technology Fellows Program. Apply anytime.
  17. Ashoka News & Knowledge Fellows. Apply anytime.
  18. MicroEmpowering Social Innovation Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  19. MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship. Apply anytime.
  20. Teach for India. Multiple deadlines
  21. MacArthur Fellows Program. Apply by invitation.
  22. Aspen Institute First Movers Fellowship Program. Apply by January.
  23. MIT Legatum Center Fellowship. Apply by January.
  24. IDEX Fellowship. Apply by January.
  25. Echoing Green Fellowship. Apply by January.
  26. American India Foundation Fellowship. Apply by January.
  27. Greenlining Institute Legal Fellows Program. Apply by January.
  28. NYU Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship. Apply by January or February.
  29. Greenlining Institute Fellowship Program. Apply by February.
  30. Engineers for Social Impact. Apply by February.
  31. City Hall Fellows Program. Apply by February.
  32. Crowley Fellowship in International Human Rights. Apply by February.
  33. Public Allies Teachers Fellowship Program. Apply by February.
  34. Stanford – NBC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health. Apply by February.
  35. Cordes Fellowship for Opportunity Collaboration. Apply by March.
  36. Global Health Corps. Apply by March.
  37. Grassroutes India Fellowship Program. Apply by March.
  38. Indicorp Fellowship. Apply by March.
  39. PopTech Social Innovation Fellows Program. Apply by March.
  40. Changing Our World Fellowships. Apply by March.
  41. Acumen Fund East Africa Fellows Program. Apply by April.
  42. Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Apply by April.
  43. Global Citizen Year. Apply by May.
  44. Villgro Fellowship. Apply by May.
  45. D.Light Design Fellowship. Apply by May.
  46. Rolex Awards Supporting Enterprising Individuals. Apply by June.
  47. Humphrey Fellowship Program: Journalism Fellowships. Apply by June to September.
  48. TED Fellows Program. Apply by July.
  49. Synergos Senior Fellows Program
. Apply by July.
  50. LGT Venture Philanthropy iCats Fellowship Program. Apply by July.
  51. Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship. Apply by July.
  52. Open Society Fellowship. Apply by August.
  53. Piramal Fellowship for Sustainable Business. Apply by September.
  54. Skadden Legal Fellowship Program. Apply by October.
  55. Kiva Fellowship. Apply by October.
  56. Buckminister Fuller Challenge. Apply by October.
  57. StartingBloc Fellowship Program. Apply by October.
  58. EmergeCA Democratic Fellowship Program for Women. Apply by October.
  59. Fuse Corps Fellowship.  Apply by October.
  60. Woodrow Wilson Center Fellowships. Apply by October.
  61. PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowships. Apply by October or November.
  62. Smithsonian Institute Fellowship. Apply by November.
  63. Unreasonable Institute. Apply by November.
  64. Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program. Apply by November.
  65. Fried Frank Legal Fellowship Program. Apply by November.
  66. Soros Fellowships for New Americans. Apply by November.
  67. New Leaders Council. Apply by November.
  68. Fellowship for Women Scholar-Practitioners from Developing Nations. Apply by November.
  69. Sauvé Scholars Program. Apply by November.
  70. TEDGlobal Fellows Program. Apply by December.
  71. Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society Fellowship Program. Apply by December.
  72. Nieman Journalism Fellowships at Harvard University. Apply by December
  73. Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship. Apply by December.
  74. LeapFrog Investments Global Fellows Program. Apply by December.
  75. M121 Fellowship for Sustainable World Change. Apply by December.
  76. Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program. Concluding in 2013.
California Capitol Building ceilingIn reviewing the last batch of the nearly 600 bills that he had to process, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law both social innovation bills—just in time for the midnight deadline on October 10th, 2011.Both AB 361 (benefit corporations) and SB 201 (flexible purpose corporations) which create new legal structures for social enterprise are now officially California law.You can read the key points of each bill here.Read the official legislative update from the Governor’s office here.

