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Institute of Politics To Fund Civic Entrepreneurs

By Monica M. Dodge, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard Institute of Politics has introduced a new, multi-year grant initiative called “Gov 2.0,” which will give a $5000 stipend to a student or group of students to support an entrepreneurial project in the realm of politics or government.

“The goal is for students to utilize new technologies—combining entrepreneurship and politics in innovative ways—to make a tangible impact on politics in today’s world,” wrote Amy A. Howell, director of the IOP’s internship programs, in an e-mailed statement.

Although students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply, Jenny Ye ’13, Internships Committee Chair at the IOP, said that the organization hopes that the creation of this grant program will especially push students involved in technology and engineering to consider how their unique skill sets can contribute to civic and political progress.

“We are looking for a combination of people with the technical skill set who may not be engaged with politics and public service [as well as] entrepreneurs and innovative groups that are trying to think of the next big thing,” said Ye. “We want them to apply [their] creativity and innovation and entrepreneurial spirit to thinking about how do we solve important civic and political problems,”

Jeffrey F. Solnet ’12, president of the IOP, said that the program is designed not only to support the eventual winner, but also to create a community of political entrepreneurs on campus.

To foster this connection, the IOP has designed an intermediary seminar to be attended by all of the finalists before the official winner is announced. At the seminar, leaders in the field of political entrepreneurship will work with the students to help fine-tune their proposals and to connect them with individuals who might be helpful in pursuing their projects, regardless of whether they ultimately receive the grant.

Although the program has no official connection to the Hack Harvard program sponsored by the Undergraduate Council during Optional Winter Activities Week, Eric N. Hysen ’11, former UC vice president, said that both programs have a similar mission in their desire to apply analytical skills to solving problems within the Harvard community and beyond.

“The mission here is let’s empower some technical Harvard student who would otherwise think about working in the tech industry, completely not related to government, and let’s give them the ability to put their skills to work to make some government or some government agency or something with politics better,” said Hysen.

Applications for the Gov 2.0 Summer Grant are due on Friday, March 4 at 5 p.m.

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