Tamer Fund for Social Ventures

The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures provides seed grants to nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid early-stage Columbia University-affiliated social and environmental ventures. There are two deadlines for applications for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures: the fall application deadline is August 15 at 11:59 p.m. ET, and the spring application deadline is March 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET.  Funding will be made available to around seven ventures each year (three to four ventures each cycle).

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Email [email protected].

Criteria for Selection

The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures provides seed grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid early-stage social and environmental ventures. Social or environmental ventures are defined as those working to solve a social or environmental problem. In general, social and environmental for-profit ventures produce products and/or services that either focus on addressing the needs of low-income communities or customers with an explicit purpose of increasing the welfare of these groups, alleviate a market failure and create significant public goods or benefits that are not wholly captured in the price charged by the business, or have attracted funding for the business by investors or grant makers who are seeking measurable social or environmental impacts.

Ventures must be led by Columbia University students, alumni, faculty or researchers, or be advised and have significant involvement by Columbia University faculty or researchers. There is no time limit after graduation for alumni to apply. The entire team need not be Columbia University affiliated; one founding member or significantly involved faculty or research advisor is sufficient. Please note that the venture’s only Columbia affiliation may not be someone from the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. If the venture has a Tamer Center affiliation, the venture must also have an additional Columbia University affiliation in order to be eligible for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. The University is committed to support all members of the Columbia community, including those formerly incarcerated, who are encouraged to apply to the fund. Learn more about related programs such as the ReEntry Acceleration Program (REAP) at Columbia Business School here.

To be eligible for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, ventures must not have closed their seed funding round at the time of application. Current students may not enroll in the Investing in Social Ventures course in the same semester in which they apply to the Fund for their venture. Preference will be given to ventures that have the potential to be financially self-sustaining in the longer term. This preference includes nonprofits that can be sustained by generating revenues via fee-for-service models, for example.

Typically, ventures can only apply once for funding from the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. We strongly recommend current students take advantage of the courses offered at Columbia before applying to the Fund (see the Other Resources for Social Venture Teams tab for more information on courses available). We encourage you to apply when your application can clearly address the following questions:

  1. What is the intended social impact of the venture? How socially innovative is it? What is the potential to scale the venture? What metrics will be used to measure its success?
  2. What is the business model and how likely is it to succeed? (e.g.: Social Impact Business Model Canvas is a potential framework that can be used by applicants); and
  3. Has the venture already attracted needed resources, including a quality management team, advisors, customer/client or stakeholder connections, and other sources of funding?

Ventures will be evaluated using the following rubric, where each criteria is weighted equally:

Watch the video below to learn more about what to consider before applying to the fund:

Read more about the process for selection for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures.

Process for Selection

There are two deadlines for applications for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures: the fall application deadline is August 15, and the spring application deadline is March 1. Please click here to begin the application process. We suggest using your LinkedIn profile to create your login. Applicants selected for screening will be contacted shortly after these deadlines.

Investment Board Members

Mindy Aviles-Kelly
Stuart Ellman
Arrun Kapoor
Julius Mokrauer
Shaiza Rizavi ’96
S. Mona Sinha ’93
Sandra Tamer
Tony Tamer
Bruce Usher (chair)

The Tamer Fund for Social Ventures process is rigorous, and will require some of your time. However, this process should be useful to you as you prepare to talk with future funders:

  1. All applications go through an initial screening process by the Tamer Center, and ventures are notified by email whether or not they are invited to participate in the next round.
  2. Selected ventures are matched with Columbia University student due diligence teams that are working for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. Their job is to present an impartial view of each venture. Each selected venture is required to pitch their idea to the Investing in Social Ventures course and work with their assigned due diligence team, which assesses the venture over the course of six weeks. Please note that student teams should not be asked by client organizations to sign confidentiality agreements.
  3. A limited number of ventures that participate in the due diligence round are recommended to present to the Investment Board for grant consideration. We anticipate ventures will be selected by the Investment Board around mid-fall and late-spring each year.

We encourage international ventures to apply. Ideally, social venture management teams will be able to meet in person in New York City during the due diligence process and with the Investment Board. However, we will work with each venture throughout the process if an in person meeting is not possible.

To learn what else is available to ventures, read about other resources available for social venture teams through the Tamer Center.

Other Resources for Social Venture Teams

Incubator Programs and Maker Spaces
Social Venture teams that receive funding from the Fund and desire space in the Columbia Startup Lab in SoHo, Manhattan may receive seats for up to 12 months, depending on the number of social entrepreneurs who wish to be based there (priority will be given to more recently supported ventures). The cost of these seats is partially subsidized, and a copay will be required from social venture teams. In addition, the center can assist social venture teams that receive funding and wish to be located at other incubators across the US and around the world.

