Kellogg Social Entrepreneurship Award

Are you committed to using your business knowledge to make a positive social impact?  Do you have an idea for a sustainable solution to one of today’s most pressing social challenges, but need some help getting it off the ground?

Endowed through a generous gift from Christopher and Courtney Combe, the Kellogg Social Entrepreneurship Award is here to help.  $70,000 in seed funding and organization support are available each year for an eligible Kellogg student or team to launch a social venture post-graduation.

How it works

Kellogg students who are committed to addressing a social or environmental challenge through a novel, sustainable and well-developed vision engage in two rounds of competition for  a $70,000 award and ongoing support from Kellogg Social Impact.  In return, they commit to work full time on the venture and share their insights and progress. 


All students completing their degree at the end of the respective academic year are eligible to compete, but must demonstrate the willingness to pursue the endeavor full time upon graduation.  The business entity may take any legal form, but must be independent and autonomous and still in the start-up phase. The central mission of the venture must be oriented to make a social impact.


Date and Action Requirements Submission Info
May 2, 2016:
Application and Overview due
Application and 7-12 page overview document (See requirements below) Email PDF to by 5pm CST on May 2, 2016

May 9, 2016:

Announcement of candidates who advance to the next round
Week of May 16, 2016:
Pitch Session
30 min Q&A Session Email PPT to by 5pm CST on May 15, 2016

Overview Document Requirements

  • Clearly and concisely articulates how the venture’s proposed idea will address the root causes or create systemic social change
  • States the theory or framework on which you base your premise of social change
  • Outlines a 3 year implementation and operational plan including staffing for several functions such as client outreach, funding, distribution and marketing
  • Indicates tangible results to date, if any
  • Defines how outcomes and success will be measured, and how this measurement is established effective practice or new to the field
  • Explains how scale will be achieved
  • Indicates the financing support plan
  • Provides a financial model with at least a 3 year projection
  • Summarizes the management team’s strengths and areas of needed management expertise, regardless of whether the expertise is currently in place
  • Identifies missing/needed resources and pathways to access them


Applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges composed of Kellogg faculty and staff, as well as practitioners with backgrounds in venture capital, entrepreneurship and social change.  Judging criteria will include the proposal’s viability, the social value created, the qualification and commitment of the applicant, and the innovativeness of the model. Criteria the judges will be considering: 

  • Is the venture self-sustaining?
  • Will the venture create significant social impact?
  • Does the venture address a root cause or deliver enduring benefit?
  • Is the approach innovative, unique or a significant improvement to existing approaches?
  • Does the leadership have a clear idea & implementation strategy?  Can they execute?
  • Is there a demonstrated viable scaling plan?
  • Has the leader demonstrated commitment to the idea and venture?

An award will only be granted if the panel unanimously agrees that a venture merits the financial commitment and demonstrates both significant social impact and financial sustainability. 

Reporting Requirements

Recipients should submit quarterly progress reports to share their progress and learnings. A comprehensive final report is due within 60 days of the conclusion of the award.  Additionally, the recipient will be requested to mentor future Social Entrepreneurship awardees and honor speaking engagement requests from Kellogg.


The award will be disbursed in quarterly installments during the 12-month period.  The award is granted to the individual, meaning that the recipients are not employees of Northwestern University and therefore are responsible for their own taxes, office and supplies, insurance, etc.  Kellogg reserves the right to discontinue payments if the recipient is not progressing appropriately through the year.