Social Innovation Initiative (SI2)

Supporting social innovation at MHC

The McCulloch Center provides support, mentorship, and seed funding to student innovators who are developing and implementing projects to address some of the world’s most vexing challenges. It advances this agenda in collaboration with multiple units across campus, most importantly Entrepreneurship, Organizations, and Society. Under the Social Innovation Initiative (SI2), students advance projects that are grounded in the community, informed by the curriculum, and build student capacity for “effective and purposeful engagement in the world” – chiefly in the fields of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. Students can secure seed funding for projects that meet high standards, and can compete for conference funding.

Spring 2018 Seed Funding Challenge

The SI2 Seed Funding Challenge will provide students an opportunity to advance an innovation project with catalytic funding for project development or planning activities. In 2018, students may compete for awards in one of two categories:

  • Up to $2000 for project work, plus a personalized coaching session with a relevant expert, for a commitment of 6 weeks or more of implementation activity. 

  • $1000 planning grants for early stage projects or strongly conceived project concepts.

Key Dates 

Information Session: Tuesday, March 20, 4:15-6 pm, 210 Skinner

Proposal Consultation Drop-In: Tuesday, March 27, 2018, between 12 and 2 pm, 201 Dwight
Application Deadline: Monday, April 2 at 5 pm to
Announcement of Winning Projects: Monday, April 9

How to Apply

After attending the information session on March 20 and receiving proposal advice on March 27, submit project proposals to by 5 pm on April 2.

Required proposal components include:

  • project proposal
  • one page budget
  • statement of sustainability and partnership

Find a proposal template in the SI2 program description and guidelines document.

Learn about some of Mount Holyoke’s inspiring social innovators

Ellen Chilemba (‘17) -- Tiwale (Malawi)

Ellen Chilemba ’17

Founder of Tiwale, an organization in Malawi with the goal of reducing poverty by empowering women to develop sustainable ventures .
Photo of Carly Forcade ’17

Carly Forcade ’17

Founder of The Travel Unicorn, a travel guide that works to connect LGBTQ+ travelers to safe destinations based on their recommendations.
Woyneab Habte '17, Mount Holyoke College

Woyneab Habte ’17

Founder of On-Her-Own, the first work-study program in Ethiopia helping to provide low-income female students with non-exploitative means of income.
Photo of Sara Harde ’19

Sara Harda ’19

President and Co-Founder of E-nitiate, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting computer science education in Morocco.
Photo of Angelica Mercado ’18

Angelica Mercado '18

Founder of Educación sin Límites, an organization that encourages people living in rural areas of the Dominican Republic to continue their education.
Celine profile image.jpg

Céline Mudahakana ’17

Founder of the Weaving for Peace, an income-generating project that helps impoverished Rwandan youth affected by HIV/AIDS.

Our expanding work in social innovation

Woyneab Habte '17, Mount Holyoke College

2017: Social Innovation Initiative launches

Mount Holyoke capitalizes on its growing social innovation ecosystem to initiate a homegrown framework for mentoring, seed funding and conference support.
Image of Yan Yan '17

2016: Record numbers invited to attend CGIU

Mount Holyoke students excelled at the annual Clinton Global Initiative University gathering, winning awards—and top honors in the coding competition.
Students at the Clinton Global Initiative University 2015 in Miami.

2015: MHC shines at Clinton Global Initiative

Eight students traveled to Miami for the annual global problem-solving summit, which brings together topic experts, project funders, and other luminaries.
Photo of the 2014 group who attended the Clinton Global Initiative University

2014: MHC Sends 14 Changemakers to Conference

MHC students are developing change-the-world projects this week at the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Arizona.

2016 Changemakers

In 2016, a record-breaking 18 Mount Holyoke students were invited to attend the CGI U convening at UC Berkeley.  Consistent with past years, MHC students made an outsized impact -- with Danielle Harris ('16) a member of the winning Code-a-thon team and multiple students selected for The Exchange (Woyneab Habte '17, Yan Yan '17, and Jemimah Kamau FP)  -- with support from 2016 mentor Dr. Tamara Stenn. 

2015 Changemakers

The 2015 CGI U convening was held March 6-8 at the University of Miami.  Twelve Mount Holyoke were invited to Florida, to turn their ideas into action.  Many of these students  developed their Commitments to Action in MHC's Social Innovation Lab, led by Elizabeth Long Lingo, who accompanied the students to the conference.  They also found inspiration in the 2014 CGI U cohort, two of whom were invited to return to the global convening for a second year.

2014 Changemakers

In 2014, fourteen MHC students -- proposing innovative solutions from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe -- were selected to participate in the CGI U meeting March 21-23 at Arizona State University, where they networked with international experts and other student leaders.  In Phoenix, Celine Mudahakana ('16) was invited to showcase her project, Weaving for Peace, at the prestigious CGI U "Expo" while Prarthana Bhattarai ('15) and Jazmin Locke ('14) were chosen as two of only 23 Resolution Project Fellows from among more than 1000 participating students.