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How does the Changemaker Challenge work?

Students with innovative project, prototype, venture or community partnership ideas that solve local and/or global challenges submit ideas are encouraged to attend an information session about the Challenge. Applicants should develop their ideas and submit proposals by 6 p.m. (Arizona Time) on November 20, 2016. Finalists will be announced in January 2017. Students who advance to the finalist round will be asked to deliver elevator pitches before a panel of judges on February 11, 2017. Winners will be announced in the Spring of 2017. Funds will be distributed on a reimbursement basis. Winners will have until March 2017, to utilize funds and implement their ideas.

What is innovation?

Innovation is a change of thought process or an introduction of a new product or service. Therefore, an innovative idea doesn’t have to be new, but it can also be about rethinking a product, process, or service; enhancing a product, process, or service; or applying new knowledge to a product, process, or service. Innovations can be big or small, entirely new or slight alterations, extremely complex or very simple.

Why does entrepreneurship matter?

Entrepreneurship drives the creation of solutions to local and global challenges; being an entrepreneur is about bringing innovative ideas out into the world. These ideas might be socially, economically, artistically or intellectually motivated, or some combination of the above. And these ideas might turn into programs, products, services or ventures. 

What is the Changemaker Challenge schedule?


Changemaker Challenge – 2016-17 Dates & Deadlines
Info Sessions


Final Information Session Hours:
Saturday November 19, 2016 – Tempe (T)** - Noon – 6 p.m.
Sunday November 20, 2017 – Tempe (T)** - Noon – 6 p.m

Office Hours


Final Office HoursSaturday November 19, 2016 – Tempe (T)** - 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday November 20, 2016 – Tempe (T)** - 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Application DeadlineSunday, November 20, 2016 at 6 p.m.
Pitch Practice (by appointment)Weeks of January 30, 2017 and February 5, 2017
Pitch DaySaturday February 11, 2076 - Tempe (T)** 
Awards CeremonyTBD

** Note all locations at Changemaker Central
**Downtown (D), Polytechnic (P), Tempe (T), West (W)

Who can enter?

All full- or part-time students at Arizona State University can participate. Individual students or teams (of up to 5 members) are eligible. Each team must have a designated team leader; team leaders must be full-time or part-time undergraduate or graduate degree-seeking ASU students for the full 2015-2016 school year. Final round applicants will be asked to provide proof of enrollment for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters. Team leaders must be in good academic standing. Teams are encouraged to incorporate members from different departments or colleges within the university. Teams may also have members who are not affiliated with the university.

Can I reapply if I am a previous winner of Changemaker Challenge?

Yes, winners can still reapply if they have a new project.

As a previous winner, am I eligible for more funding?

All students are eligible to win no more than $10,000 from Changemaker Challenge. If you have won more than $10,000 you will not be eligible for more funding from Changemaker Challenge.

Will my idea be owned by ASU if I apply and/or win Changemaker Challenge funds?

Submitting an idea to the Changemaker Challenge (and being awarded Changemaker Challenge funds) does not grant the university intellectual property rights to the idea.

Can I enter Changemaker Challenge and Edson?

Yes! In fact, we encourage you to consider multiple opportunities to help move your idea forward.

How much does it cost to apply?

There is NO FEE for applying or advancing in the Changemaker Challenge.

What does a community partnership mean?

For the project to be eligible as a community partnership project, the student must get approval by the organization to implement the idea. The idea must come from the student and be implemented by the team. The team’s mentor should be an employee of the organization with which the team wishes to partner. View our past winners for examples.

What are the restrictions on the organization that I can partner with? (E.g. size, industry, etc.)

Students may submit partnership ideas to work with any organization, other than an ASU entity. That is, students may propose ideas to work with organizations in the nonprofit, for-profit or government sectors. They may propose ideas to work with very large and very small organizations. They may propose ideas to work with organizations from any industry. What matters is the impact of the partnership on positive change in our local and global communities.

Why do I need a mentor? (E.g. size, industry, etc.)

We require that each team identify a mentor because teams that have the expertise of mentors to draw from are more successful in conceptualizing and implementing their ideas. We want you to learn from the skills and knowledge of your mentor and secure their support in nurturing your idea as you transform it into reality.

Who can be a mentor?

Mentors may be ASU faculty, staff, or alumna/us. They may also be working professionals who have no ASU-affiliation. Mentors may be from any industry or profession. We encourage you to seek a mentor who can help you move your idea forward.

What does a mentor have to do?

Mentors should be well positioned to provide you with guidance as you transform your idea into reality. A list of mentor responsibilities is found here.

What does student-led mean?

