Full Ride Scholarship: Presidio Graduate School Big Idea Prize

The Big Idea Prize awards a full-ride scholarship to a Presidio degree program for the best "Big Idea" to move the needle in sustainability.

What’s your Big Idea?

Presidio Graduate School started as a Big Idea 10 years ago. The Big Idea Prize celebrates over a decade of turning Big Ideas into big impact.

We’re always on the lookout for people who think BIG. Having big thinkers in our classrooms enriches the learning experience for everyone at Presidio, and ultimately, increases our impact.

That’s why the Big Idea Prize awards a full-ride scholarship to a Presidio degree program for the best “Big Idea” to move the needle in sustainability.

Additionally, each Big Idea Prize winner will also receive one of Presidio’s two Echoing Green Fellowship nominations, allowing them to bypass the first round and enter the competition as a semi-finalist in the world’s premier social entrepreneurship fellowship program. Echoing Green provides more than $2 million in seed support each year to world class leaders looking to bring about positive social change. From thousands of applicants, about one percent are ultimately selected to receive up to $90,000 over two years to support the launch of their organizations.

If you have a big sustainability idea ready for prime time, then Presidio wants to invest in you. The bolder the better. It can be a business model, or a government initiative, or some other category we haven’t thought of. It can be traditional economy, shared economy, new economy, or no economy. Just show us what in the world you will make happen to change the world, and give us an idea about how it will work.

Presidio faculty, staff, alumni, Experiential Learning partners and other friends of Presidio are encouraged to nominate outstanding colleagues for the Big Idea Prize.

We won’t award a Big Idea Prize every semester, and usually we’ll do so just once a year, but we can’t give you a full ride to our school unless you ask for it. Apply today!

How to Enter:

1. Send an email to admissions@presidioedu.org telling us why we should award you a Big Idea Prize. There are no limits to the size or format of your submission, but bigger is not always better. It just has to communicate your big idea effectively enough for us to evaluate it (e.g., a 15 slide Powerpoint deck, a website, or a 6-9 minute video would each be in the ballpark). Make sure the subject line has “Big Idea Prize” in it; and

2. Tweet your big idea to @PresidioGrad.

Special consideration will be given to entrants whose ideas relate to one of Presidio’s focus areas:

  • Cleantech and Renewable Energy
  • Impact Investing
  • Sustainable Food and Agriculture
  • Sustainable Leadership
  • Sustainable Urban Development

But we don’t want to put ourselves in a box, so neither should you.

How to Nominate:

If you would like to nominate someone for the Big Idea Prize:

1. Send an email to admissions@presidioedu.org with the name and email address of the person you are nominating. Include “Big Idea Prize Nomination” in the email subject line. We will send your nominee an email to them notifying them that they have been nominated for the Big Idea Prize. You should of course feel free to let them know them as well!

2. Send a tweet to @PresidioGrad letting us know who you have nominated for the Big Idea Prize.”


Spring admission: December 1 at 5:00pm PST (winner announced Dec. 15)
Fall admission: May 15 at 5:00pm PST(winner announced June 15)


We’re a school, so we like rubrics. And we want you to know what you’re aiming for. But don’t be put off by these criteria. We’re well aware that sometimes the best ideas are the craziest, the least reasonable. You never know, these criteria just might be the thing you need to crystallize that idea you’ve had in the back of your head.

That said, we’ll be on the lookout for:

  • Clarity of the Big Idea, including:

• an operational strategy (what are you going to do?)

• a resource strategy (what do you need to do it?)

• anticipated outcomes (what are you going to make happen?)

  • Personal passion, courage, and leadership skills to make it a reality
  • Scale and specificity of potential economic, environmental, and/or social impact (will you move the needle?)
  • Feasibility, sustainability, and likely speed to execution
  • Independence from other forces, actors, or contingencies
  • Originality
  • Potential that Presidio training will enhance the likelihood of success

Eligibility & Other Details

Entrants must be an applicant to one of Presidio’s degree programs or a current student. Applications can be submitted concurrently with or soon after the Big Idea Prize submission.

For degree program students, “free ride” applies prospectively only.

Winners will not be required to develop their Big Idea during their academic work in a Presidio program — but that’s kind of the idea. Winners will, however, need to meet all usual academic requirements expected of our students.

Presidio intends to award at least one Big Idea Prize per calendar year, but the award need not be given in any calendar year, depending on the quality of submissions.

Submissions will be judged by a panel of Presidio alumni and professors.

“Full ride” means tuition and student fees but not books or any other expenses.

– See more at: http://www.presidioedu.org/admissions/financial-aid/big-idea-prize#sthash.fMJNyv8K.dpuf

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