Changemaker Challenge

The Changemaker Challenge is a student pitch competition organized by Students for Social Innovation (SSI), Student Affairs, and the Leadership, Ethics and Values (LEV) program. Students generate ideas for innovative ventures or projects that respond to a social, economic, environmental or justice issue of their choice. Students then compete for grant funding (Heston Grant), seed funding (Hartner Fund), or Big Idea Grants to launch or expand their ventures or projects. Up to $13,000 in award money and mentoring is available to support the implementation. Social ventures or projects may be for-profit, nonprofit, or hybrid models with a domestic or international focus. A panel of distinguished campus and community members will serve as judges for the event. 

Keynoting the event will be Justin Dillon. A professional musician turned filmmaker and social entrepreneur, Justin Dillon is Founder and CEO of Made in a Free World, an award-winning platform that brings together consumers, organizations and businesses to disrupt the $150B business of human trafficking. Justin’s leadership as a “practitioner of change” has awakened a global movement of more than 30 million, improved laws and freed thousands of slaves. He has advised the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, the White House, the Vatican, Fortune 500 companies, and more on issues of innovation and social justice. He is the Director of influential films—with voices like Cornel West, Questlove, Amber Valetta and Nicholas Kristof—including Call+Response and Common Dreams for CNN. Justin has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Fast Company, Vogue, CNN, CBS, FOX, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, NPR, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Rolling Stone, and more. His work has received many high-profile accolades including a Cannes Lion Award and a SXSW Interactive Innovation Award.

Competition Details

Any degree seeking student may submit a proposal with details about their idea, why they think it would work, and a proposed budget beginning Friday, October 13th here:


Proposals will be reviewed and an initial pitch round will be held on Tuesday, October 31st, 12-2pm and Thursday, November 2nd 4-5pm in the 40 E. Jefferson House conference room.

Finalists will be chosen and will pitch in front of judges on Thursday, November 9th, 6:00- 8:00pm in Meiley-Swallow Theatre.

Winners may receive one of the following:

  • Individual mentoring to further their idea for future funding

  • Idea Grant award of up to $250 sponsored by LEV

  • Mironda K. Heston Grant award of up to $2500

  • Social Entrepreneurship Fund award of up to $2500 + mentoring to launch a social venture.


For more information, contact Whitney Roberts, Assistant Director for Civic Engagement,