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Entrepreneurial Fellowships

Entrepreneurial fellowships might be a good fit for you if...

  • You are prepared to take the risks and seize the opportunities associated with creating your own organization
  • You have an innovative idea to change your community in positive ways that can be scaled or replicated elsewhere
  • You have a track record of leadership or show great promise as a leader and agent of change

Entrepreneurial fellowships provide support for individuals to launch innovative new projects and organizations that will effect social change. Unlike project-based fellowships, which require that an applicant partner with an established organization, entrepreneurial fellowships fund individuals who are in the process of launching new initiatives of their own. And unlike most other fellowships discussed in this guide, entrepreneurial fellowships do not exclusively (or even predominantly) support legal advocacy work. These are opportunities for those of you that have truly bold ideas, and are willing to think big and take risks to make them a reality.

Kent McKeever '12 with Clinical Dean Sue KayThe application process for these fellowships is intense and involved, and requires applicants to explain in great detail why their idea is so exceptional and how they will implement it.


Examples of entrepreneurial fellowships include:

  1. The Echoing Green Global Fellowship, Black Male Achievement Fellowship, and Climate Fellowship programs, each of which supports emerging leaders who have innovative ideas to bring about social change.
  2. The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation provides start-up funding to exceptional leaders and young organizations that have the potential to have a positive impact on the lives of many people on a national or international scale.

If you are committed to carrying out your idea for a public interest project but cannot find support from fellowship funders, you may want to consider raising money from other sources. You can apply for grants from foundations and corporations, or seek donations from law firms or individuals. You may be eligible for funding from more sources if you can find an existing non-profit organization to affiliate with. Vanderbilt Law School alumni have created their own non-profit organizations through creative fundraising and sheer grit! If this is the route that you wind up taking to make your public interest post-graduate dreams come true, the Foundation Center website will be a critical resource.


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