California is #6

The passage of the benefit corporation legislation makes California the 6th state to recognize a new form of corporation that is for-profit and committed to creating a positive impact on society and the environment. California joins Maryland, Vermont, Hawaii, Virginia, and New Jersey in the benefit corporation club.

A Look Back

If you have been following the benefit corporation legislation movement on the B Corporation public policy page, here on Innov8Social, or on any number of sites following the developments, you may have been awaiting the midnight decision.

You can catch up on the progress of AB 361 in California:

A Look Ahead
Non-urgent bills such AB 361 and SB 201 signed into law will become effective January 1st, 2012. Until then, social entrepreneurs interested in becoming among the first benefit corporations in California, can use the time to decide which legal structure is the best fit, and become prepared to meet the various requirements.
Attorney Donald Simon shares some tips on how a company can get ready for benefit corporation certification or re-certification as a benefit corporation in these two videos:

Attorney Donald Simon Defines 3 Terms Related to AB 361 (Benefit Corporations) [VIDEO]

Attorney Donald Simon’s Q & A on California Benefit Corporation Legislation [VIDEO]


Today we joined multiple groups of volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank in Santa Clara to sort food that will be distributed to those in need in the Bay area.
The task
Sort these
Donated tomatoes
Into bags like these
Sorting & bagging tomatoes
And tie the bags so they look like this
Sorted tomatoes in tied bags
Straightforward, right? 
The task presented was seemingly straightforward. But as the work started, the 50 or so folks working the tomatoes realized inefficiencies in the process.
For example, as most people began the task of bagging tomatoes and bringing untied bags to the volunteers tying and counting the bags, we began to notice a bottleneck. The bags of tomatoes were coming through much faster than the tying and counting teams could process.
Over the course of 3 hours, we came up with innovative fixes to improve workflow. A few of us joined the tying team to expedite the process. But with the flow of bags still coming in strong, someone suggested an ‘overflow bin’ so that the untied bags would not clutter the workspace (and worse, wouldn’t fall, spill, and otherwise waste tomatoes).
Within a few iterations, we settled into an effective, innovative solution. Two carrying bins. We had the majority of bag tying volunteers work through on the bags in the main bin while the overflow bin filled up. Then we would switch the large bins so that overflow bin became the main one, and the formerly-main one became the overflow bin.With these few changes we were able to expedite the sorting process, maximize the volunteer efforts, and minimize waste of tomatoes due to inefficiency.
Always space for innovation
Even if the workflow and fixes don’t make total sense, it was illuminating to see that there is always space for innovation. Even in the simple task of sorting tomatoes. And it was additionally enlightening to note that much of the real-time innovation that occurred happened organically—without meetings, or supervisory direction—it was just input from individual volunteers (who on the whole did not know each other), the willingness of other volunteers to try new methods, and the enthusiasm of getting the job done, and doing it well.
And while a few of them may need a little time to ripen, at the end of the volunteer day, we created 3000 bags of tomatoes and over 50 boxes that are ready to be distributed to people, families, and organizations in the area.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” says nothing about what a picture shared is worth. As sharing information online has become only likes, tweets, and reshares away, social entrepreneurs and social innovators are finding new ways to harness Web 2.0 to articulate the social impact of their business ideas. They are thinking outside the graph for new ways to tell a story.

Infographics – Powerful tools in storytelling

One powerful tool in storytelling is the infographic. What likely started with creative interpretations of bar, pie, and line graphs has morphed into an art form of its own. It has become a quest to make statistics compelling—both in what they say and how they say it.

An infographic is short-form for information graphic. It is a visual depiction of a set of statistical information, data sets, or procedural/organizational flow. is a place to post and share infographics

One site that is becoming a library of infographics, is Currently a place to showcase and distribute image-rich infographics, the site is also working on tools to create infographics.

