Changemaker Fellows Inaugurated by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

September 14, 2015


Senator Whitehouse & Janet Raymond with the Changemaker Fellows. View the Facebook album.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Founders League are thrilled to launch our Changemaker Fellowship and introduce our Changemaker Fellows. The Fellows were celebrated Monday evening at a ceremony co-hosted by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse before an audience of over 100 university leaders, entrepreneurs, students, recent graduates, and community leaders.

Each Changemaker Fellow was congratulated by Senator Whitehouse, bestowed a complimentary Chamber membership by Janet Raymond, Senior Vice President at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and presented with the Providence P by a representative of Providence Mayor Elorza’s Office.

The Changemaker Fellowship Program is a joint initiative between Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Founders League, and is made possible by a $200,000 Innovation Grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. The purpose of this initiative is to better integrate students and recent graduates into Rhode Island’s startup ecosystem, open entrepreneurship opportunities to new populations, and strengthen the flow of talent that drives startup success.

“Investing in the talented leaders of tomorrow is essential for our state to stay competitive in the global economy,” said Whitehouse. “The Changemaker Fellowship will help talented student entrepreneurs start and grow businesses here in Rhode Island, and I congratulate those who have been selected to participate.”

An inspiring and talented group of students was selected for the first cohort of Changemaker Fellows due to their demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship and leadership experience. The Changemaker Fellows will work over the upcoming school year to support entrepreneurship among students and recent graduates and unite Rhode Island’s diverse student bodies.

“The launch of the Changemaker Fellowship is an enormous win for Rhode Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Social Enterprise Greenhouse University Initiative Director Cayla Mackey. “This is the first time that students have been brought together from across the state for the sole purpose of encouraging social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Rhode Island. As the base of the talent funnel, students are instrumental in improving Rhode Island’s economy, and we together believe that one of the best ways to do that is through entrepreneurship.”

As members of these diverse communities, Changemaker Fellows help Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Founders League work effectively across campus boundaries. The Fellows serve as conduits to share information, connect their peers to local resources for entrepreneurs in Rhode Island, and provide vital insight into entrepreneurial activity happening on their campuses.

“Campuses are dynamic places, where student interests and behaviors change quickly. Even if located only a few miles apart, our college and university campuses all have different channels for engaging students and recent grads in startup activity,” says Founders League Director Melissa Withers. “The Changemaker Fellows helps us understand this complexity and creates an on-the-ground connection to the people we want to serve. Bonus: the Fellows are all incredible leaders and it is inspiring to work alongside them.”

Each year, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation makes a series of Innovation Grants to organizations that spread the ideals of entrepreneurship and benefit local communities. Working in partnership, Founders League and Social Enterprise Greenhouse were one of only 20 awardees selected from a pool of 500+ applications. Activities supported by the grant seek to help more students launch ventures, find internships, and seek post-graduation job placement at local startups. This is the first time Blackstone Charitable Foundation has provided funding to support entrepreneurship in Rhode Island.

“We are proud to support entrepreneurship in Rhode Island by providing funding to these two outstanding organizations through our Innovation Grants program,” says Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. “Through our work with the Blackstone LaunchPad program, we recognize that engaging and supporting students is key to the success of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. By engaging local universities and colleges, we strongly believe the Changemaker Fellowship will drive economic development and business creation in Rhode Island.”

As compensation for their service, Changemaker Fellows receive one-on-one mentorship support, recognition as a student leader, and a cash stipend. Learn more about the Changemaker Fellows and the Changemaker Fellowship.

Press contact:
Kelly Ramirez
Social Enterprise Greenhouse

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant
Blackstone Innovation Grants, a flagship program of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, supports entrepreneurial organizations that spread the ideals of entrepreneurship and benefit local communities through targeted, year-long grants. Each year, the Foundation makes a series of targeted grants to non-profit organizations that support entrepreneurship and benefit regional ecosystems.

Cayla Mackey
University Initiative Director

As the Social Enterprise Greenhouse University Initiative Director, Cayla helps college and university students get involved in social enterprise. The University Initiative is a program funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant to retain students and recent graduates in Rhode Island through enabling them to work on and in social enterprises. Learn more about Cayla here or email