Center for Peace and Commerce

Drop Shadow


2015 Dates and Deadlines will be announced soon

tba - Deadline to Apply

-- Semi-Finalists announced on March 21

tba - Written Plan and Video Due for Round 2 semifinalists

-- Finalists announced on April 17

tba - Round 3 finalists pitch their innovation in front of judges

May 1 - Awards Ceremony. Finalists give a fast pitch to a live audience and winners are announced!

Who Can Enter

All USD students, graduate and undergraduate, are encouraged to participate in the USD Social Innovation Challenge. For non-USD students, the external "San Diego Track" is available to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Spring 2015 at Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego City College, San Diego State University, and the University of California, San Diego. Students may enter as individuals or as part of a team. Students can use the online platform ( ) to recruit or join other teams.  The primary team member must be currently enrolled at one of the partner schools (listed above) at the time of project submission and the awards ceremony.
For further information, please refer to 2015 SIC Terms and Conditions.

Get Started

  1. Register and create a profile.
  2. Create or join a team.
  3. Complete your project page.
  4. Learn new skills and refine your ideas through attending the Idea Labs workshop series, connecting with the Center for Peace and Commerce staff, and accessing online resourcesSubmit your innovation.

Project Competitions: Four Phases of Innovation

We offer four project entry categories to reward and support innovations at all phases of social impact development. You can submit as many project entries as you’d like in any phase.

Define: social impacts and the innovation driving them exist conceptually in your head, or you've a few general ideas with limited research at this point.

Design: impact potentials are taking shape as project execution assumptions are tested with potential customer/beneficiaries, beginnings of formal internal and external teams and some details on project pilot locale and test elements are captured.

Pilot: the innovation project has been tested with a small group of customer/beneficiaries and is getting verifiable impacts. Team continues making project improvements based on live experience in the field.

Scale: the innovation has proven successful at achieving social impacts in more than one geographic area. The project has sustainable financial and human resource models with strong leadership and strategic partner support in place.

Judging Criteria

We’re looking for social innovations. What’s a social innovation? It’s an idea that significantly improves results or helps to solve existing social or environmental problems. We’re looking for innovations that can grow to create local or global impacts, and passion and abilities to drive such growth are as important as the innovation idea. USD Judges are Dell Social Innovation Challenge Certified and will evaluate projects using the following criteria:

Round 1: Clarity of the project proposal in answering the following 5 questions (This includes description of the innovation and significance of social/environmental impact potential as well as financial viability):

  • What is your innovation?
  • Who gains the most?
  • Who pays?
  • What is your success?
  • How will you do it?

Round 2: Demonstration of a high probability of success (i.e. effectiveness of the social/environmental impact and financial viability/sustainability).

Round 3: In addition to the criteria from Round 2, also consider the likelihood of implementation along the following areas:

  • Social impact
  • Financial viability/sustainability
  • Creativity/novelty/originality of idea
  • Potential efficacy/effectiveness of business

Students will also be given the opportunity to work with a mentor. See the mentorship page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions


*What is the eligibility criteria for an applicant?

Any USD student - undergraduate / graduate , from any of the schools within USD can apply. Students enrolled full time in Spring 2014 at Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego City College, San Diego State University, and the University of California, San Diego may also apply for the "San Diego Track."

* I am graduating in May 2015- can I apply?

Of Course! However, we would need your commitment towards implementing the project at least until the milestone review in Dec 2015.

* I am studying abroad in spring 2015- can I apply?

Yes, but at least one member from your team will need to be present in San Diego to pitch to judges and the live audience if you advance to the semi-finals or finals.

*My project is International and I might be out of the US next fall- busy implementing my project. How do I manage the milestone review in Dec 2015?

No Problem. If your project is international, the milestone review can be done via skype, VOIP or any other new technological innovation that can make international communication effecient.

*Can I apply as a team instead of applying as an individual?

Yes, Absolutely! We highly encourage working in a team.

* I am a USD faculty member/alumni - am I eligible to apply?

Currently, applications are open only to students. Faculty and alumni are invited to offer mentorship opportunities to students.

Social Innovation

What is a social innovation?

A social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than present solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals  (Stanford University)


Where can I find resources to help guide me? (Applicants are also welcome to approach the CPC for more resources specific to your project needs, if required)


*Where can I find mentor information?

* What is the mentor matching process?

Detailed Information on mentor-mentee matching can be found here:

*When is the mentorship requirement mandatory?

Throughout the May-December implementation period.

Privacy / Copyright

* Can I be assured that my project idea/proposal details would not be compromised?

Apart from the judging and the screening committee your proposal details will not be shared with anyone without your consent.

Please be informed that in the phase 2 of our contest (Project Pitching Stage), your presentations will have an audience.The extent to which you would want to disclose your project details will be solely based on your discretion.

Please read our confidentiality statement here : Intellectual_Property_SIC_2012

Previous Winners

Where can I find the list of last years’ winning projects?

More Information

Contact Nadia Auch at the Center for Peace and Commerce via email at

or call (619) 260-4857.