New Haven Civic Innovation Prize

Please visit this page frequently for up-to-date information regarding workshops and other resources for applicants to the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize. 


Please email Johnny Scafidi, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement.

The New Haven Civic Innovation Prize awards up to $10,000 to the best student- or community-led venture or project focused on benefiting the City of New Haven.

The New Haven Civic Innovation Prize was created in 2019 and is managed by the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale and Dwight Hall at Yale.

The prize aims to catalyze student- and community-led innovations that address, and are informed by, community priorities. Community members, students, or teams of students and community members who are working on projects in key areas of community development, particularly related to the health and economic crises causes by the COVID-19 pandemic, are welcome to apply.

The competition provides participants with constructive feedback from experienced professionals, mentorship from relevant experts, and chances to meet social entrepreneurs and civic leaders. The judges will award a total of $10,000 in prizes and may elect to allocate the prize amount to a single winner, or between two teams.

Criteria for Applicants:

  • Opportunity: The problem the venture/organization/idea seeks to address is clearly defined, and there is evidence that there is a target population who considers it important.
  • Viability: The team has developed a clear solution to the problem, has a realistic path for getting the solution to the end user, and can continue to deliver the solution in a way that is financially and operationally sustainable. In short, the idea seems like it could work.
  • Innovation: The idea is truly innovative. It presents a new model, product or service that fills a unique gap and/or applies an existing model to a new context.
  • Team: The team has the knowledge, skills, passion, energy and ability to execute.
  • Catalytic-ness: The prize will be meaningful in driving the team/project forward in ways that may otherwise not have been possible as quickly or at all.
  • Impact: The project addresses key areas of community development, particularly related to the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • February 1, 2021: Optional mentorship request form opens
  • February 21, 2021: Optional mentorship request form closes (mentors are assigned on a rolling basis)
  • February 22, 2021: Startup Yale application opens
  • March 21, 2021: Startup Yale application deadline
  • April 11, 2021 (approximately): Finalists selected
  • April 29, April 30 or May 1, 2021: Finalists participate in a live pitch event as part of Startup Yale.

Startup Yale

The 2021 New Haven Civic Innovation Prize is part of Startup Yale, a collaboration between the Yale Center for Business and the EnvironmentInnovateHealth Yale, Dwight Hall, and the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale. On April 29 - May 1, this event will virtually bring together Yale’s entrepreneurs in three days packed with pitches, prizes, and world-changing ideas. Over $125k of prizes will be awarded to the finalists, including:

Past Recipients

The inaugural New Haven Civic Innovation Prize was awarded to Havenly Treats and DreamKit in 2020.