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

Meet The Mentor

Naamal De Silva
The mentor for these projects, Naamal De Silva, will help you to shape your ideas, find community partners or advisors, and guide you towards relevant funding opportunities. She has a background in education, international conservation, and community engagement, as well as an interest in social entrepreneurship. She recently completed a doctorate in education at George Washington University. Naamal is the founder of Mayla, which aims to use storytelling to engage a diversity of people in protecting and connecting to the environment. She is part of the executive committee of the DC Environmental Education Consortium. Earlier, she worked for Conservation International for nine years to protect threatened species and wild places. Naamal was born in Sri Lanka and moved to DC when she was six. You can find her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can book meetings with her below or email her at [email protected].
Upcoming Events and Deadlines
February 5th, 2019 - 6pm
District House B206
March 22nd, 2019
March 5th, 2019 - 6pm
District House B206
March 18th, 2019
April 9th, 2019 - 6pm
District House B206
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 5th, 2018
  • November 9th, 2018
  • February 8th, 2019
  • March 18th, 2019


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 will post the application for CGI U 2019 in early Spring 2019.

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. Applications are due Friday, March 22nd, 2019. 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