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Vanderbilt’s Wond’ry receives grant to bolster Social Innovations and launch Social Innovation Think Tank

Posted by on Thursday, January 17, 2019 in News.

The Wond’ry, Vanderbilt University’s innovation center, has been awarded a $30,000 grant from VentureWell for its flagship Social Innovations pillar program and its new Social Ventures Think Tank initiative. This is the second VentureWell Grant that the Wond’ry has received, the first award occurring in 2017 to support its PostLaunch pillar program.

The grant will help support the center’s launch of a Social Ventures Think Tank, a semester-long program designed to match student teams with local nonprofits to develop innovative technological solutions and further assist these organizations with maximizing positive societal impact.

“It is truly an honor to have received this prestigious award from VentureWell and we are very excited to use it to catalyze new and innovative social innovation programs,” stated Evans Family Executive Director of the Wond’ry, Robert Grajewski. “Moreover, being the first at Vanderbilt to ever receive a grant from VentureWell and to then now receive a second follow-up grant, truly shows both the impact the Wond’ry is having in driving innovation and the recognition we are generating as a national innovation thought leader.”

The Social Ventures Think Tank was born out of the realization that many local nonprofits desired to further increase their reach and impact through technology and new applications, but often lacked the technical expertise or budget to create programs, or apps on their own. The Wond’ry recognized that its students had this technical knowledge and expertise but often lacked the local connections or bandwidth to effectively identify and vet projects with local nonprofits in an efficient manner. Through the Social Ventures Think Tank, the Wond’ry will serve as the facilitator to ensure that these opportunities are not missed and maximum impact is achieved. The first key areas of focus will be around community revitalization and land use.

As one of the pre-eminent supporters of university innovation efforts, the nonprofit organization VentureWell provides grants each year to aid university efforts around innovation and entrepreneurship, funding or training as many as 4,500 innovators and entrepreneurs since its founding. The Lemelson Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are among VentureWell’s backers.

Starting in the spring semester, the Wond’ry will be identifying several non-profit organizations to partner with to launch the Social Ventures Think Tank. Interested parties can learn more by visiting