Collaborate with a Schwab Social Entrepreneurship Fellow!

The Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship encourage MIT students to collaborate on service projects with Schwab Fellows.

What is a Schwab Social Entrepreneurship Fellow?

Schwab Fellows are outstanding social entrepreneurs whose work meets three criteria:

Innovation: The entrepreneur has brought about social change by transforming traditional practice.

Sustainability: The entrepreneur has generated the social conditions and/or institutions needed to sustain the initiative and is dedicating all of his/her time to it.

Direct social impact: The entrepreneur has founded, developed and implemented the entrepreneurial initiative directly, together with poor or marginalized beneficiaries and stakeholders. Impact manifests itself in quantifiable results and testimonials and is well documented.

Why collaborate with a Schwab Fellow?

The Schwab Fellows are established social entrepreneurs who are looking to scale-up their enterprises. Collaborating with these Fellows is a great way to contribute to an organization that is making a real difference in the community while learning from people who are very experienced in the field of social entrepreneurship.

Meet some of the Fellows

Many of the Schwab Fellows work in the fields of energy, enterprise development, health, rural development, technology, and water, but other fields of development are also well represented.

You can find profiles of all 150 Schwab Fellows at http://www.schwabfound.org/sf/SocialEntrepreneurs/index.htm

Here are a few synopses to get you started:


Through his innovative ideas, Fabio Rosa founded the Institute for the Development of Natural Energy and Sustainability (IDEAAS) in 1992, which has pioneered systems to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of impoverished rural Brazilians. The Palmares Project was designed to offer sustainable “agro-electric” solutions that combine photovoltaic solar energy, electric fencing and improved farming and grazing systems to simultaneously combat poverty, land degradation, and global warming.


International Development Enterprises - India (IDEI) has flourished under the direction of Amitabha Sadangi, who was instrumental in launching the treadle pump program for subsistence and small family farm owners. IDEI has identified micro-irrigation solutions, such as compact plot irrigation technologies, as a strategic entry point to poverty alleviation. In 2003 Sadangi established a for-profit sister company, Global Easy Water Products, to allow private investors to invest in the spread and replication of its irrigation technologies.

Enterprise development

In 1997, Linda Rottenberg founded Endeavour, and organization which aims to help high-potential entrepreneurs flourish in emerging markets where they are often overlooked and face significant barriers to success. Endeavor has opened the door to capital for new entrepreneurs by providing them with role models, mentors and the audacity to “think big.” Although Endeavour originally operated only in Argentina, today Rottenberg is recognized for empowering high-impact entrepreneurs worldwide and for inspiring a new generation of philanthropists.

How to find a Schwab Fellow to work with

  1. Start early! You need to allow time to develop your collaboration before applying for funding.
  2. Go to the Schwab Foundation website and search their database of Schwab Social Entrepreneurship Fellows: http://www.schwabfound.org/sf/SocialEntrepreneurs/Profiles/index.htm You can search by geographical area, sector of impact, and type of organization.
  3. If you find a Schwab Fellow you are interested in collaborating with, first visit the Schwab Fellow’s website to see if they have a formal mechanism for accepting fellows, interns, or volunteers. If they do, follow path A below. If not, follow path B.

A – If the Schwab Fellow has a formal mechanism for recruiting volunteers

  • Use this mechanism to make contact with the Entrepreneur and their organization. If they have such a mechanism, but aren’t advertising positions for January, you can contact them and propose working with them during that time. Because most colleges don’t have a January break, many organizations don’t advertise projects for this time but are often open to hearing from students who are available then.
  • If the Schwab Fellow’s organization then accepts you as a collaborator, apply to the appropriate PKG Center program for support (see the end of this document for program links.)

B – If the Schwab Fellow does not have a formal mechanism for recruiting volunteers

  1. Email Alison at fellowships-staff@mit.edu and explain how you envisage yourself collaborating with the Schwab Fellow(s) you are interested in.

Include the following information:

  • Your name, course, and class
  • Name of the Schwab Fellow you would like to collaborate with and the name of their organization
  • In a few paragraphs, describe the ways in which you would like to contribute to the Schwab Fellow’s work.
  • Describe what you would bring to the project in terms of directly applicable skills, knowledge, first-hand experience, job experience, hobbies, etc.

Alison will work with the Schwab Foundation to connect you with the Schwab Fellow’s you are interested in. We cannot guarantee that the Schwab Fellow will choose to collaborate with you, but the Foundation strongly encourages their Schwab Fellows to collaborate with students and is excited to work with MIT students in this way.

  1. If the Schwab Fellow’s organization then accepts you as a collaborator, apply to the appropriate PKG Center program for support.

PKG Center Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Public Service Center’s Fellowships, Internships, or Grants programs. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If your project involves a significant innovation, it may also be suitable for the IDEAS Global Challenge.

If you will be working in the US for an organization that is based in the US and you are eligible for Federal Work-Study, you should also consider our Community Service Work-Study program.

If you have funding from outside the PKG Center that enables you to work on one of these projects, that’s great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don’t use our funds. And remember, the PKG Center staff are happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves.