The Summit offers a wide variety of capacity-building programs ranging from hands-on workshops to individualized mentoring sessions. 

Because projects brought to the Summit can be anywhere in the development process and tackle a host of different types of social challenges, Summit programming is customizable to each delegate. Once accepted, delegates will apply for and be placed in workshops relevant to their specific project and the goals they wish to accomplish.


These hands-on sessions, with industry experts, allow delegates to learn and practice specific skills relating to aspects of their project development.


Delegates work one-on-one with experts in their field who provide constructive feedback and recommendations specific to each project. 


The Summit invites prominent social entrepreneurs to relay their experiences in social change. Our Opening, Keynote, and Closing speakers provide inspiration, and seasoned advice backed by years of trial, error and success.

Small Group SESSIONS

Led by a trained GES staff member, delegates workshop their projects with a focus group of seven to eight peers, receiving personalized feedback.


At GES, we strongly believe in the power of community. With professional networking opportunities throughout the day and social events in the evening, time is given to collaborate and connect. Delegates will leave with a tight-knit network of like-minded changemakers, eager to support each other’s projects as they continue into the future

Community Building

At GES, we strongly believe in the power of community. Every night of the Summit features a social bonding event ranging from storytelling circles to Chicago outings, all with the aim of helping delegates develop a tight-knit network of like-minded changemakers eager to support each other’s projects as they continue into the future.


At GES, we strive to ensure the creativity and entrepreneurial energy doesn’t stop once delegates leave the conference. Not only are delegates connected to a wide range of GES alumni resources after the Summit — including access to a global network of GES alumni, past facilitators and institutional partners — but delegates also have the chance to receive tangible post-Summit assets and opportunities to further develop their projects after the Summit. We call these opportunities Outcomes.

Past Outcomes have included grants and investments to fund delegate projects, free marketing and content creation services, free sessions with established consulting agencies and fast-tracked application processes to prestigious conferences and fellowships such as Echoing Green.


For four days before the Summit, international delegates have the opportunity to explore Chicago’s social change scene along with GES staff members. Past programming included visits to several local NGOs, a Chicago Cubs Baseball game, and an improv show. Enrollment is first-come, first-serve. Delegates who apply by the priority deadline are given preference.