The Opportunity Fund

The Garage Opportunity Fund is for full-time, undergraduate Northwestern students that identify as lower-income and have been accepted into The Garage’s Tinker or Residency program.


At The Garage, we strive to remove barriers so that all Northwestern students can experiment with starting a business or explore a new idea regardless of background. Ideas can be for profit or nonprofit, hardware or software, commercial products or artistic endeavors—anything that requires bringing a new idea to fruition.

Qualifying students can apply for up to $1,000 in funding to cover experimental business expenses that The Garage can purchase on the student’s behalf.

In addition to funding, students will be connected with peer student mentors from lower-income backgrounds to provide guidance and support on navigating entrepreneurship and The Garage's resources.

Many types of business expenses are covered, but some examples include:

  • Marketing expenses like buying a domain name, hosting a website, or getting a logo designed
  • Prototyping expenses like buying art supplies, fabric samples, or electronic components
  • Software expenses like a Canva or Zapier account
  • Skills expenses like purchasing a coding class on Udemy

Proposals are accepted during the academic year, beginning on the first day of fall classes and ending on May 1, after the student has been accepted into either the Tinker (annual) or Residency (quarterly) program.

The grant is available 1-time per year. Students can receive the grant multiple years, but must provide proof of progress on their idea or a strong rationale for starting another project in order to receive the funding multiple years.

Students who would like to learn more from a peer or better understand how to navigate resources at The Garage alongside The Garage Opportunity Fund can schedule Office Hours with Opportunity Fund mentor Zoe Lewis, SESP ’25.

The Opportunity Fund has been developed with input from lower-income students and alumni, the SES office, and Andrea Dittmann, an Assistant Professor at Emory who researches social class mobility and inequality, with an emphasis on developing interventions that reduce inequality.


  • Full-time, undergraduate Northwestern student
  • Accepted into The Garage’s Tinker or Residency program
  • A team lead – the qualifying student should be leading the idea or business*

*(i.e. not volunteering to help out on someone else’s business or idea)


Step 1: Draft a proposal for the business expenses that you would like to have covered. Each student is allotted up to $1,000, but it can be requested in smaller allotments.

Step 2: Schedule Office Hours with a designated peer mentor (Zoe Lewis, SESP '25) to review your proposal.

Step 3: Complete an application on One Form.

Step 4: If your proposal is approved, The Garage staff will work with you to purchase business expense items on your behalf.


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

  • Chris Erickson McC ’04 and Jill Slattery SoC ’04
  • Kee-Won Hong McC ’05
  • Adam Hughes WCAS ’03
  • Maura WCAS ’90 and Mark Rampolla
  • David Rangel WCAS ’98