Firebelly University

Download Application Applications Due July 25

What is Firebelly University? Who is it for? When, where, and how much? Why?



Firebelly University is the real world alternative to an MBA, teaching people with a social awareness and passion for design to make a more just society. Firebelly U teaches the leadership skills to turn your passion into a career, from starting your own design studio to running a nonprofit or building a social enterprise.

Mondays to Thursdays

Spend Monday through Thursday running the business hands-on, full force. You learn the technical and social skills you’ll need to be successful, plus all the stuff no one talks about: cash flow, profit and loss statements, payroll, invoicing, as well as client communications, how to say no, the best ways to network, and how to sell yourself and your work. You’ll also be doing real work for real clients. Projects will include everything a design studio might undertake: branding/identity, messaging, print/web design and web development .

Your Fridays

Fridays will be educational/experience days where you’ll get to meet community + industry leaders in and out of the studio. You’ll be able to ask the hard (and sometimes impolite) questions you’ve always wanted answered. How do you determine salaries (including your own!)? How do you fire someone? What was the biggest mistake you made along the way? These are the days you will be able to really get insight into all types of businesses and organizations.

Nine Months

Over the course of the 9 months you’ll also be working on an individual project with a much larger scope. This is the catalyst for starting your business, producing a spectacle event, creating your own social enterprise, you’ll get to focus in on what matters to you most. From the ground up, Firebelly U will give you the tools, resources, knowledge and connections you need to create the career/business/life of your dreams. Tall order? We’re up for the challenge!

Maybe you've been thinking about taking that next step to start your own business, but you don't know where or how to begin.

Firebelly University is looking for 5 socially conscious entrepreneurs-in-the-making. We want people who are looking for real world experience, who want to build connections and gain resources a traditional MBA program wouldn't provide. We want people who wear many hats. Designers, writers, developers, project managers, accountants, illustrators, photographers, videographers, musicians and everyone in between. If you can circle 2 or 3 of these and have a superhuman drive to make a difference in the world, you’re probably a perfect fit.

In the Chicago offices of Firebelly Design, you can join forces with 4 other do-gooders for only $6000. And guess what–you get every penny of it back and then some.

Firebelly University founder Dawn Hancock started her first business in 1999 with $6,000 by cashing in her 401k. Your $6,000 acts as seed money for the program. Every month you’ll get $1,000 plus 10% of each month’s profit as a stipend. Firebelly U provides all equipment, software + supplies. And although housing is not included, we’re happy to suggest neighborhoods or help you figure out public transit if you’re new to the city.

The proof is in the pudding. And since we love pudding and the fact that people don't always believe the way we run Firebelly Design—with a focus on good design, for clients we believe in, that supports a nonprofit and makes decisions in a socially conscious way—is possible, we decided to start our own army of good.

We want to continue to make the world a better place and we need your help! Getting more socially conscious businesses to take root across the city, state, country or world (dream big!) will make our communities healthier, stronger + more vibrant.

We also want to help you change your own life too. Spend 9 months working to make society better, how could you not be affected? We’ll help you translate your passion into a real, sustainable business!