For a project, prototype, venture or community partnership idea to qualify for the Changemaker Challenge, it must be student-led. That means that the idea must be an original idea created by the student (and team), and the implementation is performed by the student (and team). Mentors should provide guidance.

If I don’t have a team, does that mean I can’t win?

No. If you don’t have a team, your proposal may still be awarded funds; however, we strongly encourage you to recruit team members who can complement your skill set. In fact, transdisciplinary teams are highly encouraged, and are, in many cases, the most successful, as transdisciplinary team members’ skills and knowledge often complement one another.

Can I be the team leader on more than one team?

Yes, students can lead more than one team.

Can I be a team leader on one team and just a member on another team?

Yes, students can participate (as team leaders or team members) on more than one team.

If I participate on multiple teams, can I be awarded funds for more than one proposal?

Yes, students may be awarded funds for more than one proposal.

What exactly is a proposal, and how do I draft a strong proposal?

A proposal is a document that describes the idea you hope to implement. Changemaker Challenge proposals should thoroughly yet concisely address four core areas: innovation, impact, implementation, and presentation. For tips on writing a successful proposal, consider attending a Changemaker Challenge Information Session; or get direct feedback on your proposal when you drop in for Changemaker Challenge Office Hours.

What exactly is a proposal, and how do I draft a strong proposal?

Metrics provide you with a way to measure your success and impact. The acronym SMART will help you develop brief, clear and specific statements to describe how you will evaluate your success.

  1. Specific-Your metrics should be concrete, detailed, defined with clear indications of who is involved, what they are expected to do, and why.
  2. Measurable-Be clear and provide specific criteria to demonstrate change; quantify who will be affected by your idea and what the benefits will be.
  3. Achievable-Ideas that are achievable can be implemented through a realistic plan and timeline, and objectives can be met and measured within resource constraints (e.g., time, money, skills, capacity).
  4. Relevant-There should be a clear link between your metrics and the larger goal of the project/program.
  5. Time-bound-You should have a specific timeframe in mind for when you will achieve objectives and goals.

Project: a mentoring program that will connect young pregnant teens with mentors—women who experienced teen pregnancy themselves and ultimately graduated from a college or university.
Example Metric: After attending 3 mentor-mentee events, 100% of mentored teens will express intentions to pursue a college education; 75% will report feeling ready to attend college.

Prototype: a toy that will help children with Down Syndrome learn motor skills.
Example Metric: By March 2017, we will have a toy prototype that can serve Down Syndrome children that can be piloted at Sunny Children’s Center in downtown Phoenix, a physical therapy center for children with Down Syndrome. Five children will utilize the prototype over the course of the semester, and their progress will be evaluated by their physical therapists, so that prototype improvements can be made.

Venture: a venture that will provide emotional labor training to corrections officers
Example Metric:  By the end of our first year in business, we will have provided training to 20 Phoenix corrections officers, 15 of whom will feel ready to train their colleagues in emotional labor management skills. All 20 officers will report lower amounts of stress the week immediately following their training.

Community Partnership: three-week on-campus campaign in partnership with Sustainable America to increase recycling habits among cosmetics users
Example Metric: By the end of the campaign, over 90% of program participants will rate the program as highly effective in changing their attitudes about the need for recycling cosmetics packaging

What does it mean to scale?

A scalable project is a project that has the properties to grow. According to the Skoll Foundation, “the idea of scale is focused on creating a lasting and significant impact” When grading scalability we also consider the sustainability of your project. How will the project continue after the Changemaker Challenge funds have run out? For example, consider a proposal to fund a community service project that will engage 500 students. Although 500 students may seem like a large number, scale has not been achieved because the project will end after one day. A stronger proposal would design a system to engage students in ongoing projects that solve social problems in multiple locations with the capacity to expand over time.

Why is scaling my idea an important goal?

Scaling is important because it allows you to seriously consider the long-term impact of your work, rather than focusing merely on the generation of a short-term solution to local and global challenges. Considering your idea’s ability to scale does not mean that you must have a ten-year plan for your growing your idea; it does mean that you must consider ways that your project can be continued by you or someone else.

What happens if I don’t use all of the money by the deadline?

The funds are retained by the university for future Changemaker Challenge Award recipients.


Who is behind the Changemaker Innovation Challenge?

The Changemaker Challenge is a program of Changemaker Central @ ASU. The Changemaker Challenge Team is composed of members of the Changemaker Student Leadership Team and individuals who hold various positions at the university related to student involvement, innovation, entrepreneurship and academic excellence.


How can community members get involved?

Community members can get involved by sponsoring a Changemaker Challenge prize, mentoring students or attending events to support students who are pursuing entrepreneurship paths. All roles are integral to the success of the Changemaker Challenge.