The Columbia MakerSpace (CMS) is a Columbia University affiliated and student-run workshop on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus. They provide a wide variety of tools free of charge for Columbia University affiliated entrepreneurs (current students, alumni, faculty, researchers, and staff) to use and space in which they can a work, share ideas, and collaborate. Tools include: 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, wood and metal working tools, screen printing materials, electronics, hand tools, jewelry tools, and sewing and embroidery tools, among others. For access, entrepreneurs must first attend a safety training, which takes about 15 minutes. More information about schedule, tools, and activities can be found on their website, and they can be contacted at [email protected].

The Columbia Design Studio teaches students, alumni, and faculty customer-centric methodologies for developing innovative and practical solutions to ill-defined problems. These methodologies, called “human-centered design,” give entrepreneurs an agile approach to gaining critical customer insights and integrating them into their products, services, and businesses. The Design Studio is located in Room 430 of the Riverside Church (490 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10027). If you have any questions about finding the Studio, please contact [email protected].

The GSAPP Incubator is a launch pad for new ideas and projects about architecture, culture, and the city. Drawing on Columbia GSAPP guest lecturers, discourse, and studio culture, the Incubator hosts and encourages a wide range of ventures initiated by recent Columbia GSAPP graduates. More information can be found here, and questions can be sent to Agustin Schang at [email protected].

Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ Columbia is a cross-University incubator program that nurtures and leverages ideas and technologies within Columbia University that have the potential to generate returns in the form of new products or services, processes, licensing revenues, and strategic alliances. Faculty members, staff members, and students from across the University are invited to compete for admission to IE @ Columbia, and participation is free of charge. Preference is given to well-balanced teams of three to five people with a compelling idea for a high-potential venture.

Almaworks is Columbia University's startup incubator for student entrepreneurs. Almaworks takes no equity and aims to help early-stage startups run by NYC student entrepreneurs achieve significant, sustainable growth. Over the course of the 8-week program, teams will participate in workshops, attend office hours with mentors, hear from speakers and alumni, and connect with the extended CORE (Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs) and Almaworks community. Questions can be sent to [email protected].

The Res.Inc. program at Columbia University is a platform for undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship to build and launch companies. Each year, a group of 12 students is competitively selected to form teams and pursue the launch of a new business with the support of Columbia faculty and industry professionals. More information can be found here, including the link to apply.

Based in the heart of Manhattan’s Silicon Alley, MetaProp hosts three incubator programs focused on real estate technology: the 22-week MetaProp Accelerator @ Columbia University, the 20-week international MetaProp Bridge @ Columbia University, and the 8-week MetaProp Pre-Accelerator @ Columbia University. Each year, up to 25 of the best technology driven real estate industry ideas are selected to participate in intensive education, mentorship, and growth hacking programs, culminating in exclusive graduation defense panels, roadshows, and demo days for partners, investors, VCs, and the media. More information can be found here, and questions can be directed to [email protected].

NYCEDC and the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment are developing the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lab (VR/AR Lab), which will be a hub for virtual reality and augmented reality in New York City. The hub will leverage the leadership of NYC Media Lab and its founding university partners (Columbia University and NYU Tandon School of Engineering) to manage and operate the space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Lab will support new ventures by providing workspace, equipment, infrastructure, and early stage capital to startups, and connect them to a community of mentors and investors through key program partners. They will also foster the creation of new companies through entrepreneurial programming and resources. Questions can be directed to [email protected].

The Entrepreneurial Greenhouse Program at the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center helps second year Columbia Business School students prepare their businesses for investment by providing support and guidance throughout the semester in a master class format. The program provides funding for pre-launch expenses, access to experts in key fields, and opportunities to present business concepts to professional investors.”

The Columbia Entrepreneurship Blockchain Studio facilitates learning, exploration, and experimentation in the Columbia blockchain community. If you are a Columbia student or alumnus and would like to join the community, email [email protected] for more information.

New Lab in Brooklyn, created to support New York City-based startups in a variety of advanced tech disciplines, provides scalable ventures with tools to work, collaborate, prototype, and grow their businesses. New Lab’s prototyping labs feature advanced manufacturing tools, including selective laser sintering and fused deposition modeling for 3D printing, as well as standard workshop amenities to support development in robotics, A.I., energy, nanotechnology, and more.
Social Venture Advisory Network
The Social Venture Advisory Network forms a vital part of the ecosystem for social entrepreneurs. The center screens and refers social venture teams to this network of professionals, experts, and alumni drawn from all schools across Columbia University. These referrals may also be to other organizations with which the center partners in the social enterprise, impact investing, and advisory fields.
If you are interested in joining the network as an advisor, click here to apply online.
Legal Services
The center can connect social ventures with pro bono legal resources, such as Columbia Law School’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic. The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic represents entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and community groups that need pro bono transactional legal counsel related to starting or operating their businesses. The clinic’s free services are offered to clients in New York that are committed to strengthening communities through job creation, producing and preserving affordable housing, or providing innovative and valuable goods and services for their communities. Interested ventures should contact Lynnise Pantin.

