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“Discover. Design. Do Good!” The Social Innovation Fellows Kick Off Innovation Lab

The Social Innovation Fellows is a high-impact learning experience at the Institute for Nonprofits. The program offers participants from any discipline a yearlong team experience to learn the adaptive leadership and technical skills it takes to be successful social entrepreneurs and innovators.

On September 4, 2018, an engaging event in the Convocation Room at the College of Textiles kicked off the Social Innovation Fellows. The second cohort of Fellows is a diverse mix of students that represent all ten colleges here at NC State University. The kickoff event was an opportunity for the Fellows to meet each other and work collectively in teams.

In addition, the new Fellows had the added benefit of networking with some of the members from the inaugural Fellows cohort, who will serve as “Senior Fellows” for the program. Overall, the Fellows’ punctuality and energy revealed their excitement for this inspiring initiative. 

During the kickoff lab, over ten social entrepreneurs pitched their projects to the new Fellows. These potential projects covered a wide array of issues and problems that the Fellows will have a chance to address.

Some of the project pitches included:

  • The Flexcrevator Project- The Flexcrevator team is developing a machine for emptying pit latrines that would solve the problem of manual emptying.


  • The Sustainable SAIC Project- This project would be to develop a plan to capture the produce processing waste stream through composting for the demonstration farm and use alternative energy sources as a demonstration that offsets the utility costs of the operation.


  • The Haiti Goat Project-  The Haiti Goat Project aims to educate Haitian agricultural producers to improve the genes of goats for more sustainable and nutritious school lunches.


  • The Beyond the Rice Bag Challenge- The products of The Rice Bag Challenge, in which students have developed an innovative rice bag reuse product at a minimal cost for the intended use in a 3rd world country, need help being scaled up.


  • The Pack Essentials Project- The ultimate goal is to create a strategic plan for essential needs security at NC State.


  • The Farmer’s Garment Challenge- This project will explore sustainability, cultural issues, and cost solutions for an NCSU-designed protective garment created for migrant farmers in rural North Carolina.


  • The Trash Talk Project- The project is to design a solution that simplifies the process of sorting waste at the consumer level, with the goal of minimizing landfills and ground pollution.


  • The Xelaqua Water Challenge- XelAqua aims to develop a sustainable method of recycling potable water for human consumption, rather than for industrial uses.


  • The Fork to Farmer Packaging Project- Fork to Farmer raises revenues of small farmers by helping them sell experiences such as produce boxes.


  • The Root Bioscience Project- Root Bioscience transforms phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (“CBD”) into premium health and wellness products using processes that combine specialized cannabis industry technology with advanced bio-manufacturing techniques.


  • The Sandhill School Markets Project- This project involves creating a plan that could be developed and contact made with local school systems to explore the feasibility of developing local produce products for consumption at the schools in the region.

Based on interest, the new Fellows will be placed into interdisciplinary groups to begin their venture work for the academic year. During the year, the Fellows will take part in monthly labs to complete their work on the chosen projects.

For more information about the Social Innovation Fellows program:

Contact Elizabeth Benefield at or visit the website