Social Innovation Lab is now accepting applications for ventures to join its 2016-17 Cohort

Deadline: Monday, October 3, 2016 – 12:00 P.M. (Noon) Eastern

The Social Innovation Lab (SIL) at Johns Hopkins University accelerates ventures that create change and opportunity in Baltimore and beyond. SIL does this by providing funding, mentorship, office space, and workshops, to help innovative non-profits, mission-driven companies, and disruptive technologies develop and grow into thriving, sustainable ventures that make a measurable impact.

Since 2011, SIL has supported 52 ventures through this program including MERIT, Fusiform, andBaltimore Teacher Supply Swap. To learn more about SIL and our impact, view our 2016 Impact Report.

What SIL looks for:

SIL is seeking driven, altruistic applicants – people who see a problem, are thoughtful and deliberate at developing a potential solution rooted in extensive research or experience, and are willing to exert extraordinary dedication to make the potential solution a reality.

Applications will be evaluated based on leadership ability of the applicants, boldness and originality of the venture, traction/accomplishments to-date, financial feasibility and sustainability, and more.

To be eligible:

  • Applications may be submitted by:
    • Residents of the greater Baltimore area, or
    • Students, faculty, or staff at Johns Hopkins University (any location)
  • Applications may be submitted on behalf of ventures that are in the prototype/pilot phase or already launched and operating (ventures must be beyond the idea stage and must be able to demonstrate accomplishments, traction, or impact)
  • Ventures may be non-profit, for-profit, or not yet incorporated

What SIL offers

SIL provides ventures with the opportunity to:

  1. Establish and refine strategies for growth and sustainability;
  2. Establish and meet critical milestones to move to the venture forward; and,
  3. Connect and collaborate with other entrepreneurs – SIL’s cohort model allows participants to learn from, and collaborate with, each other along the entrepreneurship journey.

Up to ten ventures will be accepted into the new cohort and each will receive:

  • $1,000 in funding for the venture, and the potential to receive additional funding based on progress of the venture
  • Dedicated mentors and access to an extensive network of advisors including issue experts, experienced entrepreneurs, and connections within the Johns Hopkins ecosystem
  • Workshops and sessions where venture leaders learn from experienced entrepreneurs and social sector leaders
  • One-on-one coaching and support from SIL’s Director (including setting milestones, addressing challenges as they arise, and guidance in navigating resources)
  • Office and meeting space
  • Other forms of support and assistance as needed ( such as marketing/communications and legal assistance)
  • Opportunity to pitch potential supporters at SIL events including the annual Impact+Innovation Forum

What our participants say

“SIL exposed us to an incredible ecosystem of mentors, collaborators, and funders that have been pivotal to the growth and evolution of our venture.” – J. Reidy, Urban Pastoral

“SIL allowed Bright Energy Africa to leverage the vast and diverse network of entrepreneurs, partners and resources at Hopkins and the greater Baltimore community. The fellowship allowed us to meet other passionate individuals hoping to address some of our community’s most pressing health, social and economic disparities.” – Miguel Dias, Bright Energy Africa

“My mentor at the Social Innovation Lab helped me develop metrics that demonstrate the powerful impact of my organization. Thanks to him, I’m able to show the difference my organization makes to teachers and families across Maryland.” – Melissa Badeker, Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap

“The Social Innovation Lab provided our company with the foundation to grow in the Baltimore entrepreneurial ecosystem. The sessions were invaluable and the networking opportunities with fellow social enterprises and Baltimore changemakers were a huge strategic plus.” – Seal-Bin Han, FitMango
To access the application, visit The deadline to apply is Monday, October 3rd at 12:00 P.M. (Noon) Eastern.

For questions and more information on applying, view the frequently asked questions below and join one of the upcoming info sessions:

Friday, September 9
12:00-2:00 P.M. (drop in anytime)
Brody Learning Commons Café (JHU Homewood campus)
RSVP required:

Monday, September 12
12:00-2:00 P.M. (drop in anytime)
FastForward (855 N. Wolfe; next to Atwater’s)
RSVP required:



Is this just for JHU students?

No, anyone that lives in the greater Baltimore area can apply. Also, in addition to students, JHU faculty and staff may apply.

What are some examples of the kind of ideas and ventures SIL is looking to support?

Great examples include MERIT, Fusiform, and Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap.

Is this mostly for people who want to start non-profits or for people starting for-profit businesses?


I have an idea for a product or invention and I want to develop a prototype but I’m not sure if I want to build it into a venture. Should I still apply?

No, SIL is for individuals and teams that want to build ventures. In order to be eligible, you must already have a prototype in development or completed.

Do I have to already be working on something or can I just have an idea?

You need more than an idea. SIL is looking for ventures that have already demonstrated some form or accomplishments, traction, or impact (but may still be at the early stage).

I’ve already been working on something, can SIL help me take it to the next level?

SIL helps with early-stage development of ventures; these are ventures that are still in start-up mode, have a small team, and minimal funds. If you have already started a venture that has received substantial funding (more than $100,000) or that has been around for more than two years, SIL may not be ideal for you.

Does my venture have to focus on an issue in Baltimore?

Your venture is not required to focus on addressing an issue in Baltimore, but thinking locally is encouraged.

Do I have to apply with a team or can I apply on my own?

You may apply on your own but applying as a team is encouraged. A large part of the selection process will include an evaluation of the leadership ability of the applicant(s). Although uniquely talented individuals may achieve success independently, a team of individuals working together is more likely to demonstrate the leadership ability and likelihood of success that SIL looks for. Further, if applying as a team, you are encouraged to include team members that represent the community/issue you seek to serve. If you do not currently have team members, apply anyway and if selected, SIL can help you form a team.


I’m thinking about applying, is there someone I can get in touch with to see if this would be right for me?

Yes, send any questions to SIL Director Darius Graham at

May I submit more than one application?

No, SIL looks for dedication and commitment – thus we want to see applicants are fully committed to their venture.

After the deadline of October 3rd, when will be the next time that you anticipate accepting applications for a new cohort?

August 2017

How does the review process work and when will I find out if I’ve been accepted?

Applications will be reviewed by a committee, which will select finalists based on the submitted applications. Finalists may be asked to submit additional information. Finalists will be invited to an interview with the committee on October 17th or 18th. Accepted applicants will be notified by October 24th.


What is the time commitment if selected?

Building an impactful and sustainable venture is a major time commitment. This can be accomplished alongside other commitments such as school, work, or family obligations. However, your work with your venture and SIL should be among your top priorities. Time and place for where your work occurs is up to you, but there are several required event dates as well as required weekly cohort sessions (session dates will be set based on cohort members’ schedules).

Mandatory program dates:

  • New cohort reception: Wednesday, October 26th, 5:30-7:30pm
  • Individual onboarding meetings with SIL Director: Week of October 31st
  • Cohort retreat: Saturday, November 19th, all day
  • Cohort retreat: Saturday, January 28th, all day
  • Weekly cohort sessions: Week of January 30th – Week of April 17th
  • Cohort presentations (Impact+Innovation Forum): Tuesday, April 25th, 5:30-8:30pm

If selected, will the trainings and program be personalized based on what I need help with or will it be standard for everyone?

There will be some standardized programming for all participants, but a large part of SIL’s offering is one-on-one mentoring and coaching, which will be highly personalized.

To access the application, visit The deadline to apply is Monday, October 3rd at 12:00pm (noon) Eastern. Question not answered here? Email SIL Director Darius Graham at

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