Another resource available to social ventures is membership application form.

Social ventures may also be connected with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Pro Bono ClearinghouseNYLPI helps social ventures and nonprofit organizations around the world with their legal needs by matching them with the skills of attorneys at New York’s most prestigious law firms and corporate law departments. These pro bono relationships ensure that organizations receive crucial, high–quality legal assistance for free. The Pro Bono Clearinghouse assists with a wide range of legal issues including social enterprise formation, incorporation and tax exempt status, employment advice, intellectual property matters, and more.

Lawyers Alliance for New York is a leading provider of pro bono business and transactional legal services for nonprofit organizations and social enterprises improving the quality of life in New York City neighborhoods. They use a co-counseling model, meaning each case is handled both by an attorney at Lawyers Alliance and a member of its network of more than 1,800 volunteer attorneys, each with requisite specialized experience in the substantive issues specific to the client’s case. Using this model, Lawyers Alliance provides pro bono assistance on a wide range of legal services including corporate structuring and formation, corporate finance, intellectual property development licensing and management, human resources, tax, regulatory compliance, and more.

Columbia Entrepreneurship also hosts regularly scheduled sessions at both at the Columbia Startup Lab and on Columbia’s campus for legitimate student startup teams to address their legal questions through the Columbia Entrepreneurship Startup Law Studio. All sessions are conducted on a pro-bono basis. The sessions are observed by Columbia Law School students who seek to gain venture-law experience by observing the office hours.
Pro Bono Consulting
The center can refer ventures to various groups providing pro bono consulting services. Pangea Advisors is the pro bono consulting arm of the Social Enterprise Club at Columbia Business School. Each semester, Pangea matches teams of students with clients spanning industries and the globe. The team, supported by a faculty or professional mentor, completes a consulting assignment to advise clients on innovative and impactful practices. Pangea projects generally include one week with the venture on-site at an international location.

Columbia Impact Investing Initiative (CI3) organizes semester-long consulting projects with social entrepreneurs, with projects ranging from refining business development plans and identifying potential investors, to improving pitch books and advising on fundraising efforts with impact investing funds in developed and developing countries.

180 Degrees Consulting aims to strengthen the ability of international and domestic nonprofits, social enterprises, and socially-minded companies to achieve high-impact social outcomes through the development of innovative, practical, and sustainable solutions. Past projects have included fundraising, marketing and social media, market research, and impact measurement, among many others.

The Small Business Consulting Program provides strategy consulting services to nonprofits and businesses in the New York area through eight-week long projects each semester.

Ventures (B2C ventures preferred) may be connected with pro bono marketing research conducted by a group of MBA students enrolled in the Marketing Research and Analytics class, overseen by Professor Kamel Jedidi. Sample problems that research can help ventures address include: Who is aware of my company? How do I develop/modify my product? How do I price it? Where do I sell it? Whom do I sell it to? How many can I sell? How do I promote it? With whom do I compete? How do I convince someone to invest in my business?

Ventures may also apply to take part in Operations Consulting, conducted by Master’s degree students at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and overseen by Professor Soulaymane Kachani. Ventures are matched with a team of eight students, who conduct a consulting project from October through May each school-year. The student teams focus on identifying, modeling, and testing (and sometimes implementing) operational improvements and innovations with high potential to enhance the profitability and/or achieve sustainable competitive advantage for their ventures. Interested ventures should contact contact the career placement director Mindi Levinson at [email protected] over the summer (before August 10th).

Barnard/Columbia Design for America (DFA) is part of a national network of passionate young thinkers and activists revolutionizing the way college students engage with and improve the world around them. DFA partners with local social impact organizations in NYC and matches them with a team of undergraduate consultants who work to address a problem related to their organization or the community they serve over the course of the academic year. These consultants use human-centered design thinking to focus on users, crafting the most impactful solution possible for the community.

