Innovation Award

The Innovation Award is Ashoka U’s top honor for premiere programs in social innovation education. It recognizes high impact and highly replicable education innovations, including pioneering teaching models, co-curricular programming, community partnerships, and research. Since 2011, Ashoka U has honored Awardees during the Exchange.

The 2018 Innovation Awardees will be recognized during the 2018 Exchange in Boston on April 5-7, 2018.  Awardees will be featured on a special section of to showcase their innovation and partnership opportunities.

Evaluation Criteria

Innovation Award submissions must include an offering that advances social innovation mindsets and skillsets within higher education or display mechanisms for influencing the university culture to better embody social innovation.

The Innovation Awardees are selected each year based on the following criteria:

  • Innovation:  The model demonstrates creativity, a deep understanding of the levers and barriers in higher education, and offers a new approach or opportunity related to social innovation education.
  • Maturity: There is evidence of refinement and iteration of the model over time, proving that the innovation is at a stage of maturity to effectively share lessons learned and contribute to the field. It is clear that the idea is no longer in the early ideation phase.
  • Replication:  The innovation may be adapted without losing quality. Replication may be across different universities, disciplines, or with partner organizations.

Application Process & Timeline

The Innovation Award has a multi-round application process where submissions will be evaluated by the Ashoka U team as well as a panel of judges from the social innovation education community.

Please note: Ashoka U will only select semi-finalists based on the  “Best Practice Presentation” applications.

  • August 15 – October 2: Round One The first round of applications will be collected exclusively through the Exchange “Best Practice Presentation” application.
  • November 1: Semi-Finalist Notified Ashoka U will notify selected semi-finalists via email and send the Round Two application.
  • November 1- November 30: Round Two The second round of applications will only be available to semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be asked to submit a combination of written answers and video.
  • Mid-January 2018: Winners Notified Winners will be notified in mid January.
  • April 5-7, 2018: Ashoka U Exchange Awardees will be asked to share their innovation at the 2018 Exchange.

Cordes Hall of Fame

The Ashoka U – Cordes Innovation Award program was founded in 2011 and featured at the first Ashoka U Exchange at Duke University. To date, Ashoka U and the Cordes Foundation have recognized 35 outstanding curricular, co-curricular, research and applied learning innovation in higher education.

Now, Ashoka U wants to answer the question: How have these award-winning models scaled and impacted the field of social innovation education?

In 2015, Ashoka U and the Cordes Foundation created the Cordes Innovation Award Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes top Innovation Awardees that have significantly impacted the way colleges and universities embed social innovation into the core fabric of higher education.