The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards three $5,000 seed grants each year to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. We encourage applications not only for the creation of new for-profit or non-profit organizations, but also for research and development (R&D) of innovative ideas and to pilot or scale programs that exist independently or within an existing organization.


  • Eligibility and Selection Criteria

    Projects or ventures must address a social problem; be sustainable, scalable, and/or replicable; and have potential for impact. We are not looking only to seed emerging organizations or companies; we also encourage applications for innovative projects implemented within already-established organizations. Entries can be for-profit, non-profit, hybrid, or have no legal structure. They can be U.S.-based or international.

    Teams may be made up of one or more members, but at least one member must be a current Wesleyan undergraduate. 

    Judges will assess both the applicant/team and the project/venture. The quality of the idea, execution plan, and team will be most important in selecting grantees; in particular, judges will look for applicant(s) who have tested their ideas in real-world settings or have meticulous plans for doing that. Severity of the social problem and potential for impact will be secondary.

    Characteristics that the judges will look for include:

    The Applicant(s):

    • Passion – commitment to the problem or field, commitment to Wesleyan, personal integrity, tenacity
    • Leadership – leadership and entrepreneurial potential, connections to strong mentors/advisors, confidence and humility 
    • Commitment – will leverage this grant to catalyze their project/venture and their own future as a social entrepreneur

    The Project/Venture:

    • Importance – addresses a compelling social problem
    • Innovation – demonstrates a new or better approach or fills a gap; has a unique value proposition
    • Organization – well-designed with clear objectives, adequate personnel and partnerships, data strategy, financial plan, etc.
    • Feasibility – grant could be spent effectively before December 31, 2019
    • Sustainability – has a strong financial model and leadership structure; likely to continue past 2019 or has a strong exit strategy
    • Potential for Impact – theory of change has been tested or project/venture has been prototyped; solution is evidence-based; has the potential to create change

    Read about past Seed Grant winners: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

  • Timeline

    By September 1

    Grant specs announced

    September 1-January 27

    Applications accepted and advising appointments available

    To apply, first compile the necessary materials, then submit your application using this form

    Every Friday during fall semester, 12-2 p.m.

    Drop-ins to learn more or work on your application, Allbritton 022

    Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend these sessions and/or schedule advising appointments here

    January 27

    Round 1 Applications due

    Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. EST will not be considered

    January 28-February 4

    Judges review Round 1 applications

    Aggregated judge feedback will be sent to all applicants on February 5

    February 5

    Seed Grant finalists announced on the ENGAGE blog


    February 5-28

    Preparations for Seed Grant finals

    Finalists will be required to make progress on their projects/ventures, submit additional application materials, and attend coaching sessions to prepare for live pitches on March 1

    March 1, 12-1 p.m.

    Seed Grant Finals

    Open to the public and livestreamed. Followed by private interviews with judges.

    March 4

    2019 Seed Grant announcement


  • Round 1

    Applicants will be required to submit a well-designed executive summary. Final printed versions must not exceed one 8.5x11” page back-to-back (2-sided). 

    Our suggestions for what to include in your Executive Summary:
    • Project name and logo
    • The Problem (Background on the social problem or impact area you are addressing)
    • Your Project/Venture (A description of your project, program, or venture)
    • The Ecosystem (Who else is tackling the same problem, and what makes you better or different? Who are your beneficiaries, and have you studied their needs or behaviors?)
    • Metrics (What would success look like? What impact do you hope to have? What metrics will you use? Explain your short, medium, and/or long term goals and how you will know if you’ve reached them.)
    • Team (Your team, including mentors, advisors, a board, or other key supporters and partners)
    • Timeline (What have you already accomplished? Have you tested your ideas in real-world settings? Do you have early traction or evidence that your ideas have potential? What are your upcoming milestones in the short and long term?)
    • Budget (How much do you have? How much do you need? Where will you get funding from? What will you spend it on?)

    Be sure to present information in a concise, clear, and compelling way. Judges will select finalists based only on their review of these executive summaries. 

