Seed Grant Challenge

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship will award 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 to pilot programs that will exist independently or under the umbrella of an already-existing organization.

Read about past winners: 2013 2014 2015 2016

Apply here 

  • What is the timeline for the 2016/2017 Seed Grant?

    December 7, 9, and 12: Information sessions 12-1 p.m. in Allbritton 022

    January 1: Judges announced; Round 1 application available on PCSE website

    January 29: Round 1 applications due by 11:59 p.m.

    February 6: Finalists announced; feedback from judges shared privately with all applicants

    February 13: Round 2 applications due from finalists

    February 22: Demo Day slides and script due from finalists

    February 24: Demo Day (public pitches and interviews) 

    February 27: Seed grant winners announced

  • Who is eligible for a PCSE Seed Grant?

    Projects or ventures must:

    • address a demonstrated social need
    • be scalable or replicable
    • have potential for impact

    Entries are not required to lead to a new organization or company; they can be new programs or projects implemented within an existing entity.  Those that are new ventures can be for-profit, non-profit, hybrid, or pilot projects with no legal structure at this time. Entries can be US-based or international.

    Teams may be made up of one or more members, but at least one founding member must be a current Wesleyan undergraduate. Teams made up completely of Wesleyan students may have an advantage.

  • What does the Round 1 Application include?

    Applicants will submit an executive summary using Xtensio's one-pager template. Printed versions must not exceed one 8.5x11” page back-to-back (2-sided).

    We recommend that your executive summary include the following content:

    • The Problem – Background on the social problem or impact area you are addressing. Give stats to illustrate scope and severity. Build empathy; make readers care.
    • Your Solution – A description of your project, program, venture, or internship. Be succinct but clear. If your project is being hosted by an existing organization, explain.
    • The Market – Describe the landscape or ecosystem you’re in. Who else is tackling the same problem? Who is your ‘competition’? What is your unique value proposition, i.e. what makes you better or different?
    • Metrics – What would success look like? What impact do you hope to have? Explain your short, medium, and/or long term goals and how you will know if you’ve reached them. What metrics will you use?
    • Your Team – Who are you and/or your team? Do you have mentors, advisors, a board, or other key supporters? What assets do you bring to the table? Why do you personally care about this work?
    • Timeline – Exactly what are you planning to do and when?
    • Budget – List expected expenses and revenues. Add a narrative to explain if that’s useful.

    Present information in a concise, clear, and compelling way. Information should fit together into a coherent “story,” so readers understand you, believe in you, and are excited about your plans. 

    Apply here.

  • What are the judging criteria?

    Judges will assess the applicant(s) and the idea(s). Quality of the idea, the execution plan, and the applicant or team will be most important in selecting grantees. Severity of the social problem and potential for impact will be secondary.

    Characteristics that the judges will look for include:

    The Applicant(s):

    • Purpose/Passion – commitment for the program area in which he/she plans to work, commitment to Wesleyan, personal integrity
    • Resilience – ability to overcome obstacles; tenacity
    • Leadership – leadership and entrepreneurial potential

    The Project/Idea:

    • Innovation – demonstrates a new or better approach
    • Importance – addresses a pressing social problem
    • Organization – clear and compelling mission, objectives, program operation, service delivery, data strategy, financial plan, etc.
    • Feasibility – well-designed and could be rolled out effectively before December 31, 2017
    • Potential for Impact – has the potential to create change
  • Who are the judges?

    2017 PCSE Seed Grant judges will be announced soon.

    Thank you to our past judges: 

    • 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)
  • What happens if my project/venture is chosen as a finalist?

    Finalists will be required to submit:

    • A revised executive summary (must not exceed one 8.5x11” page back-to-back)
    • A document (10 pages maximum) that expands on the information in the executive summary and serves as a detailed business plan for you/your team. This is a tactical and practical document – not another pitch. You can use any format you’d like.
    • A pitch deck (slides) and script for their Demo Day presentation

    Demo Day presentations will be open to the public. They will be recorded and webcast. Each finalist/team will have up to 5 minutes to pitch their project followed by 10 minutes of judge Q&A.

  • How do winners collect their grants, and what are the expectations of grant recipients?

    Grant payments will be made in two installments: $4500 in March 2017, and $500 in September 2017, 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). It is expected that grant money will be spent no later than December 31, 2017.

    Winners will also receive mentoring from Patricelli Center staff and volunteers, 24/7 access to the PCSE Board Room, and priority for all PCSE programs.

    Grant recipients will be expected to take full advantage of Patricelli Center programs, submit blog posts, and offer peer advising upon request.