Summer Founders Program


The Summer Founders program gives Penn State teams $10,000 each to work on their startup, social good, or non-profit idea for the summer. The 2020 Summer Founders Program, in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, will provide the funding, mentorship and resources you need to scale your new venture.

Important Dates - 2020

  • Applications Open Jan 6th
  • Applications Close Midnight Feb 16th
  • Finalist Interviews February 27th-28th
  • Teams Selected Feb 28th
  • Kickoff Team Dinner March 24th
  • Startup Showcase August 12th

About the Program

  • The 2020 Summer Founders Program is a signature program of Invent Penn State provided in partnership with Happy Valley LaunchBox.
  • The program is designed to help accelerate startup businesses by providing them the funding, resources, and mentorship they need to work full-time on their business over the summer.
  • The program will be held in State College, PA, over 13 weeks this summer starting May 15th and ending August 7th.
  • Participants must commit to work in State College, PA, for the summer.
  • Participants must commit to work full-time on their funded projects and not participate in any other internship or job, or register for classes.

Benefits of Participation

  • Participants will meet regularly with mentors and other entrepreneurs to grow their network and accelerate their new venture.
  • Participants will meet with other founders, local business leaders, and mentors over a weekly dinner.
  • Teams will have 24×7 access to the LaunchBox facility and space in one of our team rooms, with free Wi-Fi, coffee, and printing.
  • Participants may be eligible to receive an additional $3,000 to support customer discovery and travel expenses through Invent Penn State NSF I-Corps Site program.

About the Funding

  • Funding is made possible through the donations of successful entrepreneurs interested in supporting new student ventures. We do not take ownership or equity in your business or non-profit. All we ask is that you commit to working hard on your project for the summer, making an impact in your community and beyond.
  • Funding is granted through the Penn State Development Office. At least one founder must be an active Penn State student in good standing.
  • We will fund solo founders, but prefer teams of two or three persons.


The Penn State Summer Founders Program is made possible by the following donors:
  • Ballantyne & Leonard Foundation
  • Brad Bogolea, Penn State Bischoff Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Chris Fanini, Co-Founder of Weebly
  • David Rusenko, Co-Founder of Weebly
  • Edward Hintz, President, Hintz Capital Management, Penn State Trustee
  • Invent Penn State Fund, Established by Penn State President Eric Barron
  • Ira Lubert, Chairman and Co-Founder of Lubert-Adler, Penn State Trustee
  • Matt Brezina, Founder of Xobni, Sincerely
  • Michael Seibel, Partner in Y Combinator, Co-Founder Socialcam and
  • Ryan L. and Meredith A. Newman Family Endowment
  • Are you interested in supporting this program through a tax deductible donation? We’d love to have you involved. Please contact Heather Winfield:

Frequently Asked Questions

Any team who will be in the State College area over the summer with at least one founder who is currently a Penn State student in good standing can apply. This includes students from all Penn State campuses. Note: Students scheduled to graduate in May 2020 are still eligible to apply.

The money will be released towards the end of the school year, while you are still considered a student. Though you may no longer be a student after graduation, the grant was given to you with the understanding that you are a student entrepreneur looking for assistance in growing your idea. If that so happens to mean that you are a senior and ending your career at Penn State, we are certainly still glad to have you as a team involved with the program.

Yes. The program is open to help any student with an entrepreneurial endeavor.

An important aspect of the Summer Founders Program is that it is meant to help your team grow as you work throughout the summer time with other teams in the area who may be faced with similar challenges. Remote teams put a limit on this dynamic and are not encouraged.

A key part of the program is having the teams and individuals live around the State College area. This will give you access to local mentors, resources, and other teams that are a part of the program. If you need help finding housing, the program may be able to provide some suggestions on some inexpensive locations to rent or sublet.

Teams are expected to work full time on their business over the duration of the program. Founders are expected to attend weekly dinners and to meet with advisors on a regular basis throughout the program.

Certain teams may be eligible for an additional $3000 to support customer discovery through the Invent Penn State I-Corps Site program.  Please visit the Invent Penn State I-Corps Site for more information.

Since this grants purpose is to not only help fund your living expense, but also expenses associated with the project, we recommend you decide, as a team, how funds should be allocated. It is your decision on how you distribute and spend the funding, but we will assist you with coming up with a budget if you are granted the award.

How funding will be released to teams is still to be determined.

In the past, the full award was granted to the primarily team contact as indicated in the program application. If that is the case again this year, that individual will owe taxes on the $10,000. The amount will depend on their deductible business expenses.

Experts available through the Happy Valley LaunchBox and Penn State Small Business Development Center will assist your team in determining tax liabilities at the outset of the summer.

No. We take zero equity and charge no fees.

This program offers a great opportunity and alternative to internships and other experiences. We expect that all grant recipients understand the commitment they are making to the program throughout the application process and in accepting the offer to the program and wil not back out after accepting the offer to participate in the program.