As explains it “Infographics and data visualizations are shifting the way people find and experience stories, creating a new way of seeing the world of data. They help communicate complex ideas in a clear, compact and beautiful way, taking deep data and presenting it in visual shorthand.”

How can using infographics help social innovators?

  • providing a visual way to manage multiple variables (i.e. monetary profit, social impact profit, financial cost, environmental cost, community involvement etc.)
  • depicting how your company can achieve a competitive triple bottom line
  • creating an elaborate flow chart to connect the different players in the supply chain
  • showing various sources and levels of funding that will be required
  • illustrating ‘the cause’ the company is addressing and the mission of how it will impact change
  • setting your social venture apart from the competition

A few infographics from

Here are are a few cause-related infographics from the library. You can create an account and add any that your company has been working on.










Silicon Valley feels dimmer after Steve Jobs…but the world lights brighter from the technology he created.Steve JobsInnovation is often the degree foolishness and failure receive upon graduation.Innovation, at its core, is the breadth and depth of idea and solution without regard to limitation. It is freedom to connect unlike things in ways that have not been imagined before, and which can improve existence and humanity in some way.

And though seemingly unrelated to law, law is the structure in which innovation lives.

Governor Jerry Brown will decide by Sunday October 9, 2011 whether both, either, or neither of the 2 bills creating new avenues for social innovation will become law in California.

Will benefit corporations and/or flexible purpose corporations become effective tools by which business and social impact can progress?

The story ahead is hard to predict, but as a 27-year old Steve Jobs told the Academy of Achievement in 1982 [listen here]:

“One of the things that motivates a lot of people…[who] actually get out and do something in any different field is that we all eat food that other people cook, wear clothing that other people make, speak a language that other people evolved, and use someone else’s mathematics….and we’re sort of taking from this giant pool, constantly.”

The most ecstatic thing in the whole world is actually to put something back…it’s the most ecstatic thing that I’ve encountered. So I would highly recommend it.”

Innov8Social is 4 months old! And the thanks for its growth and reach goes to you.

Kudos to You
Here are a few things that you can pat yourself on the back for:
  • has had thousands of unique visitors from 53 countries and 450 different cities
  • We have seen a 250% increase in month-over-month pageview traffic
  • And, there’s an exponential increase in the number of people finding Innov8Social through online search engines


The Gift of Sustainable Food, Thanks to Lotus FoodsTo provide a meaningful thank you gift, we partnered with Lotus Foods—a premiere sustainable rice company that has pioneered the introduction of exotic rice handcrafted on small family farms in remote areas of the world. Lotus Food provided some excellent & tasty grains at SOCAP11, and we had a chance to learn more about the company and concept there from one of the co-founders.Special Discount

Lotus Foods is generously offering Innov8Social readers a one-time 10% discount on your entire online order, ending October 31, 2011. Just go to our Facebook page for the discount code.

Lotus Foods logo
for discount code: Go to Facebook/Innov8Social

More About Lotus Foods

  • Lotus Foods was founded with the intent and vision to support sustainable global agriculture by promoting production of traditional heirloom rice varieties…while enabling the small family rice farmer to earn an honorable living.
  • Lotus Fods is the only U.S.-based company with the unique vision and commitment to seek out small family rice farmers in developing countries and provide them a means of economic support through access to a global and sustainable marketplace economy.
  • Lotus Foods has become a leader in the specialty rice category.
  • Lotus Foods served as a panelist in a discussion about poverty alleviation, organized by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008, along with distinguished experts such as Madeline Albright and Raj Shah.


Thank You

Innov8Social has been a unique project on so many levels—producing content that is relevant and useful, finding ways to reach out to you, using avenues of social media to connect, and recognizing this blog not only as a place to write about social innovation but as a platform for enabling it.

