Frequently Asked Questions


What types of people and organizations are a good fit for the Centre for Social Innovation?

The Centre for Social Innovation is a space created exclusively for individuals and organizations with a social mission. This includes nonprofits, co-ops, social enterprises and social businesses. It also includes individual artists, activists, entrepreneurs and other freelancers and 'independents' committed to positive social change, as well as the writers, web designers, bookkeepers, lawyers and others who support this growing sector. We don't care if an organization is nonprofit or for-profit – we only care that you are dedicated to creating a brighter future.

What sizes of organizations can the Centre for Social Innovation accommodate?

Our Private Offices can accommodate teams of one to six people. Organizations are allowed to combine desks and offices, but no organization can have more than two offices.

What is the process for becoming a member?

Individuals and organizations interested in space must first complete an application form here: We strongly encourage you to first attend an Information Session

How are members selected?

Members are selected by the staff of the Centre for Social Innovation, in consultation with the Board of Directors and NYC Advisory Council.


What is the length of the commitment/lease?

The Centre for Social Innovation uses licenses for its spaces as opposed to leases. Private office members sign a 12-month license and private desk and Hot Desk members sign a 6-month license. All members can terminate their licenses with sixty days' notice. After the term is complete, the license rolls into a month-to-month commitment.

How can rent be paid/when is it due?

Rent is paid by check or online (direct deposit or credit card) and is due by the first of every month.

Are there any other fees or legal obligations?

There is a one-time, $125 set-up fee for each member. As a member, you are obligated to abide by the Member Co-operation Policies. This document outlines some requirements of membership, including being nice to other people and cleaning up after yourself.

What is included in the membership fee?

Included in your fees and available to all members:

  • 24/7 access to facilities
  • High-speed wired & wireless internet
  • Security system
  • Cleaning
  • Printer & photocopier access
  • A/V equipment (projector, TV, flipcharts, whiteboards, etc.)
  • Shared reception and lounge
  • Fax line
  • Shared kitchen with coffee/tea
  • Mail service
  • Profile on the CSI Intranet, an online system to connect and support CSI members.

What is not included in the membership fee?

Photocopying and printing costs are charged separately, and billed on a quarterly basis. Our costs are $0.05/page for black and white copies/printing and $0.20/page for color copies/printing.

You will also be charged for any overages on your monthly allotment of meeting room hours. Members pay around $20/hour for a meeting room.

Can I switch my package at any time?

We will facilitate any changes in packages as required, as long as there is space available. However, Hot Desk users will be limited to one change per license term – you cannot go up and down on a monthly basis.

Can I share my package?

Private Office and Private Desk members can share their package with one other organization. A $50/month fee will be charged for any sharing. A Private Desk can be used by up to two members of the same organization, but no two people can occupy the desk at the same time.

A Hot Desk package cannot be shared between two staff members of an organization or between two organizations.

In all cases of sharing, the Centre for Social Innovation holds an administrative relationship with one party and must approve any secondary party.

If you seek to 'cluster' a few desks for sharing among a team, let us know and we'll work out a suitable arrangement.

Can I get a second package?

Yes! Private Office, Private Desk and HD-100 and HD-60 members will receive $50/month off any secondary package they purchase.

Do you monitor Hot Desk time?

We have a "be cool" policy. If you go over your monthly limit by a couple hours, that's cool. But if you're using way more time than you are paying for, that's not cool. We're trusting you to be cool and to get the monthly package that best suits you.


What are the hours of operation?

The Centre for Social Innovation is open and accessible to members 24/7. However, we are staffed from 8:30am to 5:30pm. This means that we are unable to address any issues that occur after-hours.

The CSI common spaces may be occasionally closed on evenings or weekends for special events; however, you will always have access to your own workspace.

Is furniture provided?

Hot Desk members have access to shared chairs and desks. Private Desk members have access to their own chair, desk, and lockable filing spaces.

Private Offices are unfurnished.

What meeting or event spaces are available?

CSI Starrett-Lehigh has five small meeting rooms (for 2-8 people) and three medium-sized meeting spaces (for 10-30 people). The medium-sized meeting rooms can be used as classroom spaces. Garage doors between the medium-sized meeting rooms allow you to combine one, two or three spaces for larger events, and can also be opened to the main lounge space for larger receptions. Your monthly allotment of meeting room hours covers each of the meeting spaces, but combined meeting spaces and the larger event space will be charged.

Meeting rooms and event spaces are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis, using our community intranet. These spaces are also available for public rental.

What shared equipment is available?

Members share access to a high-speed copier and printer. We also have basic business equipment like staplers, paper cutters, projectors with screens, flipcharts, whiteboards, teleconference pods, and outgoing telephones.

Do you provide reception services?

