Fellowship FAQs

About the program

What is the purpose of the Carter Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Innovation?

The Carter Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Innovation is designed to stimulate solutions by Rhode Islanders to Rhode Island challenges. The program, made possible through the generosity of Letitia and the late John Carter, provides funding for social impact. Carter Fellows 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. The Fellowship 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.

What do you mean by innovation?

Innovation can be defined in many different ways, we know. We are looking for new, novel, or re-energized approaches that have not meaningfully been tried at significant scale in Rhode Island.

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.

How will the Foundation know if this program is successful?

The success of this program will be judged over the long term. Our aim is to create a marketplace for Rhode Island solutions. If we give several smart people the freedom to apply creative and fresh thinking to important challenges, we believe placing a few of these “smart bets” will have significant social and community impact.

About applying

Can organizations apply?

No, the Fellowship is intended for individuals.

Can groups of individuals apply?

No, a team of more than one individual may not apply.

Can I submit more than one idea?

Yes, you may submit more than one application.

Can I start a business?

Fellowship ideas must respond to a Rhode Island challenge and have a clear community and social benefit. If you are proposing starting a for-profit venture, you should be explicit about the social outcomes of your work.

I applied last year. Can I reapply?

Yes, you can reapply with the same idea or a different proposal.

What if I live outside Rhode Island?

The Fellowship criteria describe “Rhode Islanders” broadly. You must commit to living in Rhode Island during the four years of the Fellowship. Those who have a deep connection to Rhode Island will be viewed favorably in the selection process.

How do I apply?

The first step is to submit a short letter of intent online by 11:59 p.m. on December 19, 2017. Learn more about the application process.

How much can I ask for?

Fellows will be awarded up to $50,000 annually for up to four years. In other words, you may request as much as $50,000 each year, $200,000 total.

How can the funding be used?

The significant financial support provided by the Fellowship enables Fellows to concentrate time on the idea proposed in the application. The Fellowship is unrestricted, and Fellows are expected to devote concentrated time to their work during the term of the Fellowship and engage in activities that further the development and implementation of the idea. Examples of activities include piloting the idea, convening outside perspectives to shape the idea and build buy-in, purchasing equipment or materials, and conducting research. The funding may be used for individual financial support and/or direct project costs.

Fellows are required to meet with judges every six months to share progress, challenges, and lessons learned. Progress must be demonstrated throughout the Fellowship to continue receiving funding. Each Fellow will be required to submit an annual written report documenting activities, expenses, and outcomes.

When can I apply for this year’s Fellowship?

Now through the deadline of 11:59 EST on December 19, 2017. The application will close electronically and no applications will be accepted after the deadline. We encourage you to submit your completed application in advance of the deadline.

Is using the online application the only way to apply for the Fellowship?

Yes. All applications must be submitted through our online system. No paper materials, separate emails, or attachments will be accepted.

Do the judges provide applicants with individualized feedback?

Due to the volume of applications, the judges do not provide feedback to individual applicants.

Is the Fellowship considered taxable income?

Recent tax laws suggest that fellowships are taxable income. We urge you to consult your tax advisor.

About selecting

How are Fellows selected?

The Rhode Island Foundation has invited three judges to select the Fellows. Depending on the subject matter of specific proposals, the judges may choose to consult outside experts as appropriate.

How were the judges chosen?

Judges were chosen by the Rhode Island Foundation.

How will the judges evaluate applications?

Learn more about the selection criteria.

When will decisions be made?

We expect to announce the 2018 Fellows in April 2018.


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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