7 Selected for Two-Year Initiators Fellowship

Social Entrepreneurs from Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota to receive stipend, mentoring to advance innovative business ideas

From a hydroponic growing system that allows for year-round fresh produce to an immigration-focused law firm with an innovative and affordable fee structure, the field of seven fellows for the 2020-2021 Initiators Fellowship has been selected.

“All of the 15 finalists brought forth tremendous social enterprise ideas that hold so much community- and business-building potential for Greater Minnesota,” said Jeff Wig, vice president for entrepreneurship with the Initiative Foundation. “It’s a testament to how much promise there is for Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota to truly lead the way in building greater good through entrepreneurship.”

Here’s a closer look at our 2020-2021 fellows:

Fellows from the Initiative Foundation's 14-county region include:

Jonathan Friesner

CROW WING COUNTY: HYDROPONICS

Friesner is bringing to market GroShed, an automated hydroponic growing system that allows for year-round fresh produce, even in the depths of a Minnesota winter.
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Hamdia Mohamed

STEARNS COUNTY: SOBER HOMES

Mohamed’s venture creates safe, secure sober homes to alleviate isolation and provide services for those experiencing depression, addiction and homelessness.

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Marc Van Herr

STEARNS COUNTY: MENTAL HEALTH

Van Herr can attest that there’s a shortcoming in the mental health care system that can leave patients waiting for weeks to see a therapist.

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Fellows from the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s 18-county region include:

Anne O'Keefe-Jackson

RENVILLE COUNTY: TRIBAL ARTS

A member of the Lower Sioux Indian Community in Morton, O’Keefe-Jackson’s enterprise is to increase availability and access to traditional art supplies for native artists coupled with a space to exhibit artwork and to host performance artists.

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Erin Schutte Wadzinski

NOBLES COUNTY: IMMIGRATION

After spending a decade on the east coast earning a law degree, Schutte Wadzinksi deliberately returned to her hometown of Worthington to put her skills to work. 

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Fellows from West Central Initiative’s nine-county region include:

Rachel Stone

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.

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Note: An additional Fellowship selection from the West Central Initiative region is pending.