Ventures may also be interested in participating as a client in the Three Cairns Climate Fellowship. This fellowship supports Columbia Business School students who complete semester- or year-long projects at the intersection of climate change and business with any type of organization or business in the U.S. or abroad that is addressing sustainability and climate change issues. Projects may be either semester or academic year-long, and should focus on using markets and business knowledge, skills, and tools to identify and implement solutions to mitigate, adapt to, or reverse climate change and its impacts. More information, including the link to submit your proposed project, can be found online. Any questions should be directed to [email protected]

SIPA Capstone Workshops match small consulting teams of MIA and MPA degree students with substantive, policy- oriented projects with external clients. Clients include nonprofits, for profit companies, and public agencies. Student teams, working under the supervision of a faculty expert, answer a carefully defined problem posed by the client. Each team produces an actionable report and an oral briefing of their findings at the close of the workshop that is designed to translate into real change on the ground. The majority of projects take place in the spring semester, and the deadline to submit project applications is usually mid-summer. For more information, please contact Suzanne Hollmann at [email protected]

Each semester, students in Columbia’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program undertake consulting projects for nonprofit and government organizations, on a pro bono basis, as part of the Integrative Capstone Workshop course. A faculty advisor oversees and guides each project team. The projects offer students the opportunity to integrate the program’s areas of study: management, economics and quantitative analysis, sustainability, and public policy. The program accepts project proposals until August for the fall semester, December for the spring semester, and April for the summer semester. For more information, please contact Samantha Ostrowski at [email protected].

Net Impact: SUMA Chapter is the Master of Science in Sustainability Management Program’s Net Impact Chapter at Columbia University. Each semester, Net Impact: SUMA Chapter runs pro bono consulting projects related to the topic of sustainability. The objective is for students to gain experience working in the field of sustainability, helping them become more effective agents of positive environmental and social change, while also benefiting the community.

The Taproot Foundation connects social change organizations to skilled volunteers through pro bono service in the areas of marketing, strategy, HR, and IT. From one-on-one consultations to team-based long-term projects, they offer both in-person and virtual engagements. Taproot also supports the building and strengthening of pro bono providers worldwide through the Global Pro Bono Network, whose mission it is to make business talent available for free to social change organizations around the globe.

The Nonprofit Board Leadership Program matches Columbia MBA students with alumni who serve on the boards of nonprofits. Together, they agree on a project for the student to complete during the course of the academic year. The project bolsters the alumnus board member’s understanding of an issue important to the nonprofit and provides the student with a meaningful experience that draws on his or her course work at the School. For more information, please contact Gwen Shufro at [email protected]
Entrepreneurship Office Hours and Executives in Residence
Get feedback on your venture or entrepreneurial career goals, delve deeper into your entrepreneurial plans, and learn about Lang Center and University resources around entrepreneurship. Lang Center Office Hours are open to both current students and alumni from across Columbia University. Office hour practitioners and online appointment booking can be found on the Lang Center’s website. Office hours are available on a first-come first-served basis.

Columbia Technology Ventures’ Executive in Residence (XIR) Program aims to connect Columbia inventors and technologies with seasoned industry executives, venture capitalists, and serial entrepreneurs. By doing so, they hope to leverage the deep domain expertise of these individuals to help accelerate the path of these promising technologies towards market success. Interested Columbia students, faculty, and researchers should email [email protected].

The Entrepreneurial Sounding Board Program offered by SEAS Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for Columbia students to schedule one-on-one advisory meetings with industry experts to discuss their own entrepreneurial ideas and challenges. This program allows students to connect with recent alumni for entrepreneurial advice, support, and guidance.

Columbia Business School students can schedule one-on-one counseling sessions with the school’s Executives in Residence. These executives are appointed by the dean to renewable one-year terms, and are accessible to students year-round. These meetings, which take place at a student’s initiative, are approximately 30 minutes in length and remain confidential. The list of executives can be found here. To learn more about the program or to schedule an appointment with an executive in residence, please contact Amy Jones at [email protected] or 212-854-6100.
The Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship program has been expanded to enable social ventures to attract and hire Columbia University student talent over the summer for internships. This fellowship program enables students to contribute to building and growing existing social ventures, while gaining valuable entrepreneurial work experience. The center aims to award social venture summer fellowships to a diverse range of Columbia undergraduate and graduate students from different Schools and degree programs across campus, with preference also given to ventures that have a Columbia connection.

The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center’s Summer Fellowship Program also enables Columbia Business School students to contribute management expertise to growing startup organizations through internships. Employers are expected to invest time and resources into structuring and managing the activities of the summer fellow. At the end of the summer, each employer will be asked to provide feedback about the Summer Fellowship Program and the student’s impact on the organization through a brief online survey. Company qualification criteria can be found here.

Flexhire is a global community of top pre-screened technology talent available for hire. Flexhire simplifies and accelerates the process of hiring and managing top technology team members for their clients, which have ranged from Fortune 500 companies to famous venture-backed startups. Flexhire in particular has experience helping to rapidly scale up early stage distributed teams. Flexhire is offering a 10% hiring discount to Columbia-affiliated social and environmental ventures, who will be granted this promotion by contacting the team at Flexhire at [email protected].
Events and Workshops
Hacking for Humanity at Columbia University harnesses the diverse talent and resources of the campus community and beyond to solve pressing global challenges affecting people and the planet. For three days, students, alumni, and researchers from across the campus form interdisciplinary teams to design and develop innovative solutions to urgent problems, refine their ideas with advice from experienced mentors, and pitch their startups to expert judges. These venture teams develop valuable entrepreneurial experience, build professional relationships inside and outside the university, and compete to win both awards and prizes to further develop their ventures. Columbia students can also connect their venture team members with the Social Venture Incubator course at Columbia Business School, to learn how to advance and launch effective social ventures. Register on our website.