    Apply here by January 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

  • Round 2

    All applicants will receive feedback on their Round 1 executive summary. Select applicants ("finalists") will advance to Round 2 and be asked to submit:

    • A revised executive summary. Final printed versions must not exceed one 8.5x11” page back-to-back (2-sided).
    • A separate document (maximum 10 pages) with supporting documentation, detailed plans for you/your team, or other information. This is an internal tactical and practical document, not another pitch.
    • A pitch deck (slides with script notes).

    Pending completion of the Round 2 materials, finalists will be invited to present for a live audience on Friday, March 1, 12-1 p.m. Pitches must be no more than 7 minutes apiece and will be followed by private interviews that afternon. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges by Monday, March 4.

    Pitches will be open to the public. They may be recorded and webcast.

  • Expectations of Grantees
    Seed Grant payments will be made in two installments: $4500 in March 2019, and $500 in September 2019, pending satisfactory progress. Checks will be payable to a member of the winning team who is a currently-enrolled Wesleyan student (i.e. payments must be made to an individual, not an organization). In most cases, the grant money should be spent no later than December 31, 2019.
    All applicants will receive mentoring from Patricelli Center staff and volunteers, 24/7 access to the PCSE Board Room, and priority involvement in PCSE programs.

    Grant recipients will be expected to submit blog posts with budget reports and remain actively involved in Patricelli Center programs.
  • Judges

    2019 Seed Grant Judges:

    • Syed Ali '13, urban planning graduate student at Harvard University
    • Marcus Chung '98, Head of Sourcing, Stitch Fix
    • Sara Crawley '83, Campaign Analyst, Blackbaud
    • Lexy Funk '91, Co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn Industries
    • Irma Gonzalez '78 P'09, Principal, Zoen Resources
    • Dan Gregory ‘78 P’09 Director, Northeastern IDEA
    • Lily Herman '16, digital writer, editor, and strategist; Founder of Rogue Sunday and Get Her Elected
    • Rachel Hines ’82 P’18, Board Chair, TechnoServe; Board Member, Sesame Workshop; venture investor, Plum Alley
    • Gayle Northrop P'22, Lecturer & Faculty Advisor, UCLA Anderson School of Management; Principal & President, Northrop Nonprofit Consulting
    • Ferdinand Quayson ’20, Founder and CEO of Young Achievers Foundation Ghana; 2018 Seed Grant recipient
    • David Salinas, Founder and Chairman, District Innovation and Venture Center; Co-founder, Digital Surgeons
    • David Sonnenberg P'19, P'20 - Co-President/Co-Chief Operating Officer, Hunter Douglas; Board Member, Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science
    • Deborah Sonnenberg P'19, P'20 - Board Member, Riverdale Country School and Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science
    • Melinda Weekes-Laidlow, Esq. '89; President, Weekes In Advance Enterprises; Founder/CEO Beautiful Ventures; former Managing Director, Race Forward
    • Joe Weinstein '97, Senior Partner at the Global Social Enterprise Initiative, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business
    • Andy Weissman ‘88 P'21 (Co-chair), Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures
    • Sarah Williams ’88 P'21, Co-founder, Propel Capital

    Thank you to our 2014-2018 Seed Grant Judges:

