The Propel Program


Launched in 2018, Propel is an internationally recognized, award-winning program providing networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences. Women who are full-time students can apply for the program, which is made possible by generous donors. Ideas can be for profit or nonprofit, hardware or software, commercial products, or artistic endeavors—anything that requires bringing a new idea to fruition.

Pictured above, Propellers visit the Goldman Sachs office in New York City on a 2018 field trip.

Program

The Propel program includes:

Award

Up to $1,000 to spend on an entrepreneurial project.

Mentorship

One-on-one mentorship with accomplished professionals.

Networking

Invitations to networking events throughout the year.

Showcase

An annual showcase at which select participants present their projects.

Field Trips

Participants attend an all-expenses-paid annual field trip to visit industry-leading brands.

Propellers

Mentors

Background

40% of US businesses are owned by women. However, less than 10% of venture-backed companies have a woman founder and only 2.8% of venture capital went to all-woman founding teams. The Garage is committed to supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs. In 2018, The Garage launched the Propel program to support women students.

Donors

Thank you to the following generous donors for their commitment to supporting the Propel program and student entrepreneurs at Northwestern: 

  • Steve KSM ’92 and Katherine Elms
  • Whitney de Hosson Marriott WCAS ’86 and Michael Marriott
  • Natalie and Jonathan Silverstein
  • Andrew WCAS ’91 and Heather Zuckerman

FAQ

Women who are full-time students can apply for the program.

We plan to offer one Propel cohort (up to 8 students) per quarter. Check back here for the upcoming application dates. 

Because of a limited number of spots (up to 8 per cohort), we are not able to accept more than one team member into a Propel cohort.

You can be starting your entrepreneurial journey or have already taken initial steps (i.e. formulated your idea, conducted some customer discovery, have started building a prototype, etc.).  Propel aims to support you wherever you are in your journey.

Propel consists of 8 weekly accountability / speaker sessions during the quarter and each session is one hour long. Propel students are matched with a mentor and are responsible for meeting their mentor 3 times during the quarter. Additionally, we suggest that students apply to Propel during a quarter where they anticipate having 3 hours or more per week to work on their project or idea outside of Propel meetings.

Propel offers a financial award of up to $1,000 for approved items, 1-on-1 mentoring, and an inclusive community. Community is fostered by weekly accountability meetings and speaker events. 

Examples of items covered by Propel include web hosting fees, marketing materials, on-line advertising and components to build a hardware prototype. Items typically not covered by Propel include gift cards, meals and travel. Propel cannot be used to compensate another student for their work on your idea or project.

There are up to 8 students in each cohort.

You may request an extension to use any left over funds during one quarter following your Propel quarter of the academic year by submitting a “continuing grant” application, provided you remain in a full-time program at Northwestern during that quarter.

For example, Fall Propel students may apply for this “continuing grant” (CG) during Winter quarter.  Spring students may apply for CG during the Fall quarter of the following year. Propel does not offer CG or reimbursements during the summer.

Please reach out to former Propel students listed by cohort on this site to find out about their experience. You can also email Propel Program Manager, Charlotte Oxnam, at charlotteoxnam2023@u.northwestern.edu

News

Propel Wins National Award in Entrepreneurship Education

Recap: Pathways for Women in Venture Capital

Program Highlight: Propel Huddles

Recap: Natasha Ramanujam ‘15 + Propel

Polina Marinova Pompliano, Founder of The Profile, Shares Her Entrepreneurial Journey with Propel

DNA Testing at Home // Northwestern Magazine

Students Develop At-Home DNA Test with Privacy in Mind

Virtual Propel Showcase 2020

Propel 2020 Kickoff

Propel + NYC 2019

Propel Showcase: The Wrap Up

Green is the New Black: Two Northwestern Students Hope to Clean Up the Fashion Industry

Propel Program Elevates Young Female Entrepreneurs

Lux, a Remedy to the Pains of Waking Up

Big 10 Features Propel

New Program Empowers the Next Generation of Female Entrepreneurs

Steve and Katherine Elms Establish Program Promoting Diversity in Entrepreneurship

Apply

(open to full-time, degree seeking Northwestern students only)

Fall 2022 Applications Open: September 12, 2022

Fall 2022 Applications Close: September 25, 2022 @ 11:59 PM CT

Winter 2023 Applications Open: TBA

Winter 2023 Applications Close: TBA

Spring 2023 Applications Open: TBA

Spring 2023 Applications Close: TBA


To learn more, email Propel Program manager, Charlotte Oxnam, at charlotteoxnam2023@u.northwestern.edu