Organization:Starting Bloc

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For over seven years, StartingBloc has helped social innovators address the most pressing global challenges of our time by giving them the education, inspiration and connections they need to create lasting change. Our signature leadership development program, the StartingBloc Fellowship exposes young leaders to new models for achieving social impact. 

The Fellowship begins with the transformative five-day Institute for Social Innovation. The Institute is a boot-camp in social innovation. The curriculum is designed to include all the basic skills required for social change agents. 

Following the Institute, our Fellows become part of the larger StartingBloc community which currently consists of 1,500 Fellows representing 221 colleges and over 53 countries.


StartingBloc exists to educate, connect and inspire emerging leaders to drive social innovation across sectors. StartingBloc focuses on activating individuals, while simultaneously teaching a community approach to lasting change. Fellows aim to eradicate poverty, end world hunger and reverse climate change.

StartingBloc is a nonprofit that educates and places high-achieving, change-oriented college students and young professionals. Since 2005, StartingBloc has helped global leaders by giving them the skills and the tools they need to addresss the most pressing global challenges of our time.

The idea is to position young people to drive social, economic and environmental innovations. StartingBloc Fellows are young leaders who share a common set of values. They believe that economic value creation and social value creation are complementary. Fellows believe in making money while providing value to society. These students are from over 221 universities across more than 55 countries. The Fellowship is comprised of people from different sectors, geographies and cultural backgrounds. The experiences of each Fellow contribute to the diverse modes of thinking brought forward in the StartingBloc Fellowship community.

StartingBloc's vision is a global ecosystem in which the world's greatest challenges are resolved by the collaborative work of a community of leaders from all sectors, in order to drive innovative ideas into actions to create lasting, positive social impact.

 This YouTube video provides a description of StartingBloc's mentality. 

Distinct Differences From Other Offerings

StartingBloc aids students in becoming innovative problem solvers. Fellows learn to create sustainable solutions by identifying problems, learning quickly to guage context, create market-based, sustainable solutions and implement these solutions. Fellows learn to build relationships using communication, empathy and authenticity. StartingBloc thrives on the principle that collaboration is fundamental to solving the world's greatest problems. Fellows should also have all the skills and resources to complete their goals. Businesses and relationships are built through social responsibility.


StartingBloc has various local and regional chapters across the world. These chapters are found in Bangalore, Beijing, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Delhi, London, Mumbai, New York, North Carolina, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Graduate schools.JPG

BuildingBloc Workshops

BuildingBloc Workshops provide StartingBloc Fellows and friends with the critical continuing education needed to advance their careers in social innovation. BuildingBloc Workships offer a deeper look into specific topics or skills related to social innovation. These workships are help in New York. Los Angeles, Boston and will soon be expanding to other regions. StartingBloc partners with corporations, individuals and organizations to implement these programs for our community. See below for a breakdown of the workshops.

Workshop Breakdown

While workshops may vary in specific content and speakers, the workshops consist of five days of immersive and community based themes which seek to educate on what StartingBloc sets out to do. Participants are exposed to speakers, other members, and new ideas that they can bring with them in future pursuits. Often, networking is a large component and participants often discuss the emotional, academic, and professional rewards of participation. There is an atmosphere of collaboration, leadership, and intra-team connections.

Day 1: Off the Bloc

  • The first day marks the initiation of the workshop, and is filled with networking events, icebreakers, and many speakers. Participants get to know leaders as well as fellow participants. There is an emphasis on getting to know people, as teamwork is a notable theme of StartingBloc.
  • There is a speaker who places an emphasis on community through talking about their past projects or organizations. This gives participants the opportunity to see an idea through implementation, another key component of StartingBloc.
  • There is a workshop delivered by the Transformative Action Institute, which teaches members how to integrate transformative action, deep connections, and creativity into their passions in order to build a sturdy foundation for impact.

Day 2: Owning Your Vision

  • The second day is focused on articulating the vision of an idea as well as storytelling, or conveying a specific point in a passionate and articulate manor.
  • In order to achieve this, the concept of polarity mapping is introduced, this is an important part to troubleshooting problems that may arise.
  • The day includes smaller activities that help you to manage all values and conflicts while working in a team.
  • Goals of these immersive activities include the ability of delivering a solid mission and vision statement.
    • To reinforce this idea, a speaker comes in and articulates their vision statement for a project that they have worked on. It enables participants to see the benefit of polarity mapping, storytelling, as well as the impact that a vision statement has on a community audience.

Day 3: Taking Action

  • The third day focuses on the importance of rapid prototyping, a concept employed to bring an idea to fruition. 
  • Partnerships with local organizations is introduced; in these "mock" partnerships, participants must troubleshoot problems and create solutions to community partnerships. 
    • Fellows are grouped together and given three hours to develop ten solutions and two prototypes to benefit their partnership.
  • This engagement allows participants to understand the process of rapid protyping as well as having the opporunity to engage with the beneficial method. Participants are expected to leave the third day with a solid understanding of the framework.

Day 4: Pass the Mic

  • The fourth day focuses on an intense conversation; one that emphasizes the importance of identity, equity, and inclusive workspaces. 
  • The goal is to have open discussion to establish the foundations of an inclusive community, and what benefits such a community can deliver.
    • Personal and political ideas are challeneged and raised, despite disagreements, participants are expected to learn about inclusive spaces and how the centrality of inclusivity and comfortable spaces serves projects that StartingBloc aims to launch.
    • Participants are expected to engage and share their viewpoints in a respectful way.

