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Nonprofits creating new earned income opportunities through Social Enterprise Initiative

SEI training with Propel

Janet Odgen-Brackett and Glyn Northington of

Propel Nonprofits (formerly MAP for Nonprofits)

lead a September 20th social enterprise training.


The partner organizations of the Social Enterprise Initiative have made great progress in advancing their income-generating ventures designed to help people with low incomes develop career pathways and build financial assets. The special initiative project period will draw to a close in a few months, but the results achieved by participants will continue to reduce the impacts of poverty in the region.

The Initiative took a collaborative approach to promoting social enterprise start-ups and helping existing ventures to make improvements. Funding was provided by the Northwest Area Foundation, technical assistance by the UMD Center for Economic Development and Propel Nonprofits (formerly Nonprofits Assistance Fund and MAP for Nonprofits), and small group training and information-sharing among participants generated new learnings.

Journey Garden Fond du Lac

Maria DeFoe discusses the Journey Garden

project which engaged Fond du Lac Reservation

youth to grow fresh produce and sell food products.

On October 25, the nine participating organizations presented project updates to their peers, sharing both challenges and successes. Below are brief summaries of each nonprofit organization's enterprise that received Initiative support.

Social Enterprise MPR broadcast

L to R: Angie Miller, Community Action Duluth;

Erik Torch, Northland Foundation; and Moira

Villiard, American Indian Community Housing, are

interviewed by MPR's Dan Kraker.

Strategies to raise broader awareness about social enterprise included a convening held September 20, titled "What is Social Enterprise, Anyway" with a presentation by technical assistance partner, Propel Nonprofits, along with a panel discussion among local professionals regarding their own social enterprise experiences. On November 2, a social enterprise-focused "Policy and a Pint" was held at the Zeitgeist Teatro Zuccone in Duluth, including a panel discussion and audience questions, facilitated by Dan Kraker of Minnesota Public Radio. Policy and a Pint is a partnership between the Citizens League and The Current.

“The outreach and education component of this Initiative is informing more people across various community sectors about social enterprise as one possible avenue for nonprofits to meet their mission while creating job-training and work opportunities for people with low incomes,” said Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking for the Northland Foundation.

The Social Enterprise Initiative will conclude on April 30, 2018.