Future Unveiled: University Innovation Fellows Post-NSF Plans

An Open Letter to the University Innovation Fellows Community

We have big news! 

As you know, the University Innovation Fellows program was born as a successful program of the Epicenter. This center was created with the support of a 5-year National Science Foundation grant and has served as a lab for learning about how U.S. schools might embed innovation and entrepreneurship into the student experience.

We are thrilled to tell you that when Epicenter’s NSF grant ends on June 30, 2016, the University Innovation Fellows program will leave the lab and continue to empower students to change higher education!

In its very essence, the University Innovation Fellows program will remain unchanged. Today, we are providing you with a breakdown of what our exciting future entails:

What will remain the same?

  • The program will keep the same name and mission.
  • We will continue training new student change agents and welcoming students from all disciplines.
  • We will continue offering online training and in-person meetups to support the development of change agents on your campus. We are accepting applications for fall 2016 with the deadline of May 2, 2016. (Request an application today)

What will change?

  • The new home of the University Innovation Fellows program will be Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). The UIF program will continue under the leadership current directors Humera Fasihuddin and Leticia Britos Cavagnaro and with the support staff you know and love. We’ve always considered the d.school a center of gravity for the Fellows program and we are excited to create even further linkages between d.school initiatives and your change efforts on campus. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, come check out our new space!
  • Without subsidy from the NSF, we will need to increase the program fee from $2,000 to $4,000 per student. We thought long and hard about this decision. The increase won’t cover our entire budget, but it will go a long way. We know it won’t be easy for some institutions. But, ultimately, we leaned in favor of maintaining the integrity of the program aspects we know to be catalytic in support of Fellows.
  • Campuses can continue to sponsor a Leadership Circle of up to four students for a single $4,000 fee, with a letter from the president of the university.
  • For future Silicon Valley Meetups, schools will continue to be responsible for the costs of the students’ travel to California, but this will now include the price of their hotel stay (please note that this change does not apply to the March 2016 Meetup).
  • We’re going global! We will now be accepting applications for Fall 2016 from countries around the world (we have already received requests for applications).
  • We will also offer workshops and resources for those who sponsor Fellows (faculty, staff and administrators). These offerings will include a 4-day workshop on design thinking pedagogy and a program for sponsors of Fellows to learn best practices in achieving change through their student leaders. We hope that revenue generated from these offerings will contribute to supporting the program.
  • We are seeking new funding sources and collaborators to grow the program.

How can you help us continue to strengthen our future?

Like any good social venture, we would love to break even by generating revenue through program offerings our customers love. However, these revenue streams may take time to ramp up. Until that time, we need to secure philanthropic funding with donors and foundations. We may even launch a crowdfunding campaign! To support these fundraising campaigns, we are creating a video featuring the Fellows story of impact on campuses across the nation. This video will collect all of the amazing stories, voices and faces to show the power of our movement as we build this new future for the program. Want to submit a 15 second video of your impact? Email Stacey: stacey@universityinnovation.org. 

In the meantime, your work to create lasting institutional change is making a difference. This spring, we will publish articles, papers and books documenting Fellows’ impact, along with hard evidence from evaluators and researchers. We hope this will help expand the movement to new heights. We are grateful for all your hard work. Together we are ensuring a brighter future for young people in our nation.

For continued information and updates, follow the University Innovation Fellows program on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/universityinnovationfellows/
Twitter: @uifellows, #uifellows
Instagram: @uifellows, #uifellows

To learn more about the future of Epicenter’s other initiatives, please read the letter from the PI’s to the Epicenter community.

We are excited about what the future holds!


The University Innovation Fellows Team
Humera, Leticia, Katie, Laurie and Stacey




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