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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: GREEN

For Students

Four students looking at a laptop
We encourage students to explore all that the Conway Center has to offer. Through education and practice, you will cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset whereby you'll recognize otherwise overlooked opportunities, develop the confidence to take calculated risks, and learn from setbacks. Through engagement with student clubs, you'll discover more about yourself—your goals, the strengths you bring, and areas where you need to improve—while developing the skills needed to succeed in the world beyond Smith.


The center is home to several curricular courses: three interdepartmental courses designed to guide students through the process of ideation to value creation and ultimately to venture launch; and two financial education courses that introduce students to the structure and operation of U.S. and world corporations and financial institutions.

IDP 146 Critical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship takes on a diversity of meanings, forms and structures depending on its source and context. In this course, the topic of entrepreneurship is studied from a variety of critical and under- explored vantage points such as ethics, access, inclusion, culture, power, expression, agency, economic empowerment, cultural and social transformation. Entrepreneurship is counter-mapped from an inter-, intra- and multi-disciplinary lens from the liberal arts tradition and the course examines the commonalities that connect both. The potential of entrepreneurship to create sustained social transformations is critically examined alongside its unique identity within and outside of the realm of economic exchange.

IDP 155 Entrepreneurship I: Introduction to Innovation

In this course, students will begin a journey towards developing an entrepreneurial mindset gaining immediate experience with entrepreneurial innovation by generating bold solutions to problems. Students will be challenged to think about ventures that address a new and just world post COVID-19 using the 17 UNSDGs as a framework for their projects. Students will also analyze cases about real entrepreneurs and explore their challenges, obstacles and ethical decision making. This course is designed around individual and team-based assignments that culminate in final team presentations. Enrollment in IDP 116 is encouraged but not required. 1 credit; S/U only. Course max: 30 students

IDP 156 Entrepreneurship II: Entrepreneurship in Practice

Building on IDP 155, students will continue developing an entrepreneurial mindset by exploring the process of planning, testing and iterating on their unique ideas, and learning the innovative Lean Launch methodology. Teams will begin mapping their ideas using the Business Model Canvas and the Value Proposition Canvas. Students will be exposed to the Failure Spectrum and analyze cases about failure. Students work in teams to complete daily homework assignments and a final presentation. This course is designed around individual and team-based assignments that culminate in final team presentations. Enrollment in IDP 116 and IDP 155 is encouraged but not required. 1 credit; S/U only. Course max: 30 students

GFX 100 Introduction to Global Financial Institutions

Smith faculty, alumnae industry professionals and scholars in the field provide an overview of the financial system and the role of financial institutions in the global economy; domestic and international regulation; domestic and international banking. 1 credit; S/U only.

This course serves as the gateway for the Global Financial Institution Concentration and meets for eight weeks during the first-half of the Fall semester.

ACC 223 Financial Accounting

The course, while using traditional accounting techniques and methodology, focuses on the needs of external users of financial information. The emphasis is on learning how to read, interpret and analyze financial information as a tool to guide investment decisions. Concepts rather than procedures are stressed and class time will be largely devoted to problem solutions and case discussions. A basic knowledge of arithmetic and a familiarity with a spreadsheet program is suggested. 4 credits; not more than four credits in accounting may be counted toward the degree.

Take charge of your financial life!

In this course, the Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center presents an accessible and informative set of topics, videos, and activities to help you improve your financial literacy. The course is taught by Smith College Economics professor Randall Bartlett. With his eloquent storytelling prowess, Bartlett demystifies financial topics ranging from the time value of money to taxable income, and helps you gain a firm conceptual understanding of personal finance. A strong foundation in financial literacy will empower you to ask the right questions when managing your own financial affairs throughout your life.



Gain practical experience in the areas of business, consulting, finance and entrepreneurship by joining the Smithies in Business, the Consulting Club, or the Smith College Investment Club.

Smithies in Business (SIB) provides students who are interested pursuing careers in business, consulting, and entrepreneurship with resources and networking opportunities. Each semester's programming is tailored to the interests and needs of undergraduate students who want to build a strong network of professional women and would like to explore fields that require business experience and knowledge. SIB also runs SmiTHrift, the student initiative to open a thrift store on campus.