    • Raghu Appasani '12, Founder & CEO, MINDS Foundation
    • Ali Berman, Program Manager at CTNext, former director at TechStars Foundation
    • Karl Boulware, Assistant Professor of Economics, Wesleyan University
    • Sara Crawley '83, Campaign Analyst, Blackbaud 
    • Marc Eisner, Dean of the Social Sciences & Henry Merritt Wriston Chair of Public Policy, Wesleyan University
    • Irma Gonzalez '78 P'09, Principal, Zoen Resources
    • Dan Gregory '78 P'09, Co-Director, Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education
    • Rachel Hines '82, Board Member at Sesame Workshop, Technoserve, and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy; former managing director at JP Morgan
    • Claudia Kahindi '18, Wesleyan student, KIU founder, Davis Projects for Peace grantee
    • Gregory Makoul '82, Founder and CEO, PatientWisdom
    • David Sonnenberg P'19 P'20, Co-President/Co-Chief Operating Officer, Hunter Douglas; Board Member, Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science
    • Deborah Sonnenberg P'19 P'20, Board Member, Riverdale Country School and Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science
    • Nick Devane '13, Co-founder and CEO, Pilotworks
    • Melinda Weekes-Laidlow '89, Founder, Weekes In Advance Enterprises; Social Entrepreneur in Residence, Echoing Green
    • Alvin Chitena '19 - Founder, ZimCode; Patricelli Center Fellow
    • Stacie Halpern P’18 – President, Kingdom Design Inc.; Board Member, Hawken School, Findaway Ventures, Salon Quest, Hillcrest Hospital, and Preston’s H.O.P.E.
    • Oladoyin Oladapo ’14 – Founder, Idunnu Studios; Author, Girl to the World series; Co-founder, Joomah
    • Nicole Rodriguez Leach '97 - Head of Education, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
    • Mira Wijayanti ’07 – Senior Associate, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
    • Mike Wisniewski - Investment Associate, Connecticut Innovations
    • Lara Galinsky '96, Consultant, GOOD; former Senior Vice President, Echoing Green; PCSE Advisory Board Co-chair
    • Giulio Gallaroti, Professor of Government and Tutor in the College of Social Studies, Wesleyan University
    • Jonathan Gertler '77, M.D., Managing Partner, CEO, and Co-Founder at Back Bay Life Science Advisors
    • Biz Ghormley '04, Membership & Operations, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP); Private Investigator, One World Research
    • Lily Herman '16, Co-founder, Editor-in-Chief, and CEO,; writer at The Muse, Her Campus and HelloFlo; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Anne Lebleu '00, Philanthropy Management Director, Arabella Advisors; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Jeremy Mindich '87, Board Chair, Root Capital; Cofounder, Propel Capital; Managing Partner, Scopia Capital
    • Ajay Rajani '06, Founder, The Inevitable Collective
    • Rob Rosenthal, Director of the Allbritton Center and John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • George Suttles '03, Vice President, Senior Philanthropic Relationship Manager, U.S. Trust; Board Member, Storefront Academy Harlem and Odyssey House
    • Glendowlyn Thames, Director of the Small Business Innovation Group, CT Innovations; Director of CTNext
    • Melinda Weekes-Laidlow '89, President, Weekes In Advance Enterprises; Social Entrepreneur in Residence, Echoing Green; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Joaquin Benares '15, Founder of BUKO; 2014 PCSE Seed Grant winner
    • Marcus Chung '98, Vice President of Social Responsibility and Vendor Compliance, Children's Place; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Peter Frank '12, Founder and CEO of
    • Lexy Funk '91, Co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn Industries; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Dan Gregory '78 P'07, Co-director of the Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education; Founding faculty advisor of IDEA
    • Rachel Hines '82 P'18, international monetary expert formerly with J.P. Morgan, World Bank, and USAID
    • Barbara Juhasz, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Service Learning, Wesleyan University
    • Sarah Williams ’88, Co-founder, Propel Capital; Principal, Sarah Williams Consulting; PCSE Advisory Board Co-chair
    • Phoebe Boyer ’89, Senior Advisor, Robertson Foundation; former Trustee, Wesleyan University; PCSE Advisory Board Member
    • Ali Chaudhry ’12, Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting; Founder and CEO of Possibilities Pakistan
    • Tim Devane '09, Entrepreneur In Residence, Red Sea Ventures; former Director of Sales & Business Development at; president & co-founder of Birthright  Earth; co-chair of Digital Wesleyan
    • Amir Hasson ’98, CEO of Oxigen America and Chief Development Officer of Oxigen India; judge and mentor for Harvard and MIT Business Plan competitions
    • Maeve Russell '14, Executive Committee Member, Wesleyan Chapter of Shining Hope for Communities; Communications Intern, RefugePoint; Coordinator, Wesleyan’s Office of Community Service
    • Marc Schleifer '95, Regional Director for Eurasia and South Asia at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
  • Sponsors and Partners

    We are grateful to Propel Capital, The Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation, Newman's Own Foundation, the Norman E. Priebatsch Fund for Entrepreneurship, and many individual donors to the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Questions? Contact us at