USD Social Innovation Challenge Enters Fifth Year

The University of San Diego’s Center for Peace and Commerce, a collaboration of the School of Business Administration and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, has opened registration for the fifth annual Social Innovation Challenge.

Full-time undergraduate and graduate students from any accredited university or college in San Diego County are eligible to enter to win seed money for their social ventures. Complete eligibility details are available at

In the Social Innovation Challenge, students create transformative ideas to solve social, economic, environmental and other problems in the U.S. and around the world. Since its inception in 2010, the USD Social Innovation Challenge has awarded more than $150,000 to students with innovative ideas to change the world and make a positive impact on the 4Ps: people, planet, profit and peace.

Due in part to a generous grant from the Moxie Foundation, the University of San Diego’s Social Innovation Challenge will award a total of $75,000 as seed money to student-created social ventures. Up to $35,000 of this funding will be available to San Diego County university students from universities other than the University of San Diego who will be entered in the “San Diego Track.”

Peter Zahn, President of the Moxie Foundation emphasized, “It is imperative that we provide opportunities to fuel new business and entrepreneurial thinking to address poverty, pollution, women’s rights and other pressing global issues. We expect to see benefits flow to the student teams that enter, as well as underserved and most needy, both locally and globally.”

Stephen Conroy, Faculty Director of the Center for Peace and Commerce said, “This year’s Social Innovation Challenge is bigger and better than ever. We are excited about the opportunity to engage the entire San Diego university community in an unprecedented way, to promote social venture creation and pedagogical engagement in experiential learning opportunities. At the same time, we hope these ventures will make a significant impact both locally in San Diego and, indeed, around the globe.”

Past student projects have resulted in innovative solutions for homelessness in San Diego, educational tools for autism, concrete ways to reduce environmental waste, leadership development for deaf youth in Africa, programs serving refugees, applications to promote volunteerism abroad, and more. To learn more about SIC and past winners’ projects, go to

Last year, a generous grant from the Moxie Foundation opened the Social Innovation Challenge to students from the UC San Diego; San Diego State University; San Diego City College and Point Loma Nazarene University.

Through the sponsorship of the Moxie Foundation and Outerwall, $22,500 of prize money was awarded in 2014 for the “San Diego Track.” The funding went to three teams from SDSU whose ventures addressed issues of water scarcity, teen homelessness, and agricultural technology.

The $50,000 of “USD Track” funding was awarded to USD student projects, including Pacific Clean Tech which aims to consolidate waste and employ veterans; Memoria, which promotes secure reporting of violence in Mexico; Green Room which aims to close the achievement gap in STEM education, and GROWING—a program to empower refugees through local farming.

To learn more about the Social Innovation Challenge, go to or Students must apply by Feb. 16, 2015 and awards will be announced at a public ceremony at the University of San Diego on May 1, 2015. For more information about the competition contact Grace Michel at or (619)260-4857. 


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Jeryldine Tully
(619) 260-4786