Rockefeller Foundation-Acumen Student Social Innovation Challenge 2019 (Win up to $20,000 and more)

Rockefeller Foundation-Acumen Student Social Innovation Challenge 2019 (Win up to $20,000 and more)

Deadline: October 15, 2019

Applications for the Rockefeller Foundation-Acumen Student Social Innovation Challenge 2019 are now open. Develop innovative solutions to problems associated with poverty and pitch for a chance to win up to $20,000 plus an invite to a community of experienced entrepreneurs and investors to help you turn your idea into an impactful enterprise.

Acumen, with the support of the The Rockefeller Foundation, is equipping student innovators to solve problems associated with poverty through a global challenge platform. Student teams from around the world are coming together to explore areas of opportunity, develop ideas, and pitch for funding and mentorship. They believe that investing in early-stage innovators can lead to unexpected new pathways for solving some of the most intractable social challenges.

About the Virtual Challenge

In addition to supporting on campus competitions, Acumen and The Rockefeller Foundation are hosting a Virtual Challenge with the aim of inspiring and equipping students from all over the world with the skills and support to solve problems associated with poverty. World-changing ideas can come from anywhere in the world, so they’re hosting a Virtual Challenge for every student who doesn’t have access to an existing campus competition.

There are three phases to the Virtual Challenge:

  • In Phase 1, teams of students will enroll in the 6-week Lean Startup online course and submit their social venture ideas.
  • In Phase 2, the top teams will join an 8-week Student Social Enterprise Accelerator, where they will be provided one-on-one coaching and participate in a final pitch showcase.
  • In Phase 3, the winning teams will receive up to $20,000 to transform their idea into a real-life social venture. They will also be invited to join Acumen’s Community of Social Innovators, an exclusive network of Acumen Fellows, social entrepreneurs, and change-makers.

Challenge Areas

  • Health
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Workforce development
  • Financial Inclusion


Are you a university student that wants to solve problems that matter? You’re in the right place.

  • Learn about social challenges from experts in the field
  • Form a team and an idea for solving one of them
  • Refine your idea through online courses and Learning Labs
  • Pitch your idea for a chance to win funding, mentorship, and support

The best ideas will win up to $20,000 in funding as well as an invitation to an exclusive community of experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and change agents, who will help transform these ideas into successful enterprises.

The total prize pool for the Virtual Challenge is $200,000. They anticipate distributing $100,000 in funding in the Fall Virtual Challenge, and $100,000 in the Spring Virtual Challenge.


  • Open to students worldwide
  • Anyone can participate in the Virtual Challenge (and compete for $20,000 in funding per team!), so long as you meet the following eligibility and participation requirements:
    • Form a team of two people or more. At least one team member must be actively enrolled at a higher education institution.
    • Complete 4 of the 5 assignments in the Lean Startup course (including the final assignment) and submit an application for the Accelerator program. At least two team members must complete the Lean Startup course.
    • Interview for and be selected to participate in the Student Social Enterprise Accelerator program.
    • Participate in at least 7 of the 8 Accelerator Learning Labs and submit all assignments, including a final pitch deck. The pitch deck must include a budget for the prize funding and a three-month work plan including key milestones and dates.


Phase 1 — All Participants: Register for Lean Startup and Submit Your Idea

  • Register for the Lean Startup online course before October 15, 2019
  • Complete the course and submit your social venture idea before November 26, 2019
  • Top teams will be invited to join the Student Social Enterprise Accelerator

Phase 2 — Finalists: Student Social Enterprise Accelerator

  • Our online Student Social Enterprise Accelerator will begin on January 27, 2020
  • Develop your idea with one-on-one coaching, peer mentoring, and case studies
  • Pitch your social venture to a panel of judges before March 13, 2020

Phase 3 — Winners: Receive Funding and Join the Community of Social Innovators

  • Winning teams will receive up to $20,000 from a funding pool of $100,000
  • Winners will also be invited to join Acumen’s Community of Social Innovators to receive ongoing support from a network of Acumen Fellows, social entrepreneurs, and change-makers

Click here to apply.

For more information, visit Student Social Innovation Challenge.