Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship

The Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship is designed to fuel solutions by Rhode Islanders to Rhode Island challenges.

The program, made possible through the vision and generosity of philanthropists Letitia and John Carter, provides seed funding for social impact. Rhode Island Innovation Fellows receive up to $300,000 over three years to develop, test, and implement innovative ideas that have the potential to dramatically improve any area of life in Rhode Island. Two Fellows are selected annually.

Our goal is to invest in Rhode Island’s potential. The Fellowship will focus on the greatest good for the greatest number of Rhode Islanders, an idea that has big potential to be built to scale, or new approaches to longstanding challenges. This Fellowship is built around the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovative; therefore, risk-taking is essential. We expect failures, or at least non-conclusive results after three years, for some Fellows.

Please note: The 2014 application deadline has passed.

Selection Panel

The Foundation has convened a panel of key leaders, thinkers, and doers to select the Rhode Island Innovation Fellows:

Neil D. Steinberg, Chair, President & CEO, Rhode Island Foundation
Patricia Flanagan, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Clinical Affairs, Hasbro Children’s Hospital
Ted Nesi, Political and Economic Reporter, WPRI
Lisa Utman Randall, Executive Director, Jamestown Arts Center
Dan Shedd, President, Taylor Box Company
Rosanne Somerson, Interim President, Rhode Island School of Design
Don Stanford, Chief Innovation Officer, GTECH

Selection Criteria

The panel will be evaluating each candidate and his/her idea on knowledge, enthusiasm, focus, and presentation. Selection criteria include:

1. The idea itself

  • How innovative and/or proven is the proposed solution?
  • What challenge does it address?

2. The applicant

  • What are the applicant’s background and credentials?
  • Is he/she committed to Rhode Island?
  • Does he/she have passion and vision around this issue?

3. Potential impact

  • What is the potential social and economic impact of this idea?
  • If successful, could it be scaled for even greater impact?

4. Plan behind idea

  • How implementable is the plan?
  • What’s the timeframe for action?
  • How does the applicant plan to access and deploy resources?

5. Ability to get resources elsewhere

  • Would the Fellowship provide a unique and important source of venture capital for this idea?

6. Multiplier effect

  • Will this idea leverage resources from other sources?
  • Will it generate excitement and energy within a broader community?

Qualifications and Expectations

Only Rhode Islanders aged 18 or older are eligible to apply. Recipients must commit to staying in Rhode Island for the three-year duration of the Fellowship. Elected officials, Rhode Island Foundation employees and board members, and their family members are ineligible to apply.

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.

In addition, each Fellow will meet annually with the selection panel to review his/her progress, challenges, and future plans. Each Fellow will be required to submit a written report documenting activities supported by the Fellowship, results, and lessons learned. In addition, at the conclusion of the Fellowship, Fellows will be asked to share their work broadly, offering insights to inform and advance future work.

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

Application Process

This is a three-stage application process.

1. Interested candidates must complete the one-page online application by 11:59 p.m. on December 12, 2014. The application asks for brief (150-word limit per question) responses to the following questions:

  • The Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship is designed to stimulate solutions by Rhode Islanders to Rhode Island challenges. Briefly describe your idea.
  • Summarize how you would use this Fellowship to accomplish your idea.
  • Why do you believe you should receive the Fellowship?
  • If this idea were successfully developed and implemented, what would be the resulting benefit to the community?

2. If your idea is selected for the next phase of consideration, you will be notified by February 2015. The second phase of the application will include a request for a compelling rationale for your project, references, a more detailed project plan (including timeline and budget), and a short video.

3. The selection panel will select up to 10 finalists, who will be invited to interview with the panel. Two Rhode Island Innovation Fellows will be announced in April 2015.

To apply

Complete this one-page online application


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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