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Social Innovation Fellows

Find and pursue your passion. Make a difference while cultivating valuable relationships with mentors and content experts. Become an innovative problem solver to tackle the grand challenges in our state and the world.

What is the Social Innovation Fellows Program?

A year-long, team-based learning experience, the Social Innovation Fellows program enables NC State’s social entrepreneurs and innovators to consider more fully their impact on humanity and our planet.

Fellows explore issues of ethics and sustainability at the intersection of social sector and responsible business practice. They gain great self-understanding and see the impact they can have in their communities and the world.

Our Fellows become keen thinkers and problem solvers who are sensitive to cultural differences. They leave our program prepared to become engaged and responsible global citizens at NC State and beyond.

Fellows work and learn under the guidance of program staff and faculty, seasoned fellows alumni, and business and community leaders. Fellows learn adaptive leadership skills required of successful entrepreneurs and hone the technical skills needed to both evaluate and design enterprises that have a positive social impact.

Wondering if you’re a good fit?

Do you…

  • Want to work on an interdisciplinary team outside your undergraduate major or graduate program?
  • Have a passion to improve the world and lives of those around you?
  • Want to deeply explore a social challenge related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
  • Currently work on a social venture, product or project but don’t know where to go to develop it?

If so, you may be a great candidate for the Social Innovation Fellows program.

Learn about past Community Anchors

During the 2021-22 cohort, the role of Venture Partner was renamed Community Anchor to better reflect their contribution to the Social Innovation Fellows.

Staff at The Place at the Table

A Place at the Table
A Place at the Table is a pay-what-you-can cafe in downtown Raleigh created by social entrepreneur and NC State alumna Maggie Kane. Their goal is to provide good food and a welcoming community for everyone, regardless of economic status. The Place at the Table model has inspired a lot of generosity in the Raleigh community and is going into their fourth year of success and spreading kindness.

Two men look at compost at NC State

NC State Composting Facility and Research Cooperative
The NC State Composting Facility and Research Cooperative is a campus unit that handles nearly all of NC State’s organic waste. One of their major accomplishments is creating a “closed loop system” for NC State where all of the university’s organic waste is composted and then reused in landscaping and food production

Two All We Are employees install a solar panel

All We Are
Part of a health program run by the NC Episcopal All We Are is a Raleigh-based nonprofit that helps provide clean energy by installing solar panels in Ugandan villages. Founded by social entrepreneur and NC State alum Nathan Thomas, the organization focuses on community-oriented buildings such as hospitals or schools and uses solar grids to help provide them with reliable and renewable energy access.

Fishermen zip along the shoreline of Cape Lookout.

NC Sea Grant
NC Sea Grant is an NC State-based research organization with a goal to sustainably steward ocean, coast and watershed resources while preserving the waterscapes that make this state beautiful and unique. The research supported by the organization covers a variety of important issues from restoring and protecting coastal ecosystems to wetland flood prevention.

Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry

Returning for their second year with the Social Innovation Fellows, the Episcopal Farmworkers Ministry (EFWM) is a nonprofit organization located in Dunn, NC dedicated to improving the quality of life for migrant farmworkers. EFWM works to provide farmworker communities with necessary resources like food and clothing as well as a sense of community and support.

A group of people hold up a P1T sign

People-First Tourism

People-First Tourism (P1T) is a social enterprise created by NC State faculty member Duarte Morais. P1T specializes in discovering and advertising unique and entrepreneurial tourist experiences. P1T focuses on creating and supporting ethical tourism, with the hope of nurturing strong relationships with local communities and showcasing local enterprises, culture, and creativity.

Children eat at a table

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 six. The Fellows will be working to prepare the organization to serve more areas and broaden fundraising.

Workers at Reborn Clothing Co.

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 manage growth while still being an ethically-sourced and mission-driven business.

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.

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.

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.

Haiti Goat Project
A venture returning for its second year, the Haiti Goat Project trains Haitian farmers to breed more robust goats in order to provide nutritious local school lunches. The Fellows helped them raise $6,500+ and diversify their funding as a nonprofit.

Man walks in marijuana field

Root Bioscience
Root Bioscience transforms phytocannabinoids into health and wellness products. The Fellows team studied the perception and policy implications of this emerging field, focusing on the challenge of plant waste. They produced a prototype of cat litter and are studying market opportunities.

A tractor in the fields at the AgInnovation Center

Sandhills Region Farming Initiative
In partnership with NC State Extension and the Sandhills AGinnovation Center, the Fellows worked to connect more markets and vendors to local farmers in the Sandhills area by partnering with Freshspire, an online produce marketplace, and Vacation Vittles, an NC State social enterprise.

Farmworker picking tobacco wearing a garbage bag

Farmworker’s Garment Project
The Farmworker’s Garment Project partnered with Wilson College of Textiles researchers to explore the sustainable and cultural challenges in creating a protective garment for migrant farmers suffering from pesticide exposure in rural North Carolina.

Man works on flexcrevator

NC State researchers and the Global WASH Cluster invented the Flexcrevator, a machine for emptying pit latrines. The Fellows team helped refine this technology and developed a trade show marketing strategy and 2D visual tools.

Boy drinks from water tap

Wine to Water
Local nonprofit Wine to Water has committed to providing clean water to over one million people by 2019 by providing water filters to areas without access to clean water. Fellows are working with Wine to Water to provide filter use and cleaning instructions in more languages.

Three Haitian men hold baby goats

Haiti Goat Project
The Haiti Goat Project combats child malnutrition by providing animal-based foods to school lunch programs. The Fellows are working to diversify funding sources by launching a food product for sale in the U.S. and using the profits to invest back into the Project’s mission.

The founders of Freshspire

Freshspire is a platform designed to reduce food waste by grocery stores and restaurants. Fellows are working with the nonprofit to expand contacts, suppliers and restaurants that are interested in adopting the platform.

Rise Against Hunger
Rise Against Hunger is working to find a more sustainable way to distribute packaged meals to those in need. Fellows are working with the team to increase community sustainability efforts.

Plastic averted from the ocean

Ocean Works
The Ocean Works team is working with Fellows to collect plastics littered in oceans and waterways and transform them into usable sustainable products.

A Pack Essentials employee laughing

NC State Food Waste and Food Insecurity
The FWAFI team’s research has determined that as many as 6,000 NC State students suffer from food insecurity. The team aims to reduce food waste on campus, working closely with the university’s agriculture department and farms.

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Support for the Social Innovation Fellows Program

The Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science generously supports the Social Innovation Fellows program through funding and mentoring.