Athena Summer Innovation Institute

Entrepreneurs envision the future. And you can be a part of it.

Sunday, June 23- Friday, July 5, 2019


We believe in the power of women to change the world. The Athena Summer Innovation Institute is an intensive, 10-day boot camp that provides young women with the practical skills and knowledge they need to develop new ideas that will make a difference in the world.  Students will work in teams to create a new venture — start-up businesses, non-profit organizations, or advocacy campaigns — that have the power to disrupt traditional ways of doing things and create lasting change.

Participants in the Athena Summer Innovation Institute should be creative, motivated young women who have an entrepreneurial spirit. You should be interested in developing new ideas, pioneering new products, and crafting new solutions that have the potential to challenge the status quo. 

You will have the unique opportunity to learn from talented instructors and successful entrepreneurs. Gaining practical public speaking skills while participating in site visits to women-owned businesses and nonprofits and taking workshops on financing, negotiation, branding and more, you will walk away feeling more confident and more empowered as an innovator, leader, and entrepreneur.


Program Features...

  • Develop your public speaking and presentation skills via improve techniques and storytelling workshops
  • Attend engaging classes on financial fluency, customer research, branding, marketing and more: key topics necessary for any innovator or entrepreneur.
  • Work on an overarching team project to design a venture — culminating in final pitch to an esteemed panel of leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators
  • Entrepreneurial site visits for a first-hand look at how start-ups run and existing companies stay innovative.

Learn, Create, and Experiment in a Supportive Environment

The foundation of Athena Summer Innovation Institute is experiential learning.  Students not only learn how organizations work, but they have the opportunity to develop their own idea.  From ideation to engaging in market research to creating the communications plan and budget necessary to distribute the product or idea, students experiment with entrepreneurship. Each day starts with a review of the learning objectives for that day’s activities and culminates in a period of reflection.


Attend Workshops Taught by Experienced Instructors and Successful Leaders

Classroom workshop topics are focused on the pillars of business development and are taught by experienced facilitators and successful entrepreneurs.


Meet Successful Women Entrepreneurs

Athena Summer Innovation Institute participants also have the opportunity to visit successful startups and meet women entrepreneurs who can

Hanky Panky site visit led by Barnard Alumna, Lida Orzeck '68
help students understand what it takes to turn ideas into action. Site visits in past years include trips to Hanky Panky, General Assembly, Compass, and Levo League, to name a few.


Present your Projects to an Esteemed Panel of Entrepreneurs and Investors

Through the group project, students put into practice what they are leaning in the classroom to build a pitch for their proposed venture. Students work with talented story coaches and prestigious Barnard speaking Fellows to enhance their public speaking skills and boost confidence. The group projects also allow individuals to exercise their team leadership and coordination skills. The institute culminates in a final ‘Pitchfest’ where teams present their ideas to an esteemed panel of leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators.