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The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is an award-winning initiative that provides access to a robust community of entrepreneurs at NYU who are committed to advancing gender equity in entrepreneurship, as well as extensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Upon their graduation, student/alumni Fellows are also invited to apply for student loan alleviation grants of up to $50,000.
Applications for the NYU Female Founders Fellowship open twice a year: once in the fall semester and again in the spring. The next Female Founders Fellowship application is due on April 24th at 6pm ET for the Fall '23 cohort.APPLY TO THE FELLOWSHIP
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The NYU Female Founders Fellowship is open to all NYU undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs, as well as NYU faculty and staff, who are actively working on a startup venture. Recent alumni entrepreneurs who have graduated within the last year (at the time of application) and who started their venture while studying at NYU are also welcome to apply.
We seek to build a diverse, inclusive cohort of fellows. We welcome applications from any student, faculty, or staff member regardless of gender, and including but not limited to those who identify as trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary, or genderqueer.
All applicants must personally demonstrate:
Applicant's Venture Considerations:
Students pursuing ventures in any sector may apply (social impact, healthcare, biotech, deep tech, consumer products, enterprise technology, etc.). Independent of sector, the program has a strong preference for entrepreneurs tackling meaningful problems, building novel/differentiated solutions, and for businesses capable of radically scaling (including non-profits).
Applications will be reviewed with the following questions in mind:
Loan Alleviation Grant Selection Criteria:
After participating in the Fellowship (and upon graduation), Fellows may apply for the Female Founders Fellowship’s Mark & Debra Leslie Student Loan Alleviation Grants, to help pay down their student loans. To be considered for grants, applicants must:
Those applicants who meet the above criteria may apply for grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 in grant funding, paid directly to the founder (not to the founder’s venture) for the express purpose of helping to alleviate their student loan debt.
Additional criteria will affect the amount of funding granted to each applicant including:
If funding is awarded, it will be given post-graduation in the form of a grant (with proof of graduation required to receive the funds). Grants are intended to go toward the repayment of the applicant’s student loan debt.
Female Founders Fellowship
The Fellowship is structured into cohorts, segmented by stage of venture development and how much time the founder is spending working on the venture (e.g. part time vs. full time). The "Circle" cohort is for ventures who are relatively earlier than the "Fellows" cohort with some key differences being:
Each member of the Circle and Fellowship will receive access to community, mentorship, training, and resources to support their venture and themselves, including:
Female Founders Community and Network Access: Fellows and Circle members will be invited to participate in monthly community events, and an annual full-day Female Founders Forum, alongside the broader NYU community.Fellows and Circle members will also be offered exclusive community building and networking opportunities, via:
Training: Fellows and Circle members will have access to comprehensive startup training, and will be invited to participate in the:
Coaching: Fellows and Circle members will have priority access to regular (monthly or more frequent) coaching sessions with members of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute Coaching Team and Founders in Residence.
Mentoring: Fellows (not Circle members) will be paired with seasoned entrepreneurial and investor mentors from the greater NYC and US startup communities. Further, fellows will have access to a network of 120+ external mentors and funders through the broader network of mentors at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute.
Invitation to apply for a Mark & Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellowship Grant: The NYU Female Founders Fellowship aims to enable more founders to pursue their ventures after graduation by removing some of the financial burden of student loan debt. NYU Female Founders Fellows (not Circle members) are invited to apply for Loan Alleviation Grants as they prepare to graduate. Grants will be awarded to 3-15 Fellows per year and the awards will range from $5K to $50K per fellow. Fellows who receive this financial award will become Mark and Debra Leslie Female Founders Fellows, to honor the generosity of the donors whose gift makes these grants possible.
We’re pleased to introduce the NYU Female Founders Fellows!
When do you accept applicants to the Fellowship?
We hold two cycles of the Fellowship annually - one running in the Fall: September-January, and the other running in Spring: February-July. For the Fall cohort, please apply in the previous Spring (April/May). For the Spring cohort, applications are due in early December. Applications will be open in late October/Early November for the Winter/Spring '23 cohort.
Do I need to complete a Startup Bootcamp prior to applying for the Female Founders Fellowship?
Yes. Completing a Startup Bootcamp is a prerequisite for becoming a Female Founders Fellow. A majority of applicants complete the Startup Bootcamp prior to applying for the Female Founders Fellowship, though some do complete the Startup Bootcamp after their fellowship application is submitted. If scheduling is prohibitive, on rare occasions this prerequisite may be waived by the Fellowship program leads. To request that this prerequisite be waived, reach out to email@example.com.
I’m interested in becoming a Female Founders Fellow, but I don’t hold any student loans. Can I still apply?
Yes! All Female Founders Fellows receive the full benefits of mentorship and programmatic support. Only a subset of the Female Founders Fellows apply for the Student Loan Alleviation Grants each year.
I graduated over a year ago from NYU. Can I still apply for the fellowship and the student loan alleviation grant?
No. Only students who graduated from NYU less than a year prior to their application deadline, and who started their ventures while at NYU are eligible to apply for the Female Founders Fellowship.
I don’t have student loans for my NYU education, however I do have student loans from prior education. Am I eligible to apply for the loan alleviation grant?
Yes! If you have student loan debt (regardless of which educational institution you attended when you incurred the debt) and meet the other criteria for the program you are eligible to apply for the Student Loan Alleviation Grant.
I’m a student from an international NYU campus. Am I eligible to apply for the fellowship?
Are the Student Loan Alleviation Grants taxable?
The Student Loan Alleviation Grants may be taxable. Please consult with an accountant prior to filing your taxes to fully understand tax consequences.
How and when will the Grants be disbursed?
The Student Loan Alleviation Grants are paid directly to the founder (not to the founder’s venture). If funding is awarded, it will be given post-graduation in the form of a grant, after proof of graduation is submitted. Further details for the Student Loan Alleviation Grant disbursement are still being finalized and will be updated prior to disbursement.
How many student loan alleviation grants will be awarded each year?
Though the number is not finite, we anticipate awarding between 3-10 student loan alleviation grants to fellows each year.