About The Fellowship
A Social Enterprise Initiative To Make Greater Minnesota Even Greater
The Initiators Fellowship is a big, bold strategy that provides the next generation of regional leaders the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society’s needs while building the business and leadership capacity of Greater Minnesota.
The current cohort of seven Fellows was selected from a pool of 80 applicants, and each Fellows is in the process of starting or growing their social enterprise venture. The current cohort runs for two years, from January 2020 through December 2021. The goal of the program is to strengthen each Fellow’s leadership within their respective communities and to support the growth and development of their social enterprise ventures.
Cohort 3 will begin January 2022 and end December 2023. The cohort will include eight Fellows from four Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions that represent 53 counties and six native nations in Greater Minnesota. We are in the process of selecting the finalists for Cohort 3.
Minnesota Initiative Foundation Regions Served
The Initiative Foundation serves 14 counties and two native nations in Central Minnesota: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
The Northwest Minnesota Foundation serves 12 counties and three native nations in northwest Minnesota: Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau counties and the Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake nations.
The Southwest Initiative Foundation serves 18 counties and two native nations in southwest Minnesota: Big Stone, Cottonwood, Chippewa, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties and the Lower Sioux and Upper Sioux Indian communities.
The West Central Initiative serves nine counties and one tribal nation in west central Minnesota: Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin counties and the White Earth Nation.
History & Expansion
The Initiators Fellowship graduated its inaugural cohort in December 2018.
The four Fellows were supported with two years of leadership and business development training with the goal of increasing the growth and impact of their social enterprise ventures and their commitment to serve as leaders within Central Minnesota. Program evaluations were strong, with Fellows reporting a 68 percent increase in valuable network connections made through the Fellowship.
A Commitment to Home
At the conclusion of the program, all four Fellows reported an increased commitment to live and grow their social enterprise in the region where they live. Learn more about the Cohort 1 Fellows here.
The program’s early success encouraged other supporters to join the Initiative Foundation and founding funder Granite Partners in their goal to expand the program across Greater Minnesota by 2025.
The Bush Foundation, a strong booster of promoting social change through business enterprise and leadership development, has committed to a seven-year, $1.4 million investment. The first phase of the resulting expansion was a partnership with Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative, which joined the program and selected Fellows for Cohort 2. Learn more about the Cohort 2 Fellows here. In Cohort 3, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation will join and select two Fellows.