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 four graduate fellows from different disciplines to work on four 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 2020 projects

The projects for the summer 2020 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.

Global Water Labs – An affordable technology to remove heavy metal contamination from water (Katya Cherukumilli, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering)

The presence of heavy metals in groundwater and industrial wastewater can lead to numerous health problems, including neurological damage, cancer and cardiovascular disease. In the U.S., lead contamination of water supplies due to decaying infrastructure (i.e., pipes, faucets, plumbing fixtures) has caused widespread concern about childhood lead poisoning. Global Water Labs proposes an affordable, effective and locally-sourced method to remove inorganic contaminants in groundwater. A student will investigate how this technology may be best deployed in the U.S. to benefit populations at risk of detrimental health effects due to heavy metal contamination in water.

PestiSeguro/PestiSafe – A mobile app that delivers pesticide safety information in Spanish (Kit Galvin, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Services)

Errors in pesticide handling increase the risk for pesticide exposure and illness. Pesticide labels provide critical information for safe handling of these products, but these labels are long, technical and only available in English, despite the fact that Spanish is the primary language of most agricultural workers. The PestiSeguro app has been successfully tested with a cross-section of farmworkers in Washington state. A summer fellow will develop a sustainable business model that will enable the app to be broadly disseminated to agricultural workers across the country.

PHAST – A financial reporting tool for public health agencies (Betty Bekemeier, School of Nursing)

At present, no national uniform financial reporting standards and systems exist for governmental public health agencies. Instead, state and local health departments typically use agency-specific financial systems, without the ability to compare their programs to similar and neighboring entities. This presents challenges to public health policymakers and practitioners in demonstrating the value of public health. The Public Health Activities and Service Tracking (PHAST) team has developed a financial reporting tool that enables state and local public health agencies to report spending on public health services in a standardized form that is then comparable across agencies. A student will analyze how such a tool can be widely adopted by cash-strapped public health agencies to help maximize the impact of public health expenditures.

Central District Loan Program – Structuring a loan guarantee program for minority entrepreneurs (Michael Verchot, Foster School of Business)

Businesses owned by minorities are denied loans at a higher rate than non-Hispanic whites, and even when they do succeed in raising money, it is usually at a higher interest rate. To address this disparity, the UW’s Consulting and Business Development Center is interested in developing a mechanism to encourage smaller banks and credit unions to offer loans to minority-owned businesses in Seattle’s Central District. This mechanism would include raising money for a cash fund to secure the lines of credit for the bank and UW students working with the banks on the due diligence for potential loan clients. An MBA student for the summer will help structure how the fund could be raised, create a role for UW students to participate in deploying the fund and develop a business case for smaller, non-profit banks to also participate.

Student eligibility

We will be offering fellowships to four graduate students. One fellowship is designated for a Foster School MBA student to work on the Central District Loan Program.

For the other three fellowships, graduate 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 2020 are not eligible to apply.

Students will be expected to work at a location on the UW’s Seattle campus for the duration of the fellowship.


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. on March 29, 2020.
  • Applicants will be notified whether they are invited to interview for the fellowship positions by early April.
  • Interviews will be scheduled in early- to mid-April.
  • Candidates will be notified by late April.
  • Fellowships are for a 10-week period over the summer, starting on June 22, 2020 and ending August 28, 2020.

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://is.gd/social_entre.

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.

Past Fellows

View the previous cohorts, projects and project results for past summers.

Summer 2019
Summer 2020
  • Announcement of cohort and projects
  • Announcement of final results of projects