Social Impact Fellowship Fund

What is the social impact fellowship fund?

Created to help recipients accelerate and advance their venture creation in social impact sectors, the Navab Fund will award $200,000 per year in grants to Harvard student-led ventures over five years, beginning in 2019.

The Social Impact Fellowship Fund at the Harvard Innovation Lab was established in 2019 through the generosity of Alexander Navab, in honor of The Harvard Business School Campaign.

It was Mr. Navab’s hope that support from this fund would help recipients accelerate and advance their venture creation in social impact sectors.

How much funding is available?

Over the course of five years, the Social Impact Fellowship Fund will award $200,000 per year in grants to Harvard student-led ventures focused on social impact. The grants are distributed over three periods: Fall, Spring, and Summer.

Who is eligible?

The fund supports both for-profit and nonprofit startups and is available to teams that include at least one matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate Harvard student, Harvard postdoctoral fellow or clinical fellow. While we encourage collaboration with entrepreneurs, scientists, and executives from industry, we require that a Harvard student be a founder and a committed leader of the venture. Ventures are expected to have achieved material traction with their venture. 

How do I apply?

You should not include confidential information in your application. By submitting an application, you consent to the release of information contained in your application to The Social Impact Fellowship Fund.

The selection process:

The Social Impact Fellowship Fund will evaluate applications submitted and choose select applicants to present to the committee. 

The selected applicants will have the opportunity to pitch to the committee. 

The Social Impact Fellowship Fund will select the number of grants and determine grant amounts. 

About Alexander Navab:

To his family and his community, Alex was a role model who set the highest standards for kindness, hard work, and doing his best. Beyond his considerable professional accomplishments, his legacy will be the dual values of humanity and humility that guided his life from the moment he arrived in the U.S. at age 16, through his rise to the pinnacle of business as an investor, and his tireless efforts to give back to the country he felt had given him so much.


Alex was born in Isfahan, Iran, on November 24th, 1965, to an Iranian father, Dr. Ali Navab and a Greek-American mother, Mrs. Katina Armenakis Navab. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, his family took refuge in Greece. Two years later, they emigrated to the United States and began the process of remaking their lives, with education and family as cornerstones. Alex attended Phillips Academy at Andover and Columbia College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Harvard Business School where he graduated with High Distinction as a Baker Scholar and won the Wolfe Award, the school’s top academic honor. Supporting the institutions that gave him so many opportunities, and creating those opportunities for others, would be central to Alex’s life.

In 2011, Columbia College presented Alex with the John Jay Award for his distinguished professional achievements and in 2016, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded to U.S. citizens whose example, work and generosity on behalf of those less fortunate has upheld the ideals and spirit of our country. Alex believed America was a beacon of opportunity.  He said, “You can come with a dream and fulfill that dream.” Those he inspired will feel his influence for many years to come.

Alex’s integrity and strong moral core drove his personal and business decisions alike. He believed strategic philanthropy was an integral part of business where people and resources could be leveraged to address poverty and homelessness, support education, entrepreneurship and economic renewal. At both the community and national level, he galvanized others to join him in this work. Last year, Alex realized a lifelong dream of creating his own company, Navab Capital Partners, which from its inception was designed to build great businesses and to leave a lasting impact on the social causes that mattered most to him.

No less meaningful were the smaller and often quiet acts of kindness Alex performed every day. Throughout his life, he was guided by his love for his family and fellow man. His advice to the many people he mentored was: “Rely on faith, value family, cultivate long-term friendships, embrace change, and give back to those in need.”  Indeed, the significant gifts he made together with Mary Kathryn will have a measurable impact in the areas of education and public health for generations.

Prior to forming his own company, Alex was Head of Americas Private Equity at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), the preeminent global investment firm, where he was a respected industry leader and held a number of significant roles over several decades, including as a member of the Firm’s Management Committee, Chair of the Americas Private Equity Investment Committee, and Chair of the Americas Portfolio Management Committee. Prior to KKR, he was with James D. Wolfensohn, Inc., and Goldman Sachs. Alex served as a member of the Board of Directors of Fidelity National Information Systems, Inc. (“FIS”) and was a member of the Board of Directors at Cornerstone Capital Group.

Alex was a member of the Board of Trustees at New York-Presbyterian Hospital; a member of the Board of Directors at The Robin Hood Foundation; a member of the Columbia University Board of Trustees; the former Chair of the Board of Visitors at Columbia College; a member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Executive Advisory Council at the George W. Bush Presidential Center; a member of The Hamilton Project Advisory Council; former National Co-Chair of American Enterprise Institute (AEI); a member of the Board of Trustees at The Buckley School in New York; a member of the Board of Trustees at The Spence School in New York (newly elected); a member of the Executive Committee at The Hellenic Initiative; former  member of the National Advisory Board at Youth, INC; and Chairman of the Board at The River House.

Alex embraced life with optimism and enthusiasm. He was a vital part of the communities he called home, including New York, Southampton, Palm Beach, and Greece, a place of respite and spirituality, where he passed from this world on July 7th, 2019, abundantly blessed and happy.



September 21, 2023 | Application Launch 

October 2, 2023 | Application Close 

October 18, 2023 | Pitch Notification 

Week of November 13, 2023 | Pitch Day