Applications are now open for the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship at Chicago Ideas Week 2015. The fellowship recognizes a group of young, socially-conscious leaders who have developed sustainable ventures addressing civic needs. The Fellowship provides them with exposure to nationally recognized business leaders, philanthropists and community leaders, funding to support their organization and a platform for growth.

The BHSI Fellowship was designed and created in 2011 by Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand as a way of advancing the next generation of social innovators, entrepreneurs and change agents.


  • The BHSI Fellows are hosted in Chicago for Chicago Ideas Week in October each year, all expenses covered.
  • Fellows gain exposure for their organizations and establish a community of support
  • Fellows receive a $10,000 financial contribution for their venture.

Fellowship Details

Each of the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellows receive $10,000 in unrestricted, non-equity financial support of their venture and joins a group of like-minded young innovators for a week of one-of-a-kind experiences including:

  • The opportunity to present their ventures at Chicago Ideas Week alongside leading innovators, entrepreneurs and thinkers in front of an exclusive audience
  • Intimate breakfasts and lunches with prominent business and political leaders. Past meetings have been hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Dreamworks Chairwoman and Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, Groupon Co-Founder and CEO Eric Lefkofsky, Equity Groups Chairman Sam Zell, Every Mother Counts Founder Christy Turlington Burns, Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert, and many others.
  • Access to Chicago Ideas speakers. Past speakers include Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Michael Bloomberg, Edward Norton, Deepak Chopra, Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Brokaw and Sandra Day O’Connor.


All applicants must be 35 years of age or younger (born on or after October 11, 1980).

  • Applicants may be from anywhere in the world.
  • Ventures may be for-profit or nonprofit ventures.
  • All ventures must demonstrate that they are innovative and addressing compelling social problems.
  • All ventures must demonstrate a sustainable model with proven results.
  • The dates of the formal program for the Fellowship are October 11–15.
  • All applicants must also be able to attend Chicago Ideas Week, which takes place October 12–18.

All semifinalists must travel to Chicago for in-person interviews. Airfare and hotel are coved by the Fellowship.


Are you ready to change the world? Apply and become one of the social innovation fellows.

Opportunity summary

Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship
A transformative 5-day workshop for entrepreneurs, activists, educators, and  innovators to facilitate change.
Application deadline: June 2, 2015
[Oops, the opportunity has already expired. Sign up to AlphaGamma weekly newsletters to stay ahead of the game]
 Chicago, IL, United States
Dates: Oct 11 – 15, 2015


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