The Smith College Consulting Club works collaboratively whether it be to prepare members for job recruitment, or to encourage interest in the field. Practicing various types of consulting cases throughout the year, members gain insight into how different types of case studies are executed. Fostering relationships with classmates by bringing in alum speakers, visiting consulting companies, the club aims to guide students how to apply what they learn in the classroom in the real world. The Startup Consulting Group is a hands-on, competitive opportunity for members to apply their skills in the service of Pioneer Valley startups who are preparing for investor presentations and launch.

Launched in fall 2002 under the sponsorship of WFI, the Smith College Investment Club gives Smith students the opportunity for hands-on experience with investing while making a positive financial contribution to the Smith community. SCIC sponsors on-campus lectures by financial professionals and off-campus trips to Wall Street and beyond, and is open to all interested students.

SCIC student members are responsible for managing and investing two portfolios: a traditional investment portfolio currently valued at approximately $200,000; and an SRI/ESG focused portfolio currently valued at approxiimately $130,000. Club members meet on a regular basis to discuss asset allocation, analyze fund performance and decide how to successfully operate a well-diversified portfolio. Dividends from the traditional portfolio are donated to Smith College Financial Aid (75 percent) and to the Student Government Association (25 percent) for campus-wide activities.

Group of students smiling and displaying certificates

Competitions & Funding

Generate, share, test and refine your new venture ideas through a variety of competitions, challenges, and pitch contests. Apply for funding if you want to explore experiences designed to bolster your entrepreneurial, personal finance or business knowledge.

Draper logo

The national Draper Competition, held each Spring at Smith College, is a business model competiton designed to hone the skills that undergraduate women need to advance from idea to venture creation. Through three rounds of competition, students demonstrate an understanding of a problem, why the problem requires a new venture to address it, how their idea presents the best solution to the problem, and what resources, partnerships and activities it takes to successfully launch the venture.



Grinspoon logo

The Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) recognizes collegians who demonstrate what philanthropist and successful entrepreneur Harold Grinspoon refers to as "the entrepreneurial spirit." The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation supports the EI by fostering entrepreneurship education among participating colleges and universities in the region. Each year the Foundation provides participating schools with a pool of funds to distribute amongst students who demonstrate an entrepreneurial passion.


Students may self-nominate to receive an award in recognition of their entrepreneurial spirit. Awards are given to students at both the idea and revenue-generating phases. Successful nominees are required to attend a virtual awards celebration on Wednesday, April 28, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

2021 SELF-NOMINATION FORM due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday, March 5

Elevator Pitch Contest

90 SECONDS—is all the time students have to present business, product or service ideas to their peers, local entrepreneurs and a panel of judges. Contestants may use one 3x5 index card; no props allowed.

Shark Tank

Smith teams who have been selected to move on to the second round of the Draper Competition have an opportunity to perfect their pitches. Each team leader has 90 seconds to pitch to a room of mentors. Teams then receive feedback on ways to improve the content and quality of their presentation from the mentors.

Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship

The Conway Center sponsors monetary prizes in entrepreneurship open only to currently enrolled Smith students. Students are judged on the viability of the venture and the quality of their presentations. Winners are determined by combining scores from a written application and pitch to local business owners and investors.

Prize List

  • Best Overall Venture: $2,500
  • Best S.T.E.A.M. Venture: $1,500
  • Best Sustainability Venture: $1,500
  • Best Social Venture: $1,500
  • Best Trade Show Exhibit: $1,000
  • The Atrevida* Prize for Best Pitch: $1,000
  • Brodsky Prize for Engineering Entrepreneurship: $1,000

* Atrevida means "bold or fierce."

Note: Judges for the Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship are not affiliated with the Draper Competition. Winning a Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship has no bearing on a Smith team’s status in the Draper Competition.

Applications for a Conway Center Student Project Scholarship are considered on a rolling basis. Scholarships are granted to students interested in supplementing their entrepreneurial or financial/business education course studies or furthering the development of exploration and experimentation with a value creation entity. Students are limited to two approved requests and up to $5,000 in total funding. Scholarships may be used for costs associated with research projects, launching a business venture, course-related activity or conference attendance. Note: Scholarships may not be used to fund an internship experience; Praxis internship funding is available through the Lazarus Center.