We will always have someone at the front desk during business hours to help look after the shared space and to greet visitors. However, this person will not answer phones or perform any administrative tasks for your organization. They will greet your visitors and direct them to a shared phone and member listing so that your guests can contact you directly.

How does mail work?

All Private Office, Private Desk and Hot Desk members are entitled to use our address to receive mail. Our team will sort and distribute mail on your behalf.

Do you provide telephone services?

We don't provide telephone services but we have negotiated a good price with two VoIP providers.

Are there designated areas to make private phone calls?

Yes. CSI Starrett-Lehigh has a few 'phone booths' that you can duck into if you need to make a private or lengthy call.

Do you offer any storage?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide any storage. The only spaces for storage that are available to you are within your own Private Desk or Private Office spaces.

How fast is the internet?

We provide 100/100 MB internet service, wired and wireless. This bandwidth is shared among the community and we will add additional capacity if necessary. However, we expect members to manage their own usage as well – i.e., you should not be doing personal video downloads/uploads or using bit torrent software.

How often are the workspaces cleaned?

Professional cleaners come in weekly to clean all common spaces, desks and offices. Members are responsible for cleaning in between visits.

Do you have kitchen facilities?

CSI Starrett-Lehigh will have two commercial refrigerators, a toaster and microwave for the shared use of our community. We will also supply tableware and cutlery, as well as a dishwasher.

What amenities are offered by the building?

Starrett-Lehigh is an extraordinary and truly unique building. It's one of the largest in Manhattan, totally 2.3 million sq. ft. and encompassing a full city block. The building's tenants include Martha Stewart Living, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger and BIG Architects. Starrett-Lehigh was purchased last year by our real estate partner, RXR Realty.

The Starrett-Lehigh building has a 'wichcraft (eatery) on the main floor and a cafeteria on the 8th floor, both serving fresh meals every day. There is a different food truck parked outside the building each day of the week, as well as permanent food trucks on the 17th floor (Takumi Taco) and 12th floor (Van Leeuwen – ice cream, coffee and baked goods). There is also a brand new gym. RXR Realty is embarking on an extensive investment in the building, which will introduce a much larger lobby, new common space, additional food options, dry cleaner and more.

How do I get to the building?

There are several ways to get to the building:

1. Walk from the 23rd St stop on the C/E

2. Walk from the 28th St stop on the 1.

3. Take the 23rd St crosstown bus to 11th Avenue.

4. Take the Starrett-Lehigh shuttle from Penn Station or Grand Central Station. There are two morning shuttles from each station and two afternoon shuttles that leave Starrett-Lehigh for each station.

5. Walk/bike the WestSide highway!

Do I need a security badge or pass to access the building/space?

All CSI members will be issued FOB keys to enter the building/space. The FOB keys will also keep track of your printer/copier usage.


What are CSI's expectations of members?

Members are expected to pay their rent and maintain the cleanliness and safety of their space and our common spaces at all times. But more than that, we expect members to contribute to the culture of the Centre for Social Innovation. This means bringing your ideas, energy and passion to the space. This means a willingness to share – and potentially collaborate – with other members. CSI does not try to control or mandate the behavior of its members – but we do strive for a positive, healthy and collaborative space. If you are just looking for a quiet place to work by yourself – CSI may not be a fit for you.

What do you mean by 'Community Animator'?

The Community Animator is a CSI staff position that is at the frontlines of space management and culture-building. The Community Animator helps make sure that all spaces are well stocked and also helps to establish the tone for the community. They'll speak with you to understand what you are working on and will try to draw connections among members of the community. Think of the Community Animator as a barista for social change!

BUT – the Community Animator does not create community. You do. Or, rather, we all do. In order to establish the type of space we all want to be a part of, we all must play a role in building it.

What do you mean by 'Community Intranet'?

We have built a community website available only to members. Each member of CSI has a personal and organizational profile, and can use the site to post and read about news, jobs and events related to NYC's social impact sector. Content uploaded to the site will also be shared through CSI's promotional channels.

The intranet is also an administrative tool, with a comprehensive Member's Manual (everything you wanted to know about CSI but were afraid to ask) and Room Booking software.

We also have an internal mailing list that we use to communicate among the membership. This is a vibrant resource and a great way to get help on just about any challenge.

Can I bring my dog to work?

Is it nice? If so, you can. Respectful doggies are welcome at CSI.

What type of programming does CSI offer?

We host an incredible array of workshops, trainings, salons, film nights and other events intended to advance the success of individual projects while catalyzing a broader movement for social innovation in the city. However, it is important to note that CSI is responsible for just a fraction of this content. It is our community and the broader sector that help us establish the Centre for Social Innovation as a learning destination for the social change community.

CSI takes an active role in convening programs that engage our membership, including shared meals, social innovation conversations, quarterly socials and more.