FAQs, videos and more

Browse our frequently asked questions, videos, fact sheets and important links to learn more about the Initiators Fellowship and the many ways in which you’ll learn, grow and make a difference through this program.

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Being a social entrepreneur means being more than just a good citizen. While most business owners aim to provide jobs, and many donate to charity, social entrepreneurs have identified a social issue and build their enterprise with social impact at the core of their business model. If you are creating a business with a strong focus on a human, social or environmental benefit, whether for-profit or nonprofit, then you might be a social entrepreneur! Some prominent examples of social ventures—also known as social enterprise initiatives—are Patagonia, a for-profit company that has an environmental mission built into its supply chain, or Cookie Cart, a nonprofit that provides job training to minority youth while selling the cookies they produce. Read our social enterprise fact sheet (PDF) for an expanded definition.

The Initiators Fellowship serves as a launching pad for the next generation of Greater Minnesota change agents. Seven Fellows have been selected from a pool of applicants who are in the process of starting a social enterprise and who live in the participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions, representing 41 counties in Greater Minnesota. The program will run 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. Throughout the Fellowship, each Fellow will receive …

  • A $30,000 annual stipend for two years; $60,000 in total unrestricted funding
  • A $3,000 yearly allocation for technical assistance and professional development; $6,000 total
  • One on one support from an executive-level mentor within their respective region 
  • Access to an ecosystem of support through the collective network of participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation advisers 
  • Customized enterprise and leadership development training delivered through a series of convenings 
  • An individualized plan to support personal, professional and enterprise growth  
  • A lifetime network of advocates, colleagues and friends

Most individuals who are in the process of starting a social enterprise are eligible to apply. There is no nomination process; applications will be publicly available online. Applicants should fit within the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 years old by the start of the Fellowship cycle.
  • You can be a recent college graduate, a young professional, mid-career or in your encore years; we welcome social entrepreneurs from all ages and stages of life.
  • Partnership enterprises are allowed, but only an individual partner with controlling interest may apply to the Fellowship
  • You must live within one of the three participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions, or within a tribal nation adjacent to one of the three defined regions. Contact us for details.
  • You must live within the region, or tribal nation, for the two-year duration of the Fellowship term for which you are applying, and you must be committed to remaining within the region or tribal nation for the long-term.
  • You must have English-language proficiency; all programming will take place in English
  • United States citizens, nationals, lawful permanent resident aliens and persons legally residing within the region and who have the following legal residency classifications are eligible to apply: refugee, asylum or asylee, temporary protected status or deferredaction for childhood arrivals (DACA) status.
  • Diversity is a core program value. Women, non-binary people, minorities, first-generation college students, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability and perspectives are encouraged to apply. 

The application process has three stages: the search stage, the selection stage and the finalist stage.

The application period has ended. We’ll open applications for the next cohort in spring of 2021. 
During the selection stage, staff will review submitted applications. The application will consist of several short-answer questions, a one-page business plan, a resume, a reference letter and a short video. All applications will be read and evaluated by a selection committee, and all applicants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their application, regardless of whether they make it to the finalist stage.
Up to 15 applicants will be selected for the finalist stage. Those selected will be invited to attend Finalist Day, where applicants will share their ideas with a panel of judges and participate in a live pitch session. Finalists also will have the opportunity to access a variety of supportive resources. The final slate of Fellows will be chosen by a panel of judges from this group.

Video Library

Browse our video library for an overview of the program and hear first-person accounts from Fellows, their mentors and Steering Team members. 

Program Details

Play Video
Why the Fellowship?

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, shares the goals of the Initiators Fellowship program. 

Play Video
What is Social Enterprise? 

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, shares the Initiators Fellowship definition of social entrepreneurship.

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Who Should Apply?

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, explains the characteristics and qualities of an Initiators Fellowship applicant

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Why Apply? 

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, shares the benefits of being chosen as an Initiator Fellow. 

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What's My Time Commitment? 

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, talks through the flexible nature and time commitments of the Fellowship

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Why be a Mentor? 

Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Initiative Foundation, explains the benefits of serving as aInitiators Fellowship mentor. 

Being a Fellow

Play Video
Annie Deckert, Alumna

Annie Deckert, Initiators Fellowship alumna, shares how the Fellowship has elevated her leadership skills and shaped her business acumen. 

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Hudda Ibrahim, Alumna

Hudda Ibrahim, Initiators Fellowship alumna, explains how the Fellowship has benefited her business and personal life. 

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Brain Trust Advisers

Annie Deckert and Hudda Ibrahim, Initiators Fellowship alumnae, share the benefits of the Brain Trusta gathering of regional leaders whose advice and insights encourage the Fellows’ growth and development. 

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Pitch Day 

Annie Deckert and Hudda Ibrahim, Initiators Fellowship alumnae, share their views on Pitch Daythe last step in the selection process. 

Being a Mentor

Play Video
Mentor Traci Tapani

Traci Tapani, Initiators Fellowship mentor, shares all of the benefits of mentoring a Fellow.  

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Mentor David Monroy

David Monroy, Initiators Fellowship mentor, shares the personal growth he experienced as a mentor. 

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The Mentor-Fellow Relationship 

David Monroy, Initiators Fellowship mentor, and Annie Deckert, Initiators Fellowship alumna, talk about the rich relationship they‘ve developed through the Initiators Fellowship program. 

Webinar Recordings

Play Video
Initiators Fellowship Overview

Watch the first of three webinars to gain a detailed overview of the Fellowship program, the process, the benefits and the participant expectations.

Play Video
The Application Process

Watch the second of three webinars to gain a detailed overview of the Fellowship program application process, the benefits and participant expectations.

Play Video
Initiators Fellowship Recap and Q&A

Watch the last of three webinars to gain a quick overview of the Fellowship program and hear a Q&A with webinar participants. 

Helpful PDFs

To help you tunnel into the details, we have a host of fact sheets about the Initiators Fellowship that you can print or download to peruse at your leisure. 

Helpful Links

Explore helpful links to learn more about the Fellowship—from its inception to the expansion of the program to serve more of Greater Minnesota. Additional links will help to strengthen your understanding of social enterprise ventures and the role they play in society.