Spark Workshops provide social innovators with the opportunity to explore resources, connections, and potential solutions to help their social and environmental ventures. Spark is a platform for ventures to make valuable connections, as the audience is a self-selected group interested in the topic area. Ventures are also able to gather diverse ideas through group brainstorming to help them address specific questions or problems within their business or organization.

The Tamer Center organizes several events each year designed for the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures portfolio. These events aim to provide ventures with access to experts and the opportunity to share insights and common challenges with other venture teams. They are hosted on Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus for ventures able to attend in person, and also have a webinar link for those ventures not located in New York City. Past topics have included managing and protecting social benefit while raising investments with Lawyers Alliance for New York, impact measurement with B Lab, and how to structure an effective hiring process with Rogovin Consulting, among others.

Kicking off each academic year, the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, in partnership with student clubs across the campus, hosts Columbia University’s annual Social Enterprise Conference: Capital for Good in an effort to bring together industry leaders, professionals, academics, students, and alumni to share best practices and engender new ideas surrounding the intersection of business and society.

The annual StartupColumbia Festival is a two-day celebration of Columbia’s culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Day one is the culmination of the Columbia Venture Competition where startups compete for $200,000 in cash and awards, and day two is the StartupColumbia Conference filled with inspiring speakers and provocative discussions.

The center also organizes various events including speaker panels, advising roundtables, and other meetings and workshops designed to connect experienced advisors with Columbia-affiliated social entrepreneurs.
Accelerators and Other Sources of Funding
The Tamer Center may provide for-profit portfolio ventures with an introduction to social impact investors within its network, such as Acumen. Acumen invests patient capital in early-stage enterprises tackling the problems of poverty, and supports their portfolio of companies with the analytical tools, strategic guidance and networks needed to sustainably achieve scale.

The center can also connect social ventures with Contrary Capital, a university-focused venture capital fund seeking to empower and invest in the brightest young minds through capital, accelerator programs, connections, and support. They invest $50-200k in the top pre-seed startups founded by current students or recent graduates around the nation, as they believe that the next generation’s most successful companies will emerge from universities.

Alumni Ventures Group offers smart, simple venture investing with 12 diversified funds. One such fund is 116 Street Ventures, which is only open to Columbia University alumni accredited investors and seeks to invest in Columbia affiliated ventures. They co-invest alongside strong lead investors, do not take board seats or price rounds, and provide strategic introductions and support. Check sizes range from $100K – $2M. Alumni Ventures Group also has supplemental funds open to all accredited investors including their AVG Basecamp Fund focused on seed and pre-seed investments, as well as different Focused Funds, focusing on areas such as anti-bias, emerging markets, and blockchain). 

The annual Columbia Venture Competition (CVC) is composed of four distinct challenges: the #StartupColumbia Challenge, the Technology Challenge (sponsored by Columbia Engineering), the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge (sponsored by the School of International and Public Affairs), and the Columbia Undergraduate Challenge (sponsored by Columbia College). Each challenge splits $50,000 among the top three winners. The first three challenges are open to students and recent alumni (five years or less from their most current Columbia degree) from any Columbia-affiliated school, including Barnard and Teachers College. The Undergraduate Challenge, sponsored by Columbia College, is open to all current Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, General Studies, and Barnard College undergraduates.

Fast Pitch is Columbia Engineering's annual elevator pitch competition where teams have 60 seconds to sell their business ideas to a panel of judges. The Fast Pitch competition helps teams improve marketing, sales, and promotional capabilities. Teams are judged on their appeal, conciseness, and completeness. Attendance and participation is free and open to all Columbia students, and there is a $5,000 prize pool. 

The Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund fosters an entrepreneurial environment at Columbia Business School by providing early-stage investing opportunities to qualifying student business initiatives. The Lang Fund Selection Process offers graduating Columbia Business School students serious about launching a business upon or shortly after graduation the opportunity to present their plan to a panel of judges who together help select which students will advance to present to the Lang Fund Board of Directors. Approximately five companies will be selected from the event to present to the Lang Fund Board for investment consideration.

The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center also offers the Summer Startup Track geared toward rising second year Columbia Business School students who are dedicated to advancing their ventures during the summer between their first and second year of school. The program offers tailored advisory support, a network of peers, and programming with industry leaders, culminating in the opportunity to pitch for a $10,000 grant.

The Columbia Alumni Virtual Accelerator (CAVA) is an industry-agnostic, no-fee and no equity virtual accelerator supported by the Eugene M. Lang Entrepreneurship Center. CAVA’s mission is to enhance and enable early-stage CBS alumni startups across the globe through support and mentorship. 

cFUND Ignition Grants are financial grants to assist Columbia University students in launching new businesses, social, and nonprofit ventures. cFUND Ignition Grants support the initial stages of early venture development from formation, IP protection, and incubation to building prototypes and creating proofs of concept. There are varying levels of Ignition Grants: Formation ($5K) and Incubation ($10K). Judges will decide the level of funding for teams based on their applications. More information, including the application, can be found here.

The Data Science Institute’s Seeds Funds Program promotes “Data for Good”: using data to address societal challenges and bringing humanistic perspectives as—not after—new science and technology is invented. The Institute accepts proposals from Columbia University faculty and research staff. Funding is available for up to five projects, up to $100,000 annually, for a maximum of two years. Questions can be sent to [email protected].

The Columbia Entrepreneurship Undergraduate Innovation Grant aims to incentivize and support the creation of novel products and unique business models. The grants are open to current students from across the undergraduate Columbia University student body, with at least one founder being an undergraduate Columbia College or General Studies student. Prize grants of $5,000 to $15,000 are awarded to teams with the most innovative product or business model. 

The Columbia Biomedical Technology Accelerator (formerly the Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership) aims to catalyze the advancement of biomedical technologies by providing funding, education, resources and mentorship to teams of clinicians, engineers, and scientists working to develop solutions to clinical unmet needs, with the ultimate goal of bringing innovative research out of the lab to benefit society. Project support is expected to serve as a bridge to commercial investment, with awards granted to perform specific tasks needed to validate a commercial hypothesis. More information, including eligibility and application process, can be found here

The Columbia Lab-to-Market (L2M) Accelerator Network is a cross-discipline support system providing tactical and strategic guidance to the Columbia-affiliated accelerators in life sciences, clean energy, media, blockchain, and cybersecurity.

PowerBridgeNY commercializes university-based technology into scalable, cleantech solutions that will power the future. With $10M in funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), PowerBridgeNY’s mission is to turn cleantech innovations from academic research labs into strong, cleantech businesses in New York State. The PowerBridgeNY accelerator is for scientists and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate the commercialization of their cleantech. The accelerator helps technologists to determine product-market fit, de-risk their technologies by building early prototypes, and to validate their technology through customer and industry interactions. This is done by offering teams up to $150K to conduct 100 Customer Discovery interviews and develop a prototype or conduct in-field testing to move the technology closer to commercialization via a startup (preferable) or license.

The Translational Therapeutics (TRx) Resource is an accelerator program designed to leverage Columbia’s proficiency in drug discovery and provide access to Entrepreneurs and the pharmaceutical industry to advance novel therapeutics from the lab towards the path of commercialization and clinical implementation. The TRx Resource Pilot Award provides up to $75,000 for therapeutic drug development. For questions, please contact [email protected]

Other lists of accelerators and potential funding can be found through 37 AngelsGANF6SAngel ListAngel Capital Association, and Seed-DB.

X4Impact is a free market intelligence platform for social innovation, organized by the UN SDGs. You can find listed grants, post your innovative solution to connect with other interested funders and collaborators, and you can publish articles to the largest collection of tech for public interest solutions on the web. To get involved, simply head to https://x4i.org.
Marketing Services
Creative Content specializes in producing engaging videos, photography and other custom digital content for websites and social media. The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise can refer social ventures interested in pro bono work to Creative Content.

The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise can also refer ventures to the Athena Digital Design Agency (ADDA) located at Barnard College of Columbia University. ADDA teaches students how to build and update simple, beautiful websites for small businesses while supporting the next generation of female technologists. Their services range from building entire websites from scratch to updating and improving existing websites, and are available for a small fee.

Columbia Creative is Columbia University’s in-house design studio for all marketing collateral. They operate on a fee-for-service model. Their projects range from websites, magazines, and annual reports to media strategy, marketing, advertising, and brand management. For more information, contact [email protected]edu.

Columbia University’s Justice Through Code (JTC) partners with software development agency Emergent Works (formerly Code Cooperative) to provide job opportunities for our graduates as they work alongside seasoned software engineers. For web development needs, reach out to [email protected] and let them know that you were referred by Justice Though Code and the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise.
Before applying to the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, it is strongly recommended that Columbia University students take both Launching Social Ventures and Social Venture Incubator, taught by adjunct professor Joy Fairbanks each spring. Students from across campus are encouraged (and alumni may be able to audit the course), but should check with their home school's Academic Affairs office on available seats and the process for enrolling in courses across Columbia University. Many weaknesses in applications that the Fund has seen in the past would have been addressed with a better understanding of social venture models and the individualized venture coaching that takes place in these courses. Taking these courses before applying to the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures will help you maximize your chances of submitting a successful application. Other relevant Columbia Business School courses can be discovered through the Lang Center’s Entrepreneurship Course Planning Tool.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ Columbia is also recommended, and is open (by competitive application) to teams of Columbia students from across campus, faculty, and staff members.

In addition, undergraduate students should take Venturing to Change the World, taught by Professor Damon Phillips and Amol Sarva, before applying to the Fund.

Columbia Entrepreneurship also lists over 100 classes across schools on campus that are related to innovation and entrepreneurship and are great places to learn, meet creative problem-solvers, and gain access to mentorship.

Current Columbia students may also use their UNI to freely access online courses from Lynda.com. This platform provides video-based tutorials and resources on a wide variety of subjects. For example, Drew Boyd has several videos on the topics of marketing, branding, and consumer behavior. Additional tutorials include: Nonprofit FundamentalsEntrepreneurshipEntrepreneurship FundamentalsGetting Started as an EntrepreneurRaising Startup CapitalBootstrappingSocial Media Marketing for Small Business, and website design and other software skills, among many other topics.
Other Columbia Resources for Startups
Amazon.com Web Services (AWS) and SEAS Entrepreneurship have partnered to provide students, staff, and faculty interested in starting web-based business ventures free tools to do so. AWS provides web services, commonly known as cloud computing, which are on-demand IT resources. Cloud computing helps many startups launch without investing in costly infrastructure, and it is the backbone of many of today’s most popular sites including Netflix and Pinterest. The Activate program offers benefits to new Columbia startups, and those that have not raised more than $1.5 million in funding. More information can be found here, including the link to apply.

The Columbia Commercialization & Entrepreneurial Resources database is a collaborative effort by Columbia Entrepreneurship, SEAS Entrepreneurship, CTV, and others across the university to create a road map of the entrepreneurial and technology commercialization ecosystem on campus. This is a university-wide resource geared toward providing a comprehensive and searchable list of all entrepreneurially-related activity at Columbia.

Programs and resources offered by the following may be relevant to some ventures: the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship CenterColumbia Entrepreneurship, Columbia Technology Ventures, the Columbia University – Harlem Small Business Development Center, the Data Science Institute, the School of International and Public Affairs, and Columbia Engineering Entrepreneurship.

Columbia Angel Network is a a nonprofit group of Columbia University alumni investing in early-stage ventures.

Other centers and programs across the university may also be of interest, depending on the social enterprise field(s) or sector(s) relevant to your venture.
The Startup Ecosystem Canvas seeks to provide local entrepreneurs with a clear list of resources for every stage of their startup journey, and outline a basic framework for communities to map their ecosystem. A link to the New York Startup Ecosystem Canvas can be found here.

Read more about the venture portfolio to see which ventures have received funding from the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures.


AdvanceH2O develops next-generation monitoring and data informatics for water treatment, from the smallest individual systems to the largest utility-scale plants.

Alina Vision is establishing an international network of eye-care hospitals addressing the leading causes of preventable blindness by providing affordable, high-quality, sight-saving surgery and comprehensive eye care to low-income communities.

Article22 jewelry celebrates stories of transformation and makes real impact. Weapons transformed into symbols of love, each piece is made from Vietnam War shrapnel and scrap and helps clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs contaminating Laos.

Borobabi is a circular economy retail marketplace for renting stylish, ethical, and sustainable children's clothing that maximizes profit alongside social and environmental impact.

Brava is the easiest way to support Black-owned businesses. Subscribers receive digital gift cards to local Black-owned restaurants each month.

change:WATER Labs develops disruptive technologies to expand access to safe, dignified sanitation and low-cost water treatment to poor and vulnerable communities.

Cero Cooperative offers commercial composting to the Boston metro area in a unique business model as a cooperative to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills and provide good green jobs where every employee is a worker-owner.

ClearRoad leverages existing vehicle data and GPS for better managed public roads, reducing congestion, road wear-and-tear, and emissions affecting climate change.


DeansList organizes holistic student data so schools can address the real issues affecting student success.

Dechets a l'Or collects and processes solid waste in cities of West Africa into products such as fertilizer, recyclable material, and energy.

Dollaride enables people in transit deserts to access public transit through a local network of dollar van drivers.

Eat Offbeat delivers authentic ethnic meals that are conceived, prepared and delivered by refugees in New York City.

Farm Fare equips family farms with data to unlock institutional markets, creating economies of collaboration.

