About the USD Social Innovation Challenge


The University of San Diego Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) promotes, guides, and supports student-driven ideas to launch or contribute to social enterprises. Social enterprises can be for-profit, nonprofit, or blended ventures, working locally and internationally. The SIC is a bottom-up initiative in which the university’s Center for Peace and Commerce (CPC) acts as catalyst and mentor. We seek to harness students’ imagination for a better world and offer concrete tools and opportunities to help them turn their ideas into reality. With CPC support, students are responsible for developing or refining proposals for social enterprises that achieve positive results for the four Ps:People, Profit, Planet, and Peace.

Goals of the SIC

  • To invest in students with the potential to make positive, sustainable social impact
  • To promote problem-solving through the development of sustainable ventures
  • To support enterprise development for the quadruple bottom-line (people, planet, profit, and peace)


2013 SIC Verizon Green Award goes to Teresa Smith

The USD Social Innovation Challenge started in 2011 as a student initiative of the university’s Center for Peace and Commerce. Students from USD’s Graduate School of Business and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies submitted 16 projects in the first year. The competition was opened up to the entire USD campus in 2012 and 52 submissions from across all programs were entered. In 2013 the SIC grew to 114 projects and awarded over $42,500 of seed capital to five different student innovations. In 2014 the Social Innovation Challenge awarded $50,000 to USD students, and expanded to include an external "San Diego Track" open to students from Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego City College, San Diego State University, and the University of California, San Diego. The Moxie Prizes of $17,500 and Outerwall prize of $5,000 were awarded to students in the San Diego Track. In 2015 the Social Innovation Challenge awarded $41,000 to USD students, and expanded the "San Diego Track" to include students from all universities within the San Diego region. Students within the San Diego Track were awarded $35,000 in prizes money. The SIC has awarded $234,000 in cash prizes to students since its inception in 2011.