GWupstart is GW's central hub for social innovation training, mentoring and funding. It builds on GW’s strength as an institution that fosters the next generation of citizen leaders. Approximately $45,000 in funding is available every year. In addition, we provide mentorship and support to students to turn their ideas into practical action that makes a measurable, sustained difference.

The Nashman Center defines social innovation as creative approaches to addressing social problems. All projects supported by GWupstart strive to be ethical, creative, systematic, sustainable and created in partnership with community organizations and the residents who will be affected by the project.




The deadlines to apply for the 2021-22 academic year for the Public Service Grant Commission are:

Deadline 1: February 18, 2022
Deadline 2: March 22, 2022


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Frequently Asked Questions

GWupstart offers various programs for students to engage in community service. As such, it provides a wide range of opportunities to further community engagement and service. Each program gets awarded a specific amount depending on the program, and students can apply to other grants and fellowships at the same time.  


The Clinton Global Initiative University - Commitment Maker Challenge 

Eco-Equity Challenge                             

Projects for Peace 

Public Service Grant Commission 

Applying for any program takes time, energy, and organization. Before you begin your application, draft a planning calendar with specific steps to start your application process making it more manageable to execute.  


  • During your application drafting process, think about who your audience is and the community you will engage. Think about the issue you are trying to address and do research to learn more about resources already available and how your project fits the community/organization needs.   

  • About a month before submitting your application, schedule an appointment with a GWupstart mentor. 

  • Also, request feedback on your drafts from faculty, peers, and community partner (if possible). Consider their comments and revise accordingly. Get as many reviews as possible so you can anticipate the questions and critique of the commission, address these as you write subsequent drafts.  

Applicants must submit the following information through GW Serves: 


Please note that Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) grant will have their own application, but the GWupstart can still support you in the application process.

To see current deadlines please visit A timeline of when deadlines usually take place for each grant can be found below.  


Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment Maker Challenge 

Usually in mid-October of every year 

Eco-Equity Challenge

February 7 

Projects for Peace 

First Round Deadline is mid-November of every year (Open to Undergraduates Only)

Public Service Grant Commission 

There are four deadlines every year. One in mid-September, end of October, early February and early April 

Yes, all students need a community partner and need to submit a letter of support from the community partner.  

  • Community-engagement focuses on the needs of communities to develop projects fitting community input.  

  • Before submitting your proposal work alongside community partners to define relevant research questions and if your proposed research or project fits their needs.  

  • Community entities are important to build deep connections in order to make a significant change in your community.  

Examples of helpful information you might to send to your community partner organization: 

  • Request a meeting with the community partner to find out more about their needs and the needs of the community. 

  • Share a summary of the project the grant will fund and ask them for any suggestions or modifications. 

  • Explain why partnering with their organization is important to you. 

  • Explain how the project intersects with the goals and mission of the partner organization. 

The budget worksheet needs to have as much detail as possible and include a justification for each expense. For example, personal costs and expenses for the project must be separated.

We encourage all applicants to submit as much information as possible. We understand that every application is unique and focused on specific issues or communities.  


  • Know your audience, it is crucial to know the intended audience. 

  • Know your purpose.  

  • Include the community in all aspects of the project. Ask them questions about their issue or visit town hall meetings to have an idea of what their problems look like.  

  • Create a concise timeline.  

  • Provide details in the application. It is essential to provide as many details as possible because the reviewers will have many questions if your project is not clear.  

Yes, students are encouraged to apply again for the next grant deadline.

Unfortunately, after the deadline has passed, students will not be able to submit their application. Only students applying for the Public Service Grant Commission may apply multiple times during the calendar year.

Any GW enrolled student is eligible to apply for grants and both undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply and participate in GWupstart programs. 

Yes, all applicants will be encouraged to schedule a meeting with a GWupstart representative to discuss their application.  

Grant recipients agree to:  

  • Provide a brief written report of their project with photos/videos of what they accomplished 

  • Participate in presentations to showcase the work they are doing alongside the community 

  • Have a monthly check-in meeting with a GWupstart representative 

  • Participate in a Changemaker Workshop Series to gain knowledge and skills to execute your project effectively