  • You must be in good academic standing at Smith College.
  • You must not graduate from Smith College prior to utilizing the funds.
  • You must have completed all paperwork necessary to receive payments from Smith College.

Successful applicants will receive funds, disbursed as reimbursements through the Controller's Office, after completion of the approved activity and presentation of lessons learned to members of the review committee.

Past Winners

2020 Draper Competition Winners

Grand Prize Winner - $25,000 - Product Track
Emma Butler '20, Brown University

Track Winners - $10,000

  • Just Drive, Southern Methodist University
  • Ndriana Agro LLC, Skidmore College

Track Ties - $7,500

  • Block, Smith College
  • Em Pads, Oklahoma State University
  • Solupal, University of St. Thomas
  • Spara, Smith College

Track Runner's Up - $5,000

  • Eliza, Smith College
  • Lilac Feminine Care, Texas Christian University
  • ReBokeh, Bucknell University

Honorable Mentions - $1,500

  • BioFuture, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Exit 42 Media, Hobart and William Smith College
  • KISA, Smith College
  • Qubit, Cornell University
  • Sani, North Carolina State University

Fan Favorites - $1,000: Just Drive, Southern Methodist University

2019 Elevator Pitch Contest Winners

The 18th annual Elevator Pitch Contest, held on November 18, 2019, featured promising Smith students vying for the opportunity to represent Smith at the regional collegiate competition in April. The following 4 ideas were awarded monetary prizes:

Top Pitch ($400):
Claire Rand '20,

Runners Up ($200 each):
Eseza Kironde '20, KISA and Kelly Pien '20, Eliza 

Grinspoon Prize ($200):
Elise Snoey '20 and Tani Somolu '20, Walkshare

2020 Grinspoon Awardees

Concept Awards

  • Block
    Chichi Wu '22 and Adriana Beltran Andrade '23
  • FogOnyx
    Eli Boahen '20, Tatiana deVilleneuve '21J, Austin Slesinski '21, Lydia Umholtz '21 and Wayne Ndolvu '22
  • KISA
    Grace Irungu '20, Eseza Kironde '20, Peris Mwangi '23 and Josephine Nyoike '20
  • Melanated Medicine
    Amanda Nwankwo '20
  • Spara
    Nashshaba Nawaz '21
  • The Plug
    Luca Jaccodine '20, June Wai Lee '20 and Julia Chen '20

2020 Shark Tank Winners

Best Overall Pitch: $1,000 
Ages of Oppression
McKenzie Swart AC'21

Best Product: $500
The Plug
Julia Chen '20, Luca Jaccodine '20 and June Wai Lee '20

Best Service: $500 
Adriana Beltran Andrade '23 and Chichi Wu '22

Best Social Impact: $500 
Zoleka Mosiah '21J

Best Web/Mobile: $500 
Noor Khan '20, Elise Snoey '20 and Tani Somolu '20


2020 Smith Prize in Entrepreneurship Winners

*Not held due to COVID-19


The Conway Center aims to provide students with information on entrepreneurial and financial education opportunities both on and beyond the Smith College campus.


Amplify is a new initiative sponsored by the Wurtele Center for Leadership that offers you an opportunity to gain the skills, coaching and platform you need to share your knowledge and perspectives with a public audience. It is a forum where you can take what you’re learning in an academic setting and use it to develop a public voice by experimenting with different media, including public writing, speaking, and art. Through Amplify’s events, workshops and one-on-one coaching and feedback, you’ll develop a piece that you’re proud to share with the world. Amplify culminates with a chance to submit your work to the Amplify Competition.

Bloomberg Terminal Certification

As a student entering a rapidly changing economy and geo-political climate, you need every edge you can get. Knowledge of and experience using the Bloomberg Terminal is that edge. Bloomberg is a terminal-bound financial services platform that provides analysis and quotes for equities (stocks) and indices, global company and economic data, real-time and historical industry and market news, and advanced analytical and data functions. It is an industry standard in the financial services and investment banking industries.

