Carter Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Innovation

The Carter Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Innovation, made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter, is designed to stimulate solutions to Rhode Island challenges.

In encouraging Rhode Islanders to apply, 2017 Innovation Fellow Ditra Edwards says, "You have brilliant ideas...you see something that's important that needs to be addressed."

Application Information

This Fellowship is built around the spirit of entrepreneurship and seeks to achieve community impact by (1) investing in an individual’s creativity and potential and (2) providing freedom to apply creative and fresh thinking to important challenges. By innovation, we mean new, novel, or re-energized approaches. By impact, we are looking for results – tangible benefits for a significant number of Rhode Islanders, significant scale, and/or observable progress on significant and longstanding challenges. We seek Fellows who are bold in their thinking, eager to take initiative, willing to take risks, and capable of swift learning and iteration.

Fellows will receive up to $200,000 over four years to test and implement innovative ideas that could dramatically improve an area of life in Rhode Island. Up to three Fellows are selected annually.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully review all of the information on this page and the frequently asked questions.

Qualifications and Expectations

Rhode Islanders aged 18 or older are eligible to apply. Recipients must commit to staying in Rhode Island for the four-year duration of the Fellowship. Elected officials, Rhode Island Foundation employees and board members, and their family members are ineligible to apply. The Fellowship is intended for individuals, not organizations.

The funding is for individual financial support and/or direct project costs. Proposed ideas must specifically benefit Rhode Islanders. Ideas must be implementable, not merely theoretical, and issues of sustainability will be addressed during the application process.

A few notes on what is not eligible:

  • The program is intended for an individual; teams are not eligible to apply.
  • The program is not intended to support the work or programs of existing organizations.
  • This is not a typical business plan competition; we are looking for community benefit, not just commercial success.

Judges

Three judges will select the Fellows:
Marie Langlois
Alan Litwin
Lou Mazzucchelli

Selection Criteria

The judges will evaluate each proposal on the following criteria:

  • The solution is a new, novel, or re-energized approach. It is not something that has been tried meaningfully in Rhode Island.
  • The idea has the potential for results – tangible benefits for a significant number of Rhode Islanders and/or observable progress on significant and longstanding challenges.
  • It addresses a “problem” or seizes an opportunity that is extremely important for Rhode Island.
  • The applicant demonstrates a strong sense of entrepreneurship.
  • The applicant presents a compelling plan that seems do-able.
  • The resources requested would allow the applicant to produce real results.
  • The Fellowship would provide a unique and important source of capital for this idea. In other words, there is no other funding easily available for this idea.
  • The idea is inspiring. It would generate excitement within a broader community.

In this video clip, 2015 Innovation Fellow John Haley tells prospective applicants, “You don’t have to have a PhD to have a good idea.”

Application Process

This is a two-stage application process.

  1. The purpose of Phase 1 is to present an innovative idea that would have substantial impact with the Fellowship resources. Interested candidates must complete this one-page application by 11:59 p.m. on December 19, 2017. The application asks for you to describe your idea very briefly. (Preview the Phase 1 application.)
  2. The purpose of Phase 2 is to inspire the judges with your potential as a Fellow. Up to 12 finalists will be invited to interview with the judges. In advance of the interviews, finalists will be asked to submit a detailed workplan and budget that describes how they would proceed in implementing their idea. Finalists will be notified by early February.

    Up to three Fellows will be announced in April 2018.

Accountability

The Fellowship will be paid in $25,000 increments every six months. Fellows will meet with judges every six months to share progress, challenges, and lessons learned. Progress must be demonstrated throughout the Fellowship to continue receiving funding. Fellows must submit an annual written report documenting activities, expenses, and outcomes. In addition, at the conclusion of the Fellowship, Fellows will be asked to share their work broadly with the community, offering insights to inform and advance future work

Address

LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903
Directions

Contact

(401) 274-4564
info@rifoundation.org

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