6 Academic Competitions to Help Students Become Great Social Entrepreneurs
Posted February 11, 2022 by Miranda Marshall
The world of business is changing. Consumers no longer rally around the companies that simply create products they love…they want to see companies that support causes that matter to them.
Social entrepreneurship is all about building a business that focuses on solving social issues and enacting change. Social entrepreneurs either form non-profits, or they blend for-profit goals with generating a positive impact on society or their community.
Social entrepreneurship is becoming more and more popular among younger generations, with organizations like SEIF finding that the average age of their social entrepreneur applicants was 34, with most CEOs and Founders being born in the 1990s. HuffPost even found that a staggering 94% of Millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause.
The economic focus of future generations is clearly shifting from profit to other important priorities like family, community, and the environment, and as a result, there are now many amazing options available for young social entrepreneurs in the competition space!
Check out these six entrepreneurship competitions that provide students with an avenue to grow their social entrepreneurship enterprises, network with other socially-conscious peers, and even earn awards and gain access to resources that will help them throughout their careers.
Free to Apply
Rise is a competition uniquely designed for students who are passionate about social entrepreneurship. The program allows anyone who applies to join their global network, which connects students to leaders in social entrepreneurship and allows them to access free online courses and opportunities from their partners around the world.
Rise’s Global Winners receive individualized, lifelong support to empower them to achieve their goals and serve others. Winners are invited to a fully-funded, three-week residential summit, receive mentoring and career support, gain access to virtual and in-person leadership and educational courses, earn a four-year scholarship to any accredited university, and are awarded with a technology package.
Lifetime benefits for Rise Global Winners even include graduate-level scholarships, program and internship matching, and ongoing funding opportunities!
Free to Register
The YES! Program helps young entrepreneurs develop successful businesses by providing education, tools, and resources. Applicants must submit a professional pitch to be considered, and viable businesses will be selected to participate in the online business Accelerator, receive mentorship, and attend interactive virtual workshops.
Top businesses will have the opportunity to give a live pitch for a chance to receive up to $30,000 in funding for their startup, as well as an entire year of professional support to take their business to the next level.
The NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge is an eight-month-long series of business plan and pitch competitions that take place at the local, regional and national levels, culminating in a high-stakes national championship in New York City.
The Challenge begins with pitch competitions at the local classroom or camp level. Pitch competition winners have the potential to advance to the regional, then national level. National finalists compete against the best young entrepreneurs from across the country for the chance to win seed capital they can use to grow their business, launch a new business, or pursue their education goals.
Free to Register
The Blue Ocean Competition is an internationally recognized pitch competition for young entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs. Thousands of students around the world compete to win cash prizes for their three to five-minute-long business pitches, and are scored based on their innovation and creativity, market potential, feasibility, presentation quality, and use of Blue Ocean concepts.
Free to Apply
A great fit for social entrepreneurs in the environmental space, the Brower Youth Award is a program of the Earth Island Institute. Every year, the Brower Youth Award recognizes six young leaders who are making a positive impact on the environment. Brower Youth Award winners must demonstrate excellent leadership, as well as a commitment to the communities their work serves.
Winners’ documentaries are shown on the night of the awards ceremony, and they each have the opportunity to deliver an acceptance speech about their project or campaign. Each winner receives a $3,000 cash prize, and becomes a Brower Youth Awards alumni, keeping them connected with past winners. Leading up to the award ceremony, the New Leaders Initiative provides a week-long forum that includes mentorship, training, visioning, networking, and career coaching to build skills and capacity to effect change.
The program has a deep commitment to elevating voices from socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds so that they can move forward as successful innovators and activists.
Free to Apply
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors 25 outstanding youth leaders from diverse backgrounds across North America every year. Young leaders and social entrepreneurs are awarded this prize based on their positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment.
Winners receive a $10,000 award, a personalized plaque and certificate, a Young Heroes Materials package, induction into the Barron Prize young heroes network, and print, television, and radio media coverage to extend the reach of their service work.