The Propel Program

Winter 2022 applications are open and will close on November 28, 2021 at 11:59 PM. To learn more, schedule Office Hours with Propel Program manager, Lilia Kogan here.

Launched in 2018, the Propel program provides networking, mentorship, and immersive learning experiences that promote diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. 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.


The Propel program includes:


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


One-on-one mentorship with accomplished professionals.


Invitations to networking events throughout the year.


An annual showcase at which select participants present their projects.

Field Trips

Plans for a trip are under review per University COVID-19 policies.



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.


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


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. For Fall 2021, weekly meetings are virtual.

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.

It is not clear yet whether a trip is possible this year due to COVID-19, and we are adhering to University policies regarding travel. If the trip is planned, it will likely be later in the year and several students will be selected across the 21-22 cohorts to participate in the trip.

Please reach out to former Propel students listed by cohort on this site to find out about their experience. You can also schedule a 15-min meeting with Propel Program Manager Lilia Kogan.


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


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

Winter 2022: Applications will open on November 22, 2021 at 9 AM and close on November 28, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

Spring 2022: Applications will open on February 28, 2022 at 9 AM and close on March 6, 2022 at 11:59 PM.

Applications will be live here.

To learn more, schedule Office Hours with Propel Program manager, Lilia Kogan here.