We are off to an exciting start.  Thank you for reading, for sharing, for engaging. Most of all, thank you for your interest in the field of social innovation—the fact that we have been around for four months and feel like we are only scratching the surface of social innovation is just evidence that the field is growing and change is happening.
do lectures logo
One of the boons of attending a conference like Social Capital Markets (SOCAP11, more here) is connecting with others who are in a similar space of work. You know you have at least one thing in common, you’re here too. And you won’t know what you will learn from them until you strike up a conversation. For example, I learned about the Do Lectures from a fellow SOCAP-er. (Hat tip @CivicSponsor — check out the website & concept,

What are the Do Lectures? The Do Lectures is a weekend of talks held in Wales, England with a fairly intimate group (i.e. 80 attendees, 30 speakers in the 2011 event) in which there are talks by people who have been nominated by virtue of their success and inspire-ability in areas such as business, design, environment, food, sports, technology, and health.

It was launched in 2008 by David and Clare Hieatt (creators of the popular UK active, organic clothing line howies). And the Do Lectures had their first U.S. session this past September, aptly named Do USA 2011.

As described by one of the founders:

“The idea is a simple one— that people who Do things can inspire the rest of us to go and Do things, too. So each year we invite a set of people down here to come and tell us what they Do.” – DAVID HIEATT


With a sizeable sticker price in the range of $3000 (plus transportation) making the trip is a commitment. As explained on the website, the cost pays for the resources required to record and put the Do Lectures online, free for anyone to view.

Is it worth it?

Any social entrepreneur will tell you that determining the value of any event or opportunity is purely subjective. You may gain loads from free event, from volunteering, or from a chat over coffee. But sometimes, to reach the next level in your field, you have to dig deep. In your pockets and in your commitment to finding and making opportunities worthwhile.

I haven’t been to the Do Lectures…but here’s how @CivicSponsor describes it in tweet:

Someone once asked me, “Are the  worth it?” It’s simple: sell your car, go to the . It’s worth it (and bikes rule). – @CivicSponsor

Do on iTunes

Want to experience the wow factor of Do Lectures. Lucky you, they’re posted online. I had the best luck in listening and watching on my smartphone through iTunes.

Feel free to share your favorite Do Lectures below.

I had a chance to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity a few weeks ago. Before gearing up and installing sideboards on a 36-unit complex in Daly City (by climbing on the scaffolding!), all of the volunteers were given an orientation about the organization, initiatives in the community, and safety.Habitat for Humanity Foreclosure Buying ProgramThe volunteer coordinator explained Habitat for Humanity’s innovative response to the spike in local foreclosures over the past few years. Building a house from scratch, is time-consuming and requires many steps from acquiring land, to designing a home, to building the home.
Habitat For Humanity
Re-furbishing an existing home, in comparison, can be a more efficient use of resources. And can enable Habit for Humanity to create more home ownership opportunities for more families.With that end result in mind, Habit for Humanity has begun partnering with banks to purchase foreclosed homes. The organization than utilizes its team of volunteers and staff to update the home and make it move-in ready.


The volunteer coordinator alluded to Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) sentiment that many neighborhoods hold with regards to new Habitat for Humanity build projects. (i.e. “sure, it’s great that Habit builds new homes, but NIMBY…”

Refurbishing foreclosed homes is a completely different ballgame. And often has neighborhood residents singing a different tune.

Updating older homes, improving their curb appeal can have a rippling positive effect. Other neighbors in the area often also decide to update their homes to keep pace, and neglected neighborhoods have the chance to take steps toward revitalization.

Read more:

Banks help Habitat for Humanity buy empty homes (SF Gate)


This past week featured the 2nd Annual Social Good Summit in New York hosted by Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, 92nd Street Y, and sponsored by Ericsson. The tagline for the summit was “new power. new players. new platforms” and was studded with superstars—from the media, government, social innovation, and the non-profit sector.

And thanks to live webcasting through Livestream, the hundreds of attendees in the audience were joined by hundreds more tuning in virtually. I can’t speak to what the live experience was, but I can provide a perspective on what it was like to attend the Social Good Summit virtually.