Bloomberg Market Concepts (BMC), also known as Bloomberg Certification, is a self-paced e-learning course that provides a visual introduction to financial markets and the core functionality of the Bloomberg terminal. It takes ~8 hours to complete and progress is saved automatically. After finishing BMC, Bloomberg provides a "Certificate of Completion." 

Smith now has distance access to Bloomberg due to the pandemic.

Conway Student Project Scholarship Fund

Applications for a Conway Center Student Project Scholarship are considered on a rolling basis. Scholarships are granted to students interested in supplementing their entrepreneurial or financial/business education course studies or furthering the development of exploration and experimentation with a value creation entity. You are limited to two approved requests and up to $5,000 in total funding. Scholarships may be used for costs associated with research projects, launching a business venture, course-related activity or conference attendance. Note: Scholarships may not be used to fund an internship experience; Praxis internship funding is available through the Lazarus Center.


  • You must be in good academic standing at Smith College.
  • You must not graduate from Smith College prior to utilizing the funds.
  • You must have completed all paperwork necessary to receive payments from Smith College.

Successful applicants will receive funds, disbursed as reimbursements through the Controller's Office, after completion of the approved activity and presentation of lessons learned to members of the review committee.

Global Design Immersions*

Design Immersions are an applied learning opportunity to connect Smithies with organizations and institutions across the country and around the world who leverage design practices and methods for advancing socially, economically, and environmentally healthy communities.

*Due to the pandemic, no new Global Design Immersions opportunities for Summer 2021 will be available until further notice.

LEAD Scholarships

The Leaders for Equity-Centered and Action-Based Design (LEAD) Scholars Program is a one-year cohort program that focuses on building leadership capacity through both examining leadership through a social justice lens and learning skills of facilitation and design for social change. The Wurtele Center for Leadership and the Office for Equity and Inclusion are partnering to create a program with the mission of equipping students with the skills to apply equity-centered design to address some of our greatest social inequities. 

Amber Grant
Deadline: Last day of every month

In honor of Amber Wigdahl, who died before realizing her dreams, Amber Grants started in 1998. An Amber Grant of $10,000 is given to someone each month, and an additional $25,000 Amber Grant is received by one of the 12 monthly recipients. In the first week of each month, the winner is revealed. Applying is fast. Just take a couple of minutes to tell them about yourself and your dream for company. There is a $15 application fee required.

Chloe Capital
Rolling Applications

Chloe Capital is a venture capital fund that invests in tech businesses led by women. Although recognized for our # InvestInWomen tour, in order to access funding opportunities from Chloe Capital, or any of our co-investing partners, women entrepreneurs do not need to participate in one of our signature initiatives. We're asking you to take a moment to review our investment dissertation. You also must familiarize yourself with Chloe Capital's portfolio before applying.

Clinton Global Initiative University
Deadline: January 15, 2021 at 11:59pm ET.

Clinton Global Initiative University is looking for students in the fields of education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health. Students admitted will participate in a year-round program that provides access to high-touch mentorship; a curriculum for social impact; funding streams; and events for student engagement, including the Howard University virtual annual meeting of CGI U 2021. You are eligible to apply if you have never been admitted to CGI U before, are at least 18 years of age, and are actively enrolled in a higher education institution at the time of application. Only one Commitment to Action will be sent by students; duplicate applications will not be considered.

Coca Cola
Rolling Applications

There is overwhelming evidence that it has wide ripple effects that are positive for society to achieve equality and empowerment for women. Women spend a large portion of the income they receive in the health and education of their children and their local economies as foundations of their communities, generating a huge economic impact. Coca Cola will provide grants as long as they meet the criteria. Amount varies per business.

Davis Projects for Peace

In the Davis United World College Scholars Program, Projects for Peace is an opportunity to undergraduates at American colleges and universities to design grassroots projects they can introduce. At $10,000 each, the proposals considered to be the most promising and feasible will be funded.