Day 5: The Road Ahead

  • The fifth day marks the conflusion of the conference, where all ideas come together.
  • The Transformative Action Institute is utilized to kick off events that engage the group and utilize knowlege that has been acquired over the prior days.
  • The program outlays how to stay involved with StartingBloc, as well as means in which participants can explicate their new knowledge in their local communities.
  • The final day serves as a "graduation"-- participants walk away with connections in myriad ways and are galvanized to make community change.

All Fellows' Summit

The All Fellows' Summit is the ideal place to further hone your business skills, make new connections and make a lasting impact. This summit reconnects Fellows across Institute classes, allows Fellows to find inspiration for future careers and provides opportunities for Fellows to get the resources to act upon future plans.

Graduate School

There are many Fellows in graduate school. StartingBloc can connect Fellows with other Fellows on campus. If a Fellow is applying for graduate school, another Fellow can be contacted and asked 3 questions, and a call can be dropped to them. 

Impact Achieved For Students and Campus


Alums of StartingBloc have achieved social, environmental and economic change across the country.

Mattias Sparrow, a fellow from 2004, now manages strategy and development for Gary Klinsky Children's Centers. These centers are after-school-program providers supporting 800 young students at five schools in Brooklyn, New York. 

Pyiya Khetarpal helped KLD Reaserch and Analytics in Boston launch an index of 100 companies investing in technology that address climate change.

Moses Choi, an assistant portfolio manager for Citigroup in New York, has been working to set up an internal corporate-social-responsibility club.

StartingBloc has relationships with graduate schools at MIT, Duke and Tufts, which reserve spots in their programs for fellows, and with companies and nonprofits that provide internships.

Steps Required To Bring Resource to Campus

StartingBloc hasan application process for undergraduate students and young entrepreneurs. Application deadlines vary; make sure to check the website (linked above) for the correct submission dates. Tuition for the Institute for Social Innovations is $1,000, with a $35 non-refundable application fee. A limited number of partial and full scholarships are available for accepted canidates based on merit and financial need. 

Here is the admission criteria for the fellowship program:

StartingBloc Potential: (25%) Demonstration that now is the right time for the applicant to attend the Institute. The applicant should gain new understanding from the Institute, contribute to the StartingBloc community and fit with the StartingBloc values.

Clarity of Purpose: (25%) Clarity of the applicant’s vision for creating impact, as evidenced in the application essays. Supporting evidence in the resume and background information that the candidate’s goals for the Fellowship are a balance between ambitious and realistic.

Leadership and Teamwork: (20%) Ability to communicate new ideas and influence others to adopt them. Leadership can take many forms, and successful candidates often lead groups that consist of their seniors as well as their peers.

Passion for Social Innovation: (20%) Enthusiasm for using social innovation as a tool for solving the world’s tough problems. Commitment to incorporating social innovation into personal or career goals.

Academics: (10%) Ability to learn quickly; breadth and depth of intellectual curiosity.

Diversity: StartingBloc values diversity of thought because combining unique perspectives often leads to innovation. The Fellowship is comprised of people from different sectors, geographies and cultural backgrounds. The experiences of each Fellow contribute to diverse modes of thought in the community as a whole. In your application, please show the admissions committee what makes you unique, and the diversity of thought that you bring to the Fellowship.

Finding Funding: 

Given the costs of attending Starting Bloc, the organization has setup a fundraising toolkit for aspiring participants. From the Starting Bloc website: “StartingBloc has partnered with CrowdRise to make it easier to fundraise your Institute costs”.

CrowdRise lets users create campaigns under the StartingBloc umbrella. These campaigns can be shared online with friends, family, and supporters. StartingBloc has compiled a list of recommendations for running a successful fundraising campaign. They can be found here.

Students Gains

  • People have spoken about their gains, how they were nervous, but wanted to participate because they thought it was valuable
  • “Starting bloc is a fellowship that takes people who are high-potential and makes them high impact” - Rodney ‘15 fellow
  • Heard stories of non-profit organizations, Peace Corps, Teach for America, etc.
  • They built business connections and were able to reach out to valuable mentors and learn from peers
  • Pitch an idea for social change
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Polarity Mapping
  • Works for LIFT now, new allies and can apply to any field…
  • LIFT helps families to gain resources and wants to ensure a brighter future for American families
  • Network, basically what Starting Bloc hopes to do
  • Funding for these families
  • Said that it was unlike anything else, has activities for ideas marketplace, 15-year reunion, ideas to action
  • Broke down personal barriers
  • Be vulnerable
  • Really a bonding experience about community growth together

Demographics of Startingbloc

Unlike UIF, Startingbloc is not specifically student-based. It is open to all and its demographics conveys a deeper sense of diversity in which professionals, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs come together as a tribe of like-minded and like doing people to share, create, learn and partner to create a better world. Fellows are seekers and explorers; they decide to take big risks and show responsibilities for their communities.

Because of its intergenerational culture, Startingbloc has successfully served participants ranging from 18 years of age to 70 with an average age of 29. Among them,  65% are people of color, 55% are female and 20% are international, who fly to America for the fellowship.

Startingbloc has impacted lives of many that among all the fellows, more than 100 have started ventures and 56 % of them identify as professionals in the non-profit, public and private sectors

Get the Program for Free

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Contact Information

Adriana Pentz

Or, contact:

Rithes Menon 
StartingBloc (NY '09)
Phone: (212) 285 - 2727 .

For more information, visit StartingBloc's website,