What is GWupstart?

GWupstart logo
GWupstart is GW's central hub for social innovation training, mentoring, and funding. Based in the Nashman Center, it builds on GW’s strength as an institution that fosters the next generation of citizen leaders. Approximately $50,000 in funding is available annually through our opportunities in addition to providing 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 the Nashman Center strive to be ethical, creative, systematic, sustainable and created in partnership with relevant community organizations and the residents who will be affected by the project. 

Meet The Mentor

Naamal De Silva
Naaml De Silva focuses on the environment: specifically through education, science, storytelling, equity, and policy. She recently completed a doctorate at GW's Graduate School of Education and Human Development, where she studied the role of place, partnerships, and policy in shaping environmental education in public and public charter schools in DC. Naamal has also worked at the university in several roles, including coordinating the GW Eco-Equity Challenge. She serves on the executive committee of the DC Environmental Education Consortium and is the founder of Mayla, which uses storytelling and partnerships to celebrate work in and for nature. In her previous work, she spent nine years at Conservation International helping people to identify the places and species in most urgent need of conservation. In addition to her doctorate, she has a master’s degree from the Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 
Upcoming Events
September 5th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 403
September 19th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 403
October 10th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 403
October 24th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 403
November 7th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 402-404
November 28th / 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Marvin Center Room 402-404
Grant Opportunities and Deadlines

Public Service Grant Commission (PSGC)

PSGC Promo


The Public Service Grant Commission encourages and cultivates student-led social innovation by providing institutional support to individuals and organizations to carry out innovative, feasible community service programs and ideas. 

Founded in 2009, the Public Service Grant Commission is the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement’s social innovation fund supporting GW students’ entrepreneurial passions for stimulating change and delivering solutions through student-led service projects and initiatives in partnership with Washington, DC area organizations. 


Public Service grants make it possible for GW students to harness their passions for changing the world through innovative student-led projects. Mini-grant awards provide financial backing to the ideas of GW students. They range from $500 – $2500 per individual or group project, per Deadline. The deadlines for the 2018-19 academic year are: 

  • October 5, 2018
  • November 9, 2018
  • February 8, 2019
  • March 8, 2019


If you are interested in receiving guidance on your project before or in the midst of the deadlines email us at [email protected]

Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Commitment Maker Challenge

CGI U Promo


The Clinton Global Initiative was founded in 2005 to bring together global leaders who make commitments to generating innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Every year, since 2007, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) brings together about 1,200 university students of all levels to discuss and deepen the Commitment to Action they make in the spheres of Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.


The Commitment Maker Challenge allows GW students to compete for funding to support their CGI U Commitments to Action. For those who have been accepted to CGI U, awards are available to supplement travel to the annual Clinton Global Initiative University gathering at University of Chicago October 19th-21st, 2018, and also to directly fund their CGI U Commitments to Action, which are new, specific, and measurable social entrepreneurial projects.

The Challenge provides funds to Commitment Makers, in the form of project implementation awards and travel and lodging awards for CGI U. The Commitment Maker Challenge encourages more widespread interest and involvement in social entrepreneurship. It enables a growing number of students to be supported in their work to engage in social entrepreneurial projects and begin making a positive impact in the communities they care most about. Most importantly, the Challenge helps turn students’ ideas into action, with training (workshops), mentorship (office hours), funding, and follow-up.

We are no longer accepting applications for the Fall 2018 CGI U conference. We will post the application for CGI U 2019 in early Spring 2019.

If you are interested in receiving funding for your commitment maker challenge project email us at [email protected]

Eco-Equity Challenge Grant Competition

Eco-Equity Challenge Grant


The Office of Sustainability and the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service provide a biennial opportunity to support GW students in their social entrepreneurial efforts to address environmental and social justice issues in Washington, D.C. With support from Challenge staff and in collaboration with a local partner organization, GW students are invited to propose a project that enhances the local community. The project must have both environmental AND social impact in an underserved or low-income neighborhood. 

Winning students or teams will be awarded between $500 and 5,000 for their projects. Students are required to work with a GW faculty or staff mentor as a resource and are not prohibited from receiving other funding for their projects


GW undergraduate and graduate students. Projects may be individual or team submissions; teams can include up to 5 students. Applicants must be enrolled for the next full academic year


A sample budget template and timeline template are available here.

GW Projects for Peace Grant

Projects for Peace


Projects for Peace invites undergraduates at US colleges and universities to design grassroots projects that promote peace and address the root causes of conflict. Applicants should use their creativity to address the root causes of conflict among parties with a focus on conflict prevention, resolution, and reconciliation. These projects must be implemented during the summer of 2018 and may take place anywhere in the world (pending GW approval).

Projects selected receive a $10,000 grant. You may submit as an individual or as a group of GW students. While the grant will provide $10,000, you may raise funding from other sources to advance the project.


This initiative is part of a $1 million endowment in honor of the late Kathryn W. Davis, an accomplished philanthropist, and advocate for peace. GW, now a part of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, is eligible to offer this funding for the first time this year. You must address each of the questions in this application and provide an additional one page budget on the template provided. The narrative part of the application should be no longer than two pages total using Book Antiqua 10pt font and with 1" Margins. Please keep this in mind when submitting your responses. 

The deadline to submit your application for the 2018-19 academic year is January 25th. All applications will be considered by a panel of GW reviewers.


For questions about info-session, grant opportunities, and the GWupstart program contact us at [email protected]

For questions about grant resources and mentorship, including guidance on which opportunities most suit your interest contact us at [email protected] with the subject line: "GWupstart Mentorship."


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