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The Innovation Mission: Fighting Poverty With Big Ideas

If we are to end poverty together, systems must change.

Do you have an idea that could change a system?

You may have thought, “What if we could just…” or “How difficult would it be to…”

You know there are answers, and change is possible, but time to think about your idea might be scarce, especially within your day-to-day work.

The Innovation Mission seeks individuals employed at values-driven organizations who recognize potential pathways to systems change, and need the time and space to explore ideas for solutions.

Through this 12-month fellowship, you can grow that potential pathway into a real-life solution, exploring iterations, partnerships and support systems that will become parts of your operational plan for action.

The enterprising fellowship seeks to:

  • Incubate unique solutions to problems faced by Cleveland residents living in poverty
  • Provide professionals from diverse sectors with the time and resources to explore their new ideas aligned with the mission and/or focus of their organization
  • Foster a community of thought leaders committed to addressing the complexity of poverty-related issues in creative ways
  • Cultivate tangible solutions and use different approaches to tackle diverse problems contributing to poverty

This fellowship is designed for the seasoned professional in any industry across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The Innovation Mission is a 12-month program that includes: orientation; eight full-day workshops through June 2021; ongoing small-group meetings with mentors and partners; and independent work to research, develop and launch your idea. Participants are required to obtain their employer’s support and input.

From the applicant pool, up to 10 rising fellows will be selected to participate in a series of summer workshops with the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Cleveland Leadership Center and innovation consultant Dennis Beatrice. These workshops will inform the development of a project plan, and all rising fellows will pitch their plans to a selection committee in the fall of 2020.

Four final fellows will be selected to receive funding for research and development, as well as seed funding, and will work on fully developing their ideas and projects for the remainder of the fellowship.

Fellows work independently but benefit from participation in a peer-learning environment with the other fellows and a support team hand-selected by the Cleveland Leadership Center and the foundation. Together, you will engage in professional development workshops with leaders in innovation and develop a cross-sector professional network to support your continued efforts.

Applications open February 3, 2020.

Fellowship Timeline

  • June 29, 2020: Rising Fellows notified
  • July 14, 2020: Orientation & mixer with rising fellows, employers and collaborators
  • July 15, 2020: Rising Fellows Workshop I
  • August 12, 2020: Rising Fellows Workshop II
  • September 15, 2020: Rising Fellows Workshop III
  • September 30, 2020: Rising Fellows Project Pitches
  • October 7, 2020: The Innovation Mission Fellows selected & notified

  • October 26, 2020: Fellows Workshop I
  • November 2020 – May 2021: Individual monthly meetings with fellow & mentor team
  • January 21, 2021: Fellows Workshop II
  • April 8, 2021: Fellows Workshop III
  • May 17, 2021: Fellows Workshop IV & Capstone practice
  • June 21-25, 2021: Capstone Presentations
  • June 30, 2021: Fellowship Closes


Contact Christine Mitton, director, knowledge & learning at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, at 216-357-4468 or