Application Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in the New Challenge. Please read these guidelines carefully so that you understand the benefits, expectations, and requirements of the New Challenge Application process. You should also review the schedule of important dates and the Terms and Conditions for further detail on eligibility, uses of funds, and expectations of New Challenge winners.


There are two rounds to the New Challenge Application Process: Entry Round and Finalist Round.

Entry Round

In the Entry Round, applicants introduce themselves and their proposals to the judges, the New Challenge Team, and the larger New Challenge community. The Entry Round determines if a proposal meets the criteria to become a New Challenge Finalist.

All proposals will be entered in the New Challenge Community Vote.  The Community Vote is an opportunity for all applicants to showcase their projects to the larger New Challenge community. Each project will be featured on the New Challenge Facebook page, along with an image and one-sentence description. Each applicant is encouraged to spread the word about their project and invite people they know to “like” their image in support of the proposal. The project with the most “likes” on the New Challenge Facebook page will automatically advance to the Finalist Round of the competition.

Additionally, each project will be featured on an individual page of the New Challenge website. The webpage will include an image and description, both of which are submitted in the New Challenge Application. The New Challenge Team encourages applicants to use these individual pages as a dynamic platform to advance your idea and attract potential partnerships. These individual web pages will remain live after the duration of the New Challenge competition.

Judges will identify approximately twenty Finalists from the pool of Entry Round applications to advance to the Finalist Round. One Finalist will be chosen through the New Challenge Community Vote.

Finalist Round

Those advancing to the Finalist Round must complete the Finalist Supplemental Application. All Finalists will participate in the New Challenge Finalist Pitch and Interview Day.

The Finalist Supplemental Application requires each applicant  to upload a resume for each team member, letters of support from external partners (as appropriate), and a reference.

During the Finalist Pitch and Interview Day, each project will be given a maximum of 5 minutes to present their proposal. Finalists will also be interviewed by judges either before or after the pitch presentation.

Winners are required to attend a Social Innovation Speakers Series and Public Celebration and a New Winners’ Circle Workshop before the end of the school year. Additionally, New Challenge Winners will be required to attend a final budget meeting before signing a New Challenge Funding Contract.


The application process is designed to identify proposals that do the following:

– Clearly defines a pressing, persistent social or environmental challenge
– Uses an innovative approach to address this challenge
– Has strong potential to create a deep, positive social impact
– When appropriate, engages in partnerships and collaborations to amplify this impact
– Articulates a feasible, actionable, and realistic implementation plan
– Demonstrates the leadership and commitment of the individuals involved


The New Challenge is more than a prize.  Winners are required to participate in New Challenge workshops to help them implement their projects the following year. In addition to funding ranging from $2,500 – $10,000, winners are eligible for non-financial resources and support. For example, winners participate in a peer network that convenes periodically to support each other and have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a mentor. The New Challenge team also provides support to winners.


Make sure you are eligible to apply by reviewing the Terms and Conditions.

Start early. Look at the application questions early in the semester so that you have time to develop your approach and identify potential partners.

Have your application proofread by someone else. The judges reviewing your application may come from very different fields, so make sure your proposal is jargon-free and clear to the reader. A visit to The New School Writing Center can be helpful and is free to New School Students. You can reserve an appointment at the New School Writing Center through Starfish on your MyNewSchool portal.

We encourage you to attend the New Challenge Information Session. This event will provide an opportunity to learn about New Challenge and mingle with other students who are interested in participating.


Award recipients will have 12 months from when they sign the New Challenge Funding Contract to utilize funds. Funds must be used in accordance with The New School’s guidelines. Funds may not be re-granted to organizational partners, unless expressly permitted by The New School. The leader of the proposed project must be a New School student. For full information on eligible expenses, please see the Funding section of the Terms and Conditions.

With approval from the New Challenge team, extensions can be requested after the first 12 months, as warranted.


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