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.

Applications for the 2022-23 academic year are now closed. The 2023-24 application will open in May 2023.


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

  • HKS: Applicants from HKS must graduate in Spring 2023, including the one-year Mid-Career program.
  • HBS: Applicants from HBS must graduate in Spring 2023.
  • HLS: Applicants from HLS must graduate in Spring 2023.
  • HGSD: Applicants from HGSD must graduate in Spring 2023.
  • HGSE: Applicants from HGSE must graduate in Spring 2023. EdLD students may only apply as rising second-year students (Spring 2024 graduation).
  • HSPH: Applicants from HSPH must graduate in Spring 2023. DrPH students may apply as rising second-year students or rising third-year students (Spring 2023 or 2024 graduation).
  • Harvard College: Applicants from Harvard College must graduate in Spring 2023 or 2024.
  • Joint degree and part-time students must be currently enrolled in one of the above programs and graduate in Spring 2023 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.


May 9, 2022 | 12:00 pm ET: Application opens.

June 10, 2022 | 11:59 pm ET: Application deadline.

June 10 – July 8, 2022: Initial 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 8, 2022: Finalists notified. Selected candidates will receive an interview request via email and must respond before the stated deadline to secure an interview slot. 

July 11, 2022 | 9:00 am ET: Deadline for finalists to respond to interview invitations.

July 15 – 19, 2022: Finalist interviews.

July 22, 2022: Decision notifications.

Applicant Resources

Information Sessions + Recordings

Each spring, the SICI team hosts information sessions for interested applicants to learn more about the Fellowship experience, selection process, and tips for preparing a strong application. 

Access the 2022 info session recording here.

Office Hours

The SICI team hosts office hours for interested students while the Cheng application is open. 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. 

Evaluation Rubric

We encourage applicants to carefully review the Cheng 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. 

Applicants can access the 2022-23 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 Fellowship. Selected students attend weekly co-curricular sessions for the duration of the program (AY 2022-23) at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sessions may be held in-person, hybrid, or virtually, depending on campus COVID-19 guidelines.

Through a rigorous Fellowship 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.