The New World Social Innovation Fellows Program supports selected students — Cheng Fellows — in taking action to advance progress against a pressing social problem through social innovation. We have found that successful applicants do not always think of themselves as “social innovators”. We encourage applications from civil servants, intrapreneurs within large organizations, social entrepreneurs, activists, and changemakers with dedicated passion and clear drive to solve a defined social problem. Our 2024-25 New World Social Innovation Fellows Program application is now closed. Applications for the next cycle will open in May 2025.


April 11, 2024 | 11:30 am ET: Virtual information session.

May 1, 2024 | 4:00 pm ET: Virtual information session.

May 3, 2024 | 12:00 pm ET: Application opens.

May 21, 2024 | 9:00 am ET: Virtual information session.

June 3, 2024 | 11:59 pm ET: Application deadline.

June 3 – July 5, 2024: Application review. 

  • Review Process: SICI engages a community of close collaborators, including Harvard partners and field experts, to review applications. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application throughout the summer. Due to the volume of applicants, we do not respond to individual emails regarding application status.
  • Supplemental Material: We may request supplemental information from candidates that advance in the application process.

July 5, 2024: Finalists notified. Selected candidates will receive an interview request via email and must respond before July 8 to secure an interview slot. 

July 8, 2024 | 9:00 am ET: Deadline for finalists to respond to interview invitations.

July 11 – 17, 2024: Finalist interviews.

July 22, 2024: Decision notifications.

September 3, 2024: First session of the 24-25 New World Social Innovation Fellows Program.


The New World Social Innovation Fellows Program currently accepts applications from students in the following schools:

  • Harvard Business School: Applicants from HBS must graduate in Spring 2025.
  • Harvard College: Applicants from Harvard College must graduate in Spring 2025 or 2026.
  • Harvard Divinity School: Applicants from HDS must graduate in Spring 2025.
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design: Applicants from HGSD must graduate in Spring 2025.
  • Harvard Graduate School of Education: Applicants from HGSE must graduate in Spring 2025. EdLD students may only apply as rising second-year students (Spring 2026 graduation).
  • Harvard Kennedy School: Applicants from HKS must graduate in Spring 2025, including the one-year MC/MPA program.
  • Harvard Law School: Applicants from HLS must graduate in Spring 2025.
  • Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Applicants from SEAS must graduate in Spring 2025.
  • Harvard School of Public Health: Applicants from HSPH must graduate in Spring 2025. DrPH students may apply as rising second-year students or rising third-year students (Spring 2025 or 2026 graduation).

Joint degree and part-time students must be currently enrolled in one of the above programs and graduate in Spring 2025 to apply.

Pairs are eligible to apply; however, all applicants must meet the eligibility requirements outlined above. Each person must submit an application and will be assessed on an individual basis. 

SICI funding per organization is not to exceed $30K per year.

Applicant Resources

Information Sessions

The SICI team will be hosting information sessions for interested applicants on April 11, May 1, and May 23. Join us to learn more about the program experience, selection process, and tips for preparing a strong application. 

Visit the SICI events page to register for an information session.

View the recording of our most recent information session here.

Office Hours

The SICI team is hosting office hours for interested students on May 6 – May 29. Applicants can sign up for a 25-minute meeting to discuss questions about the program or application process. To maintain an equitable process, we will not advise applicants on their social change efforts during this time.

Click here to sign up for office hours.

Evaluation Rubric

We encourage applicants to carefully review the New World Social Innovation Fellows Program evaluation rubric in advance of applying.  There are no “hidden criteria” – we assess applicants based on exactly what is described in the rubric. Please know that you do not need to have “3’s” in all categories to become a Fellow – in fact, no applicant has ever received these marks. We expect growth and development throughout the year. 

Access the Cheng Evaluation Rubric here.

Program Structure

Each year, the Social Innovation and Change Initiative invites up to 15 exceptional students to join the New World Social Innovation Fellows Program. Selected students attend weekly co-curricular sessions for the duration of the program (AY 2024-25) at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sessions will be held in-person or hybrid according to the needs of the cohort.

Through a rigorous program experience, Fellows refine their understanding of a specific social problem, reflect on their personal identities and sources of power, and take action in finding their unique pathway forward, making concrete plans to continue their work post-graduation. Students are expected to remain in good academic standing for the duration of their participation in the program. Domestic and international students are encouraged to apply.