Applications now open for $10,000 Impact Prize Competition at SU Libraries

Impact Prize teams

Applications are now open for the Impact Prize, Syracuse University’s student impact competition for social entrepreneurship.  Applications are due November 1 for the $10,000 prize competition to be held November 14 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Bird Library.  The Impact Prize is open to Syracuse University students and SUNY ESF undergraduate and graduate students taking entrepreneurship courses at SU, and who working on ventures that create a social impact.  Examples include solutions that address energy, environment, employment, education and training, health and mental health, community and social networks, social inclusion, poverty and literacy, youth empowerment, food, sustainability, access, and ventures that support important public policy goals.

The Impact Prize is coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University, and supported through a generous gifts to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran and Todd B. Rubin ’04, Minister of Evolution and President of The Republic of Tea.  The event is a highlight of “The Republic of Innovation” celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week at SU.

An Impact Prize workshop on November 4, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Blackstone LaunchPad will help inspire students to think about framing solutions that are feasible and implementable.

Impact Prize applications can be products, services or technologies that are practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to societal problems anywhere around the globe. Proposals should cut across sectors and disciplines, be grounded in the principles of social entrepreneurship, and address human needs, whether as non-profit or for-profit entities.

An initial judging round, led by campus faculty and staff with expertise in civic engagement or social entrepreneurship, will select the final teams to pitch.

The Impact Prize is funded through a gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela M. von Dran, who is director emerita of the iSchool’s MSLIS program, and who has a special interest in social entrepreneurship.  As a member of the iSchool faculty, she taught organization management courses at the graduate level as well as the iSchool’s first-year gateway course. Before joining the iSchool, Dr. von Dran served as an assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management.  She is the wife of Raymond von Dran, who was dean of the iSchool from 1995 until his death in 2007. Von Dran was a longtime academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. Shortly after his death in 2007, Gisela von Dran established the Raymond F. von Dran Fund, to support the RvD initiative, which funds the iPrize.

The Impact Prize is also funded through a gift from Todd B. Rubin to SU Libraries, who is a graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, and actively engaged with SU’s Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars.  Rubin started his career as a junior designer in the New York City office of Gensler, the global architecture and design firm, where he focused primarily on retail design. He then joined the Republic of Tea, a family-owned and operated company based in the San Francisco bay area of California.  He has utilized his background in architecture throughout the Republic of Tea brand by overseeing the design of the company’s shipping center in Nashville, Ill., as well as its headquarters.  He has also been responsible for new business development, sales systems and new product development.  Rubin also created and funded The Rubin Family Innovation Mentors program at the LaunchPad, generously funded through his family foundation.  A number of previous Impact Prize winners now serve as peer mentors through The Rubin Family Innovation Mentors program.

The Impact Prize competition serves as a gateway to the annual iPrize competition, as well as global competitions such as the Hult Prize.  The competition, coordinated by the LaunchPad at Bird Library, is managed by Emma Rothman ’21, Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar at the LaunchPad.

For more information, or to make an appointment to discuss your idea, e-mail:  or visit the Blackstone LaunchPad in Bird Library (Suite 120), meet a coach, and become a member.

Photo: Last year’s Impact Prize teams, MedUX and Prioritage, which were also first place Invent@SU winners