From a hydroponic growing system that allows for year-round fresh produce to an immigrant-focused law firm with an innovative and affordable fee structure, the field of seven fellows for the 2020-2021 Initiators Fellowship has been selected across Minnesota. West central Minnesota is home to two of them – Rachel Stone and Elke Richards.
West Central Initiative is joining forces with the Initiative Foundation and Southwest Initiative Foundation to offer The Initiators Fellowship as a way to help aspiring social entrepreneurs fast-track their ideas, grow their social and professional networks and further develop their business and community leadership skills. The program provides a $30,000 annual stipend along with an executive-level mentor, comprehensive programming, educational opportunities and support from dedicated staff members.
“We expect that Initiator Fellows from our region will become ambassadors for the movement, demonstrating how and why this kind of entrepreneurship is valuable and contributes to both the social and economic vitality of West Central Minnesota,” said Anna Wasescha, president and CEO of West Central Initiative. “We hope that this program will provide exactly the kind of support that entrepreneurs in our communities need to take their very good ideas and preliminary hard work to the next level.”
West Central Initiative Fellows
Clay County | Youth Leadership
As an educator, Stone's venture is to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to manage daily activities and confidently face new situations while creating pathways to educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. “There are so many gaps and unmet needs when it comes to our youth and my heart is encouraging them to break cycles, create opportunities to lead, and to do whatever we can to bring change and unity in our community."
Douglas County | Local Foods Market
Inspired by the legacy she’d like to leave, Richards' venture is Venn Hagen, a market that offers locally raised, sustainable foods with a focus on food security and waste reduction. Also central to the vision are living-wage pay and growing a healthy community. "Venn will be the business leader in plastic and food waste reduction, food security, and growing a healthy rural community."
About the Fellowship
This cohort of the Initiators Fellowship runs from January 2020 through December 2021. The goal is to strengthen each Fellow’s leadership within their respective communities and to support the growth and development of their social enterprise ideas in order to help Greater Minnesota communities thrive.
About the Funders
The Initiators Fellowship is made possible by generous funders, including Granite Equity Partners, an original founding funder and partner, along with the Bush Foundation, Sourcewell and CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation.
To learn more about the Initiators Fellows across Minnesota Click Here