Deadline: May 1st, 2021

DO GOOD X is an 8-week accelerator designed to grow companies that do good in the world for early-stage social entrepreneurs who are passionate about developing. Doing good means that these entrepreneurs want to have a positive effect on individuals, their families, and the world. They offer a network of peers and advisors to underrepresented social entrepreneurs, an engaging mechanism to explain the emphasis and goal of their business, and access to resources and technical assistance.

FedEx Small Business Grant
Deadline: March 9, 2021

FedEx is offering small businesses a chance to win $50,000. All you have to do is write a short profile of your company, upload a your logo along with some photos, optionality create YouTube video, and promote your entry.

Global Venture Catalyst Program
Rolling Applications

Students work in global teams to build friendships, develop professional networks and potential career prospects, centered on AI-optimized matching. They are learning what a startup feels like, training for higher school or upskilling programs. No expense for existing students. Accepted only by merit. Students can engage in a 4-Day Virtual Bootcamp style event if chosen. For additional possibilities, including admission into the Berkeley Venture Lab program and other affiliate projects, top teams are awarded by day 4. $500 reward per team for 5 players. 

ifundwomen Universal Grant
Rolling Applications

IFundWomen is the go-to funding marketplace for women-owned companies and individuals who want access to resources, coaching, and relationships to help them. Through a premium online fundraising experience, access to small business grants from corporate partners, professional business coaching on all the topics entrepreneurs need to know about, and a network of women business owners that sparks confidence, speeds up awareness and ignites action, they provide immediate access to capital.

Innovating Forward in the Unknown | CEO Global Conference & Pitch Competition

Join CEO Global Headquarters in a virtual workshop where you’ll get the opportunity to hear keynote speakers share their inspiring and motivational messages, participate in interactive boot camps and workshops, an exciting e-sports tournament, and much more! This event is where the final round of the Virtual Pitch Competition and the 20 finalists will compete for $15,000 in funding! 

Kapor Capital
Rolling Applications

Kapor Capital invests in early-stage tech-driven businesses dedicated to closing access, opportunity or outcome disparities for U.S. low-income communities and/or communities of color. They are especially interested in those who discuss inequalities in African-Americans and Latinx populations of disproportionate significance. They are open to investment in all sectors, including education , jobs, finance, justice, food and healthcare. Amount varies per business.

LookUp StartUp Grant Competition

LookUp is looking for exceptional Social Innovators and risk-takers - those willing to design solutions for social isolation, digital overload, and digital activism.  Winning opportunities for the winning ideas include a grant up to $2,500 to develop your idea, a community of LookUp social innovators, the opportunity to work and network with LookUp world-class executive mentors, job options, and so much more!

Mosaic Fellowship 2021
Deadline: November 14, 2020

The Mosaic Fellowship offers the opportunity for high-performing first-year graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to spend a summer as a Summer Associate at one of the member funds of ICM-the leading private capital funds of North America investing in positive social & environmental effects and market rate return. Fellows will be introduced to all aspects of fund management.

Next Wave Impact: Investor Education

Next Wave Impact provides educational offerings on the subject.  You will need to add your name and email for some of the offers in order to join, but they are all free and publicly accessible. With the help of the Kauffman Foundation, many of the videos and webinars are part of the education and training components of the Rising Tide Pilot Angel Training Program and were produced by the Angel Capital Association, Go Beyond Investing, and Next Wave.

Projects for Peace
Deadline: January 2021, Student proposals submitted to campus officials

Projects for Peace is an effort to develop grassroots projects for the summer of 2021 that foster peace and resolve the root causes of conflict between parties for all undergraduate students currently enrolled at one of our participating Davis United World College Scholars Program partner schools (and a few other institutions). In order to develop projects, we enable applicants to use their imagination and use creative approaches to involve project participants in ways that concentrate on conflict resolution, reconciliation, building understanding and breaking down barriers that create conflict, and seeking alternatives to conflict resolution and peacekeeping. Projects chosen for funding will get $10,000.

Sage Corps

The global career accelerator programs of Sage Corps provide top university students worldwide with trending professional skills and transformative international internships. Sage Corps has sent hundreds of students and postgraduate students to intern with multinational start-up companies since 2013. Students complete an online program beyond their work to develop and improve hard skills in a chosen career area that will train them for the cutting-edge employment of today. Finally, during a speaker's series, students attend weekly professional activities with our graduates, who now work at top global corporations.