What is the purpose of the Social Good Summit?

As stated, the Summit “unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.” And from listening in to various sessions, there was definitely an effort to open the stage for speakers to connect with those in the audience and those tuning in virtually. Speakers used valuable time on center stage to mention websites, Twitter handles, online campaigns, actual and virtual ways to support, and even job and internship opportunities.

Emphasis on Space

There seemed to be an emphasis on creating space.
Rather than a few action-packed days of 6-8 hours of material, the Social Good Summit spanned 4 days, started at 1pm EST each day, and featured 4 hours of center-stage discussions. This created space to cover and post about the event live and in real-time.

Likewise, the presentations were of varied length but were all well-suited for the easily-distracted social media participant…with no discussion spanning longer than 45 minutes, and a few running just 7 minutes. And there were scheduled breaks—space to add a few more people on Twitter or look up a few organizations on Wikipedia or become a fan of a few related Facebook pages.

And as I learned through Facebook and Twitter updates from attendees, there was emphasis on physical space at the conference too, with a designated lounge for bloggers, tweeters, and social media cadre to write, talk to others, conduct interviews, and post about the event.

Emphasis on Youth

From tuning in to Livestream, the conference seemed to be especially geared towards the youngest of social entrepreneurs. With sessions such as “Next Generation Leadership”, to “Youth & Humanitarian Action” with Monique Coleman to “YouthQake: How Young People & Technology Are Changing the World” and “HMU (Hit Me UP!): Young People, Mobile, and Social Change” no one was too young to have a seat at the Social Good Summit.

And reasonable ticket prices for physical attendees and free livestream for virtual ones made it easier for  bootstrapped social entrepreneurs, non-profits, and perhaps especially–youth to attend.

Emphasis on Big Ideas

There’s something that happens when you hear from pioneers, leaders, and trend-setters in a field. You tend to find yourself inspired to pursue your own big ideas.

Whether it was Barbara Bush speaking about the story of Global Health Corps, Ted Turner sharing his advice for success and also flexing his sense of humor, Serena Williams talking about her commitment to education in Africa, Christy Turlington telling the moving story how her serious maternal health issue inspired her to make a global statement and how her work led her to connect with blogger sensation Heather Armstrong of Dooce, or Randi Zuckerberg talking about the role of Facebook in stopping the spread of malaria, or Dr. Raj Shah of USAID categorically explaining the food sustainability issues the world could be facing—whether it was any of those speakers who caught your eye, what they may left with you is the inspiration and belief that no matter how far-flung or non-conventional ideas for social good are, they are possible.

And as the Social Good Summit illustrated, increasingly, the vehicle from impossible to possible social entrepreneurship is powered by technology and social media.

Do you enjoy reading new posts on Innov8Social? Well now you can continue your reading on SocialEarth! I am a new contributor on the site and will be posting there a few times per month.  You can check out my first post here.

What is SocialEarth?

SocialEarth is a network of bloggers worldwide writing about social entrepreneurship. And according to its stated objectives, it “seeks, promotes, and supports social entrepreneurs…who have the audacity to create mindful businesses where profitability is a necessary objective and solving a ‘social ill’ is an imperative.”
SocialEarth LogoAnd SocialEarth is establishing a presence. With over 13,000 Twitter followers and 14,000+ Facebook fans, the site distributes posts to its homepage and social network channels, as well as through RSS syndication.
It is also developing a readership base with hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per year, and growing.
The site is a novel attempt to inform the public about social entrepreneurship, connect social entrepreneurs, and spread the word about new and emerging trends in the field.

A Few Interesting Reads on SocialEarth

Innov8Social on SocialEarth
You can keep up with Innov8Social on SocialEarth here:
I look forward to writing posts on SocialEarth that ask questions, build on ideas presented in Innov8Social, and connect with existing efforts of SocialEarth contributors. It is a great forum and fantastic way to continue exploring social innovation.