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Chicago Ideas Week Now Accepting Applications for the 2016 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship

CHICAGO, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) announces its call for applications for the sixth annual Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellowship today. Created by philanthropists and entrepreneurs Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, the BHSI Fellowship recognizes social entrepreneurs, 35 years or younger, whose nonprofit and for-profit ventures tackle significant social issues through innovative business models. Each BHSI Fellow receives $10,000 in financial support toward his or her work, as well as exposure and connections to top business and civic leaders. All BHSI Fellows will participate in CIW, a weeklong ideas festival featuring world-class speakers and thinkers that takes place October 17–23, 2016.

"The BHSI Fellowship Program is dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to make meaningful progress in addressing social challenges," said Chicago Ideas Chief Executive Officer & Co-Director of the Fellowship, Jessica Malkin. "With more than $500,000 awarded to the Fellows through contributions and in-kind services, we are committed to strengthening the support network the next generation of change agents needs to expand their enterprises and their impact."

Past BHSI Fellows have been honored and recognized by Forbes' 30 Under 30, the Clinton Global Initiative and CNN Heroes, among other accolades. 2015 Fellows include founders of startup social enterprises that improve the lives of communities by creating innovative solutions in the fields of clean energy, civic engagement, public health and education.

As Fellows, these emerging leaders have had the opportunity to meet with influencers such as Founder & CEO of Khan Academy, Sal Khan; Dreamworks Chairwoman and Ariel Investments President, Mellody Hobson; Hyatt President & CEO, Mark Hoplamazian; Chairman & Co-CEO of United Therapeutics, Martine Rothblatt; Equity Group Chairman, Sam Zell; Every Mother Counts Founder, Christy Turlington Burns; Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman, Dan Gilbert and more.

"Creating social change takes synergy," Leslie Bluhm said. "It requires connection and collaboration among thought leaders, innovators and doers. That's why we created the BHSI Fellowship program: to provide young entrepreneurs a wide variety of resources, including the opportunity to spark action and impact by making key connections with recognized leaders from the business, government and the nonprofit sector."

The BHSI Fellowship

Each BHSI Fellow will:

  • Receive $10,000 in financial support toward his or her work.
  • Speak at Chicago Ideas Week. Fellows present at CIW, which annually brings more than 30,000 attendees together with leading innovators, entrepreneurs and intellectuals.
  • Participate in one-on-one strategic meetings. The BHSI Fellowship team works closely with each Fellow to develop a customized itinerary of meetings with potential funders, partners and mentors.
  • Join a dynamic community of 2016 BHSI Fellows, as well as inspiring Fellows from the program's five-year history.
  • Engage with big thinkers. Fellows will interact with prominent business and political leaders on multiple occasions.

To Apply:

  • Social entrepreneurs 35 years or younger (as of October 17, 2016) from anywhere in the world can apply for the Fellowship online at

About Chicago Ideas

Chicago Ideas is a year-round platform for turning ideas into actionable results. Featuring globally recognized speakers and interactive experiences, it is a space for innovators, thinkers, doers and interested citizens from across Chicago, the greater Midwest and the world. Its goal is to stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a Community of Curiosity. Chicago Ideas is a 501(c)(3) organization. Follow Chicago Ideas on Twitter @chicagoideas and on for updates.

About The Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship

Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand are committed to making a positive impact through philanthropy in the Midwest, as well as nationally. Leslie is the co-founder of Chicago Cares, the largest volunteer service organization in the Midwest. Chicago Cares creates group volunteer experiences that meet critical needs while unifying the community.  Leslie's ambition in creating the Fellowship was to support the next generation of socially-minded entrepreneurs.

David is the president and CEO of Equity Commonwealth, in addition to being co-president of Equity Group Investments, a Chicago-based private investment firm. David is a director of the Ann & Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, serves on the Executive Committee for the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and is a member of the Board of Visitors at the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. His core philanthropic interests are access to education and entrepreneurship.

Media Contact
Jessica Malkin
Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Ideas
Co-Director, Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship Program
312.545.8093 or


SOURCE Chicago Ideas