Population Health

Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship

Image of student engaged with a virtual reality headsetThe Population Health Initiative, in partnership with the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, CoMotion and the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, offers a Social Entrepreneurship Fellows Program in which students explore how best to deploy social enterprise models for innovations that are developed by University of Washington researchers.

The program supports five graduate fellows from different disciplines to work on five different projects. Students from a range of disciplines are encouraged to apply, including business, engineering, social work, law, public policy and public health.

Each fellow will have primary responsibility for one of the projects, but fellows will work as a team, with each fellow contributing their disciplinary expertise to all four projects. Fellows will be guided through a structured workplan by program faculty and staff, and will also have access to mentors and subject matter experts.

Summer 2021 projects

The projects for the summer 2021 cohort are being developed by UW researchers to benefit disadvantaged populations and improve population health. All innovations are seeking novel ideas for how they can be financially sustainable while ensuring that the societal impact of their work remains as important as any potential revenue generation.

Entrepreneurial Law Clinic – Improving legal services for entrepreneurs (Jennifer Fan, School of Law)

The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic (ELC) is an innovative clinic serving entrepreneurs throughout the Pacific Northwest. The ELC teams law and business students with pro bono attorneys and business advisors to offer legal and business counseling to technology entrepreneurs, small businesses, social enterprises and nonprofits. The ELC also collaborates with CoMotion. A major focus for the clinic is to assist minority, low-income and diverse entrepreneurs overcome the barriers that they face in starting and growing their businesses. This summer, a student will help the ELC assess how to best grow to serve the needs of its clients. Work will include generating a stakeholder map and conducting interviews with various clinic stakeholders, understanding services being offered by other transactional clinics at peer institutions, and creating a business model that meets the clinic’s goal of serving entrepreneurs from communities which have historically been underrepresented in entrepreneurship.

COCO – An artificial intelligence technology to support caregivers (Weichao Yuwen, School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership, UW Tacoma)

Caring for Caregivers Online (COCO) is a platform that leverages a hybrid model of human and AI to provide on-demand, personalized, and emotionally intelligent support and health solutions to reduce caregiver burnout and promote the health and well-being of families with chronically ill members. The transdisciplinary COCO design team has developed a prototype of the platform and has already tested it with more than 100 caregivers with promising results. The social entrepreneurship fellow will work closely with the team to conduct a more comprehensive assessment of how this technology can be brought to market to benefit caregivers, particularly those of low-income and from marginalized communities. The scope of work will include conducting extensive customer discovery to determine how COCO might be adopted by various stakeholders, identifying possible payers, conducting a market analysis to determine how comparable technologies have succeeded or failed and developing a business model for COCO that enables sustainability as well as provides social benefit.

Open Sidewalks – A pedestrian-centric data application to inclusively measure walkability and accessibility (Anat Caspi, Computer Science & Engineering)

Access to travel has significantly changed in the past 15 years with wayfinding and navigation apps giving travelers unprecedented ability to search and discover travel paths and transit options. However, pedestrian data that maps sidewalks is nearly always missing in most mapping applications, and thus there is no scalable method for personalized routing that takes into account an individual’s accessibility needs. The UW’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (TCAT) has developed OpenSidewalks, which enables cities to create digital tools to map pedestrian accessibility and support personalized pedestrian routing at a whole city scale, to fill this gap. TCAT is now working with the organization Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) to empower accessibility-focused smart-city collaborations in various cities in Latin America. The student will conduct work including stakeholder interviews to help the team understand how Latin American cities might adopt OpenSidewalks and create a business plan for scaling OpenSidewalks beyond a few model cities.

Positive Social Change Challenge – Creating positive change for marginalized communities (Joe Lott, College of Education)

The Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship offers exceptional curriculum, real-world experiences and community connections to inspire students from all majors and disciplines across the university to pursue their entrepreneurial passions. The Brotherhood Initiative empowers undergraduate males of color to thrive on campus and graduate prepared for a lifetime of leadership, service and success. Together, the Buerk Center and the Brotherhood Initiative have partnered to explore how to apply an experiential learning model – similar to the Health and Environmental Innovation Challenges – to the topic of social change and social impact to develop leaders who can build innovative solutions to societal challenges that realize positive impact on the local, national and global scale. The scope of work for this project will involve researching existing local, national and global endeavors of this nature, interviewing potential stakeholders and developing a feasibility study that will help to inform our pilot program in 2021-2022, as well as build the foundation for what we ultimately plan to grow into a larger University-wide challenge.

CROP – Establishing a blueprint for successful reentry for formerly incarcerated people (Akhtar Badshah, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance)

CROP is a non-profit established by formerly incarcerated prisoners in California that helps other paroled and released individuals to find meaningful jobs. CROP is bringing innovative programs that focus on four pillars for successful reentry: Leadership for Life; Skilled for Life; Equipped for Life; and Home for Life. These programs have helped transform the culture inside a prison, which is antisocial and self-destructive, into a culture of purpose where incarcerated men begin to support each other to bring out the best in them and begin down a path of restorative healing. CROP is seeking to develop a social enterprise that will hire trained, formerly incarcerated individuals to work on tech projects procured from the tech industry. The scope of work over the summer is to complete planning work that lays the groundwork for this social enterprise.

Student eligibility

We will be offering fellowships to four graduate students. Students at the master’s and doctoral levels and professional students from all UW schools and colleges are eligible to apply.

Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at a UW campus (Seattle, Tacoma or Bothell). Students who are expecting to graduate in Spring 2021 are not eligible to apply.


Fellows will be compensated up to $10,000 over a 10-week period. These roles are not benefits eligible.


  • Applications will be due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific) on April 9, 2021.
  • Applicants will be notified whether they are invited to interview for the fellowship positions by mid April.
  • Interviews will be scheduled in mid- to late-April.
  • Candidates will be notified by late April or early May.
  • Fellowships are for a 10-week period over the summer, starting on June 21, 2021 and ending August 27, 2021.

Application instructions

All applicants must submit the following documents:

  • Recent CV or resume.
  • Unofficial transcript.
  • One- to two-page cover letter outlining why you are interested in the fellowship program and how your skills will enable you to contribute to the success of the project. The application should indicate if there is a specific project that you are particularly interested in.

Please combine the CV/resume, transcript and cover letter into a single .pdf file and upload your application to https://redcap.link/soc_ent_fellows_2021.

Select candidates will be required to participate in a 30-minute interview for the fellowship positions.

Review criteria

Applications will initially be reviewed by representatives of the Population Health Initiative, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and the Evans School. Select candidates will then be invited to interview for the fellowship positions. Candidates will be notified whether they have been selected for interviews according to the published timeline.

Interviews will last for 30-minutes and will be with a panel consisting of the faculty and staff who reviewed the applications.

Applicants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated the analytical skills necessary to complete the project
  • Demonstrated interest in social entrepreneurship
  • Academic performance to date
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills (interviewing, writing and presentation skills)
  • Demonstrated experience working within in a team environment


Please contact pophlth@uw.edu with questions regarding this fellowship program.