What does it mean to be a Social Innovation Fellow?

“Passions that fill up a room, ideas that flow endlessly, and innovation that creates social impact- that is the Social Innovation Fellows experience. It’s not every day that you get to work with such creative, entrepreneurial, and compassionate thinkers and doers.” – Sofia Abdo, Senior Fellow, 2018

Calling all students who want to make meaningful change in the world!

The Social Innovation Fellows are undergraduate and graduate students from all corners of campus who are interested in becoming change makers – social entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries who have a dream to change the world – and who are developing new methods to solve society’s greatest challenges.

The Social Innovation Fellows is for students who:

  • want to work hands-on with a network of community partners to create real world impact locally and globally;
  • are passionate about changing the world and want to explore a social challenge related to the UN Sustainability Goals;
  • want to gain valuable experience, connections, and insight into starting and maintaining a successful social enterprise.

The Pillars of the Social Innovation Fellows


Leading with self – DISCOVER Your Passion!

Fellows will be empowered to find and pursue their passion for social change. An open and supportive environment will encourage Fellows to learn adaptive skills such as self-agency and empathy, and cultivate a sense of purpose. Fellows will be challenged to understand a problem deeply before jumping into an entrepreneurial pursuit. Gaining perspectives from peers across disciplines will help Fellows build solutions that are culturally sensitive and informed by diverse thought.

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Leading with others – DESIGN Your Solution!

Fellows will form well-rounded teams and have access to a Brain Trust of experts that will expand knowledge and connections and provide valuable market feedback. Learning resilience and building confidence through “failing forward” is essential to becoming a successful entrepreneur and instrumental to the design process. Fellows will explore what is means to become creative problem solvers.

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Do Good

Leading with community – DO GOOD!

Through deeper campus and community engagement, Fellows will build stakeholders and scale their venture idea. Fellows will learn technical skills to build a viable venture. Deep understanding and alignment of social problem with solutions will produce well-designed ventures with integrity of mission and serve to attract allies and investors. Fellows will engage in working toward systemic change and acknowledgment of where and how their venture serves to greater good.

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Fellows Expectations

Social Innovation Fellows will combine emphasis on learning both adaptive skills to become successful social entrepreneurs and innovators, and technical skills to ideate and eventually launch a social project, product, policy or enterprise.

Fellows will be required to meet at least once per month with their team and in addition, participate in a skills-based Innovation Lab with other teams and students.

Select readings and resources will accompany the monthly topic. Site visits, focus groups, and tools such as life mapping, appreciative inquiry and case studies will enhance the Fellow experience. Brain Trust members will be on hand to provide ongoing mentoring and team coaching. Fellows’ work will culminate in a celebratory networking and pitch event to win seed funding.

Teams will receive a micro-investment of $1,000 for prototyping and development and a graduation cord upon completion of the program.

Learn more about the 2019-20 Fellows' Projects

Haiti Goat Project

A social enterprise led by Professor Char Farin from the NC State Department of Animal Science, this project helps support the Haitian agricultural community and provide nutritious school lunches to children from rural Haiti in grades pre-K through 6th. The Fellows will be working to prepare the organization to serve more areas and broaden fundraising.

Reborn Clothing Co.

A startup created by NC State student Emily Neville, Reborn Clothing Co. reduces textile waste by upcycling unused garments into new products  The Fellows will be helping them to manage growth while still being an ethically-sourced and mission-driven business.

700 Rivers

700 Rivers is a startup founded by NC State alum Catherina Gomes to employ women who have escaped sex trafficking in Bangladesh. To support its mission, the company intends to create handmade artisan soaps using sustainable materials and packaging. Their Fellows plan to assist with business development and branding in order to help launch the startup.

Our Wave

Our Wave, a nonprofit founded by NC State alum Kyle Linton, provides an anonymous online platform for survivors of sexual assault to share their stories and support one another. The Fellows team will be assisting them with outreach and spreading awareness.

Water in the Fields

Part of a health program run by the NC Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry, the Water in the Fields project has the mission of alleviating the challenges of NC Farmworkers who work long hours in the sun with limited access to water. Their Fellows team will help test the efficacy of their water bottle program while offering ideas and planning for next steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

 As a co-curricular opportunity, does the Social Innovation Fellows meet other University requirements or enhance my academic pursuits in some way?
In some cases, serving as a Fellow will fulfill other scholar requirements.* Social Innovation Fellows aims to build from existing campus assets, complementing coursework for students enrolled in entrepreneurship offerings by providing a cohesive co-curricular learning pathway. The Fellows can serve as an in-depth follow-on to the first year project work of the Goodnight Scholars or a service learning experience for Caldwell Fellows; or offer a supportive framework for students in business, design, engineering and textiles to continue exploration of market-based ventures and prototyping that have positive social impact.
*Social Innovation Fellows is an approved Civic Engagement Initiative for Park Scholars

What incentives and benefits accompany this Fellows opportunity?
Fellows completing all requirements will receive a cord to be worn at graduation. A $1000 per team micro-investment for development and prototyping will be made available, as will site visits to local start up communities and networking with our "Brain Trust" of campus and business entrepreneurs to develop resources and connections that could support future endeavors.

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