Flextrapower (formerly Bonbouton) is a remote monitoring company powered by graphene technology, a material with unique properties that creates groundbreaking biomedical applications.

Folia Materials manufactures the world’s first consumer goods water filter for the four billion who make less than $10 per day. Paper for pennies, water for billions.

The Harvest Fund provides an integrated agricultural service that links subsistence farmers to agricultural technologies and loan products specifically designed to drastically increase their yields and incomes.

Ilara Health brings accurate and affordable diagnostics to rural Africans through miniature, AI-powered diagnostic devices that are integrated via a proprietary technology platform and distributed directly to primary care doctors.

IRaise is creating solutions to addressing systemic barriers that prevent minority and at-risk youth in New York City from succeeding in life.

Kaoun enables underbanked individuals and businesses access to financial services through their first product called Flouci, which allows users to open bank accounts remotely and access instant transfer, payment, and credit services.

Kheyti provides low-cost agricultural technologies with end-to-end services to help small farmers increase yield and predictability of produce, giving them a seamless path out of poverty.

Kidogo improves access to high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education in East Africa's informal settlements.

Kinnos raises the standard of infectious disease decontamination to protect healthcare workers and patients.

Local Civics is an edtech platform (K-12) that enables students to build civic engagement and community leadership skills through gamified learning.

MicroTerra transforms wastewater into a sustainable protein source and clean water. Their objective is to empower farmers in Mexico to become part of a circular agro-industry.

Maine Harvest Credit Project is working to create a specialized credit union focused on the financing needs of Maine’s small farms and food producers as a model for other states and regions.

MEI Facil is the individual entrepreneur's partner for financial inclusion.

New Blue Project is dedicated to repairing the relationship between communities and law enforcement by providing police diversity recruitment, revised training, and leadership development.

New Neighbors Partnership welcomes refugee families by matching them with local families who can provide emotional, informational, and concrete support as they resettle.

OkaySo is a free app that connects young people to experts who provide personalized support and information on sexual health, identity, relationships, and more.

Options MD is a patient-facing platform that helps people with treatment-resistant illnesses finally find a treatment that work.

Plan A Health is a nonprofit providing mobile reproductive and sexual health clinics to underserved rural areas.

Plantd captures and converts atmospheric CO2 into low-cost, premium building materials made from fast-growing biomass.

Plentify builds sustainable, intelligent African cities one home at a time by providing reliable internet-connected energy, water, and waste services more affordably than the grid.


Praava Health is launching a network of urban wellness centers in Bangladesh offering primary care and full in-house diagnostic services.

Radiator Labs is changing how we heat our buildings. The first product, the “Cozy,” is a low-cost radiator cover that eliminates overheating waste while improving tenant comfort and connecting heating systems to the cloud.

Re-Nuble converts food waste into plant-based technologies to discover natural ways to make food more productive.

Root & Rebound works to create a world where people impacted by mass criminalization have full restoration of their rights so that they can move forward with hope, dignity, and opportunity.

Saving 9 focuses on empowering rural communities with basic first aid literacy and building systems that save lives in emergencies.

Sortile develops AI-driven solutions for the recycling of textile waste. Our solutions focus on sorting by fiber composition and textile waste management.

Strong Children Wellness is an innovative healthcare network expanding access to quality health and social services to empower children and families.

Supportiv delivers instantaneous peer support as mass-market accessible mental health care for the 80% of adults facing typical life challenges who don’t want or need a therapist.

Teratonix is developing a high efficiency radio frequency (RF) energy harvesting solution to generate electricity from ambient cellular/Wi-Fi signals for powering battery-free IoT sensors.

Thimble takes care of needle pain so you can take care of your family's health.

Think.iT trains the brightest minds from North Africa to become technology change-makers, and places them as distributed team members with leading engineering companies.

Tough Leaf facilitates a diverse and thriving environment where contractors can seamlessly meet and exceed their disabled-, minority-, and women-owned business goals on their construction projects.

Trek Medics builds emergency medical systems in countries that don't have them—911 where there is none.

Visit.org is a corporate social responsibility online marketplace for carefully curated social impact experiences all around the world offered by nonprofit and community-based organizations.

Xylem is a mobile platform that aims to revolutionize the world of mentoring by better connecting mentors and protégés, and by providing organizations with the insights they need to measure and track success of mentor pairings.

Young New Yorkers (YNY) provides arts based alternative-to-incarceration programs to teens in the adult criminal justice system with the long-term goal of transforming the criminal legal system.

Youth Design Center is a youth creative agency employing youth in design and technology apprenticeships to increase economic mobility through STEAM professions.

ZELP aims to tackle the climate crisis by developing technology that reduces the environmental impact of the livestock industry. ZELP's proprietary wearable device neutralizes livestock methane exhalations at the source, enabling the production of climate smart beef and dairy products.