In the Social Innovation Scholars Program, undergraduate scholars work with a mentor and a representative of a non-profit organization to explore the cultural environment in which the non-profit organization works and to discover strategies to navigate the cultural context in order to achieve the organization’s goals.  The program includes a class in each of the Spring and Fall semesters, and a summer internship.  The first semester, scholars work with a mentor, a representative of their organization and with each other to explore the cultural discourse surrounding their specific concern, examine the motivations and attitude sets of the core and oppositional audiences and devise a “chess move” to address their defined challenge.  The resulting white paper is presented to the organization for a response.  In the summer internships, scholars work in the non-profit organization, learning about the organization and its challenges and strategies.  In the second semester, scholars fundraise, implement and test their innovation and reach a conclusion as to its effectiveness, working with and being critiqued by both an on-campus and off-campus mentor.

Fourteen scholars were selected for the first class (2013), eight for the second class (2014) and six for the third (2015).  Scholars worked with nonprofit organizations that included those concerned with homelessness, human trafficking, domestic abuse, sex education and inequities in health and education.  Non-profit organizations included FAIR Girls, The Baltimore Community Foundation, Creative Alliance, Teens with a Purpose, Best Buddies of Maryland, Heart to Hand, Inc. and the NAACP. Two scholars created their own organization, Community Pipeline that will coordinate college student skill-specific mentoring of area middle school students.

Offered through its ARHU Center for Synergy, the program is an opportunity for students, regardless of major, to work closely with a faculty mentor and a non-profit organization to learn how to develop and implement a strategy for social innovation in a cause they care about.   We are looking for students who are passionate, creative and talented enough to research and develop useful strategies.  Each student works with a different organization in a customized program.  Over the course of a calendar year, scholars research, design and implement their own innovative solution to the organization’s challenges.


The College of Arts and Humanities is accepting applications for the third cohort in its Social Innovation Scholars Program starting in spring 2015.