Social Impact, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Credential Program

Our program mission is to help students develop entrepreneurial thinking skills and make an impact with their ideas through co-curricular activities and impactful learning.

This program consists of networking and mentoring opportunities. Students also have access to panels, interviews with community and campus leaders, asynchronous learning modules, and in-person workshops – all focusing on customer discovery, design thinking, storytelling, innovation, and collaboration. The skills learned through this program are instrumental in assisting students in making an impact and can be transferable to any career choice.

Click each Micro for details on their pathways.

Entrepreneurial Thinking Micro-Credintial
Customer Discovery Micro-Credential
Entrepreneurial Thinking Micro-Credential


This cohesive, interactive program will allow students to show that they have acquired specific skills or competencies useful in the workplace. Recent studies have shown that there is a growing 1099 workforce and employers are looking for graduates that understand how to create value by solving problems. The skills acquired during this program will provide students with competencies that you will be able to highlight on your resume, Portfolium and LinkedIn. Think of these as professional development skills to propel you in your industry and/or launch your own company or non-profit organization that tackles a community issue.

Check out the Entrepreneurial Thinking Micro-Credential Layout and see how easy it is to participate!

Applying to Participate


Applicants must be current students at UNC Charlotte.

Students can sign up at any time during the semester and attend any of the events. See our Calendar of Events.


Complete this assessment or email Laura Smailes. We will be in touch within 24 hours!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How does this program work?

A. This program is designed with the students’ schedule in mind. Each micro-credential is 10-12 co-curricular hours, that is programmed to work with, and accentuate, your academic studies. There are three milestones for each micro-credential and each one has several options to fit everyone’s schedule. Students decide what they are able to attend and complete. With each milestone you gain more skills and understanding of how to ‘think outside the box’ and are challenged on how you can make an impact. You can begin with an idea or you can develop one along the way. The workshops, panels and exercises will help you build confidence and an understanding on how to affect change. For example, the Entrepreneurial Thinking Micro-Credential has three Milestones- Entrepreneurial Thinking, Intro to Customer Discovery and Opportunity. At the conclusion of this micro-credential you can submit a pitch on your idea (for cash prizes), work on another micro-credential or work with a local startup.

Check out the Entrepreneurial Thinking Program Activities and see how easy it is to participate!

Q: Is this a virtual program?

A. Yes and no. We want as many students to participate as possible. We have some virtual events, but by overwhelming student request, there are many that are in-person.

Q: I have never entered this type of program. How do I know what to expect?

A. We have developed this credential program so many can participate. We have workshops, panels and other resources to help you along the way and have spaced out the competitions to give you time to prepare. Some of you have an idea, others do not….YET; we equip you with the tools for success.

Check out some of our first-time participants who went on to complete the program and entered and WON the final competition! Fidel Henriquez won as a freshman. Adonis Abdullah won as a sophomore. And Sahithi Meduri went on to be named (along with Adonis and Fidel) as Charlotte Inno’s 25 Under 25 to Watch. Here is a link to all our previous program and pitch participants.

Q: How do I sign up?

A. Currently, you can sign up with a short (4-5 minute) Assessment form here or email Laura Smailes at Students can onboard at any time during the semester. Check out any of the events here – all are welcome!

Q: Who is eligible for the Credential Program?

A. All Charlotte students – any college, any major – all are welcome.

Q: What types of issues will be addressed? Can I come up with my own idea?

A. All issues! Whether you are interested in social change or have a business idea, all the fundamentals we are working on start here!

Q: I’m not an ‘entrepreneur,’ so will this program be effective for me?

A. Absolutely! This is an impact challenge, and we are wanting to help you with your ideas to make a difference.

Q: Do I have to start a company if I submit and win the 49er Impact Pitch competition?

A. There is no direct path to starting a company after the competition. We want to hear your ideas and work with you to get to the next level. Whether it is starting a student organization, implementing a program or launching a business, this is the opportunity to launch your idea and see where it can take you.

Q: Can I join the 49er Foundry after participating in the Credential Program or 49er Impact Pitch Competition?

A. Yes, the 49er Foundry has rolling applications, and anyone can apply for a spot as long as they are in good standing with the university. Visit the 49er Foundry page for more information.

Q: How much funding would I be able to receive?

A. There will be multiple categories for prizes, and we will be giving away over $5000 total this semester. Your pitch can win in the following categories: grand prize, returning 49er and crowd favorite. The number of prizes and the amounts of each prize depend on how many total participants we have. Stay tuned for more details!

Q: What if I am unable to attend one or more events?

A. This is a program with multiple options (virtual vs in-person), days, times and types of events. We want to give each student the opportunity to work with your schedule. You make your own path.

Q: More questions?

A. Just ask! Email Carrie Bovill or Laura Smailes: