Funding to Support HBCUs

Update: The 2023 application is now open. To learn more, visit or email Catherine Randle at

In February 2021, the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program received a generous donation to fund the participation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Over the next three years, students and educators at 60 HBCUs will have their program participation fees waived. The application deadline has been extended to May 17, 2021.

“Although HBCUs make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities, they enroll ten percent of all African American students and produce almost twenty percent of all African American graduates,” said program co-director Humera Fasihuddin. “Partnering with HBCUs to enhance innovation and entrepreneurship offerings for students will help strengthen the impact graduates have in their careers.”

In addition to the support for students to join the University Innovation Fellows program, this funding will support faculty innovators from these schools to use design tools and mindsets to reimagine their teaching practices. 

“Creating new possibilities in higher education will require that we examine our assumptions about what teaching and learning can be, and that we devote time and resources to supporting pedagogical innovators,” said program co-director Leticia Britos Cavagnaro. “We are thrilled to be able to expand our faculty development programs to include more colleagues from HBCUs.” 

Participating HBCUs will have:

  • Students who are trained to become University Innovation Fellows and create learning opportunities for peers at their school
  • Faculty and staff who support the University Innovation Fellows as “Faculty Champions.” Some of these educators can opt into the Faculty Innovation Fellows program and others can participate in the highly-acclaimed Teaching and Learning Studio workshop
  • Presidents and Provosts who attend an in-person gathering at Stanford to steer a national movement to expand innovation at HBCUs and in higher education as a whole


The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become leaders of change in higher education. Fellows create opportunities to help their peers build the creative confidence, agency, and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges and build a better future.


Students apply as part of a team, and they go through a 6-week online training after being accepted into the program. During training, they learn to conduct in-depth analyses of their campus ecosystems and create activities to fill needs they discover. 

Making an impact

Fellows build innovation spaces, start organizations, facilitate workshops, work with faculty and administrators to develop new courses, and much more. As soon as they begin training, students are instantly connected to a community that includes students and faculty from HBCUs as well as other institutions in the U.S. and around the world. This network allows them to learn from the work at similar schools and gain inspiration from students in vastly different ecosystems.


Faculty and staff play a key role in our global community and have two ways for them to participate in our offerings.

Faculty Champions

Faculty and staff who support the University Innovation Fellows as “Faculty Champions” serve as advocates, advising students in their projects and working to move obstacles that stand in the way of their progress. Faculty Champions are often the chief beneficiaries of the students’ impact as they work together to foster a culture of creativity and innovation. Up to four members of the campus community may be selected as Faculty Champions. The primary Faculty Champion can opt to participate in the Faculty Innovation Fellows. Educators in this global community of practice participate in a 2-year program to create strategic projects of value to their institutions.

Teaching and Learning Studio

Selected educators participate in the highly-acclaimed Teaching and Learning Studio workshop to experiment with research-supported strategies for experiential and student-centered pedagogy.


Participation in the program requires support from school leaders. The program’s leadership point of contact helps steer campus engagement in three key ways.

Letter of support

A letter of support from the President or VP-level leader of the school is required for each cohort of students participating in the University Innovation Fellows program.

Leaders meeting

Presidents and Provosts are invited to attend an annual in-person gathering at Stanford to steer a national movement to expand innovation at HBCUs and in higher education as a whole.

Engagement of campus innovation community

Our program’s student and faculty offerings are intended to support the administration’s strategic goals to accelerate innovative teaching and learning at each school. As such, leaders should play a key role in identifying the faculty and staff who will serve as Faculty Champions, as well as the selection of educators who participate in the Teaching and Learning Studio.

The program is currently accepting applications. Please contact program manager Catherine Randle at to learn how your school can take advantage of this opportunity.

Note: the end of the application involves paying the fee, so please reach out to Catherine before reaching the payment submission.

HBCUs that have been involved in the University Innovation Fellows program:

University Innovation Fellows Program Meetups

HBCU Innovation Summits

Teaching and Learning Studio (Faculty Professional Development)

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