Scale to $1M Startup Program
Deadline: March 17, 2021

This is a pre-accelerator education program designed to provide skills, tools, and funding to early-stage startups around the world to help them expand. The six-month online program would allow entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses, without giving up equity, to an approximate value of $1 million or more.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Rolling Applications

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that enable small domestic companies with the potential for commercialization to participate in Federal Research / Research and Development (R / R&D). SBIR and STTR allow small companies to explore their technical potential and provide the opportunity to benefit from their commercialization through a competitive awards-based program.

Deadline: December 15, 2020

Dreamit is planned for Revenue or Pilot Startups. Dreamit focuses on product-in-hand businesses, which most often with early revenue or pilots. Working with the Dreamit team, start-ups concentrate on stress testing all facets of their business, including go-to-market strategy, pricing, sales and development strategies, and more, with specific goals of speeding up their customer pipeline and raising money.

The Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge
Phase I submissions due: December 10, 2020
Finalists (5-8 teams) announced: January 2021

The Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge is a global competition that enables students to design products and services for lifelong change of well-being. The Challenge focuses on concepts influenced by the cultural change that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging long, safe, and happy lives for everyone. 

The goals of the challenge are:

  • Develop well-designed, functional solutions that promote lifelong well-being.
  • Encourage a new generation of students to gain insight into long life issues
  • Provide a route to push change in the world for promising designers

$17,000 in cash prizes will be presented, and finalists will earn paid trips to Stanford, where esteemed corporate, scholar, and government leaders will discuss their designs.

Tory Burch Fellowship

The Fellows Program is a year-long program that’s dedicated to help you lead, grow and scale your business. There will be up to 50 Fellows that will receive a one-year Fellowship with the Tory Burch Foundation that includes virtual education programming, workshops and business guidance, $5,000 grant for business education, access to private online peer community, and a trip to Tory Burch Offices for a 5-day workshop, networking, and Pitch Day pending CDC safety guidelines. 
In order to qualify you must be:

  • A woman-identifying entrepreneur who owns either a majority stake (51% or more) in a qualifying business – or – the largest or equal stake in a qualifying business that is 100% owned and controlled by women 
  • 21 years or older as of the application due date  (November 12, 2020)
  • Proficient in English
  • A legal resident of the United States

Business Criteria:

  • For-profit, from any industry
  • Early-stage (one to five years of operations preferred)
  • Generating revenues (minimum of $75,000 strongly preferred) 
  • Formed under United States law and operating in the United States

* Due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, we will be considering both revenue performance in 2020 as well as 2019 to best understand the health and market potential of your business.

The True Ventures Fellowship Program

The fellowship is intended for rising college juniors and seniors who are currently enrolled or undertaking professional journeys of some type in undergraduate institutions. Applicants should also have a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation. From early June to mid-August, the 10-12-week fellowship takes place throughout the summer. Many of the fellows are partnered with True Portfolio companies involved. Historically, this activity took place in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the 2020 summer fellowship was virtually held due to the effect of COVID-19. True Venture will be preparing a fully distributed, virtual experience for summer 2021 and will provide updates as new health data becomes available. At a fair exchange rate, Fellows earn a wage. They do not have stipends for travel or accommodation.

Venture For America
Deadlines: January 21, 2020

Recent college graduates are trained by Venture For America for careers as entrepreneurs. As a Fellow, at their intense Training Camp, you will learn business abilities and professional development. You will work in a full-time salaried job at a start-up for two years, learning how to develop and grow a company firsthand. From there, you'll be prepared to be a company leader or start one of your own.

virtual study abroad
Deadlines: December 1, 2020

Study abroad while making a social change. You will strengthen your ability to lead in confusion and complexity when working to maintain livelihoods and build opportunities in Guatemala through grassroots consulting. You will improve your global expertise and bring empathy into action by focusing on collective problem solving in teams. And along the way, you can boost your conversational Spanish.