You can become a social innovator.
Whether you're passionate about mental health, inclusive education, sustainable energy, or something else entirely, our programs are for you.
We provide workshops and events, access to mentors, and up to $20,000 in funding for your team.
Most importantly, whether you're a beginner or an experienced innovator, you'll find a supportive community of like-minded students and mentors who want to help you succeed.
Here's how it works:
This Challenge is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Contact us if you want to launch optiMize in your area!
October-February: Workshops and Events
Workshops bring in entrepreneurs and thought leaders to lead action-based sessions where you learn new skills and apply them to your project. Topics include value propositioning, positive visioning, prototyping and pilot testing, storytelling, and pitching.
Innovate Nights are casual events to eat and hang out together as a community, test prototypes, and bounce ideas with peers and mentors in a collaborative working space.
Mentor Check Ins bring together Challenge teams and local mentors in a supportive small group setting. Instead of only pitching what's going great, we delve into the challenges we're facing. Everyone at the table commits to share openly and give honest, caring feedback to help each other find a positive way forward.
February: Pitch for up to $20,000
In February, you'll tell your story: where you started, how far you've come, your vision for sustainable impact, and your key next steps.
If selected for funding, your team will receive up to a $5,000 grant, plus living stipends for each team member to work full-time on your project in the optiMize Summer Fellowship.
Funded teams present at a Year-End Showcase to an audience of hundreds of people from the Michigan community.
Miss the October deadline? We still want to help you! Submit your idea and we'll be in touch.