Develop an innovative solution to a problem associated with poverty and pitch for a chance to win up to $20,000 plus an invite to a community of entrepreneurs and investors who’ll help turn your idea into a successful venture.

Acumen, with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, is equipping student innovators to solve problems associated with poverty through a global challenge platform. Student teams from around the world are coming together to explore areas of opportunity, develop ideas, and pitch for funding and mentorship.

Are you a university student that wants to solve problems that matter? You’re in the right place.

  • Learn about social challenges from experts in the field
  • Form a team and an idea for solving one of them
  • Refine your idea through online courses and Learning Labs
  • Pitch your idea for a chance to win funding, mentorship, and support

Challenge Areas:

Today’s issues are too complex to tackle alone. Through our platform, students are forming teams and coming up with solutions to the challenge areas they’ve outlines below:

  • Workforce Development
    Making decent work and quality education accessible and affordable for people with barriers to employment.
  • Financial Inclusion
    Reducing poverty through financial products, services, and platforms that build and protect wealth.
  • Health
    Improving access to and experience of care, and incorporating social determinants of health into a holistic definition of well-being.
  • Food and Agriculture
    Improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, combating food insecurity, and increasing health and nutrition.
  • Energy
    Accelerating access to clean, affordable, reliable energy through off-grid solutions.

The Competition Phases:

Phase 1 — All Participants: Register for Lean Startup and Submit Your Idea

  • Register for the Lean Startup online course before March 3, 2020.
  • Complete the course and submit your social venture idea before April 14, 2020
  • Top teams will be invited to join the Student Social Enterprise Accelerator

Phase 2 — Finalists: Student Social Enterprise Accelerator

  • Online Student Social Enterprise Accelerator will begin on June 8, 2020
  • Develop your idea with one-on-one coaching, peer mentoring, and case studies
  • Pitch your social venture to a panel of judges before August 18, 2020




  • Winning teams will receive up to $20,000 from a funding pool of $100,000
  • Winners will also be invited to join Acumen’s Community of Social Innovators to receive ongoing support from a network of Acumen Fellows, social entrepreneurs, and change-makers


  • Must be a student enrolled in a higher education institution
  • Must form a team of at least two people (at least one member but be a student)
  • Complete 4 of the 5 assignments in the Lean Startup course (including the final assignment) and submit an application for the Accelerator program. At least two team members must complete the Lean Startup course.
  • Interview for and be selected to participate in the Student Social Enterprise Accelerator program.
  • Participate in at least 7 of the 8 Accelerator Learning Labs and submit all assignments, including a final pitch deck. The pitch deck must include a budget for the prize funding and a three-month work plan including key milestones and dates.
  • Must not be a student of any of the following Universities:
    • Australian Catholic University
    • Bethel University
    • CETYS Universidad, Campus Tijuana
    • Davis College Akilah Campus
    • Duke University
    • Ewha University-Industry Collaboration Foundation Center for Entrepreneurship
    • Fordham University
    • Haverford College
    • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Heritage Christian College
    • Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion – Venezuela
    • International Islamic University Malaysia
    • Makerere University (Uganda)
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • National University of Management (International College)
    • NewSchool of Architecture & Design
    • North Dakota State University
    • Swarthmore College
    • The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
    • Trinity University Dublin
    • UC Berkeley
    • UC Davis
    • UC Irvine
    • UCLA
    • UC Merced
    • UC Riverside
    • UC San Diego
    • UC San Francisco
    • UC Santa Barbara
    • UC Santa Cruz
    • Universidad de Antioquia
    • Universidad de Desarrollo
    • Universidad Francisco de Vitoria
    • Universidad de la Americas – Ecuador
    • Universidad del Pacifico
    • University College of Technology Sarawak
    • University of Kentucky
    • University of Michigan
    • University of Minnesota
    • University of San Diego
    • University of St Thomas
    • University of Texas at Austin
Eligible Regions: Open for all

Application Process

Complete the online application form.

Application Deadline: March 3, 2020

Application ClosedOfficial link
Disclaimer: Youth Opportunities spreads opportunities for your convenience and ease based on available information, and thus, does not take any responsibility of unintended alternative or inaccurate information. As this is not the official page, we recommend you to visit the official website of opportunity provider for complete information. For organizations, this opportunity is shared with sole purpose of promoting “Access to Information” for all and should not be associated with any other purposes.

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