Social Entrepreneurs from Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota are in the running for seven two-year, $60,000 fellowship opportunities, one of whom is a local man, Bradley Harrington.
A pool of 80 applicants has been winnowed to 15 finalists as the Initiators Fellowship–serving Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota–marches toward its Oct. 25 selection day and the announcement of seven fellows who will participate in the two-year program.
“We were blessed with a rich and deep pool of socially enterprising applicants,” said Jeff Wig, vice president of entrepreneurship with the Initiative Foundation. “It’s a testament to how much potential and commitment there is for growth and innovation in Greater Minnesota.”
The Initiators Fellowship originated with the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation in 2017 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, which graduated four fellows in 2019, provides a $30,000 annual stipend along with an executive-level mentor, comprehensive programming, educational opportunities and support from dedicated staff members.
The expanded Initiators Fellowship program will support seven fellows from across 41 Greater Minnesota counties: three in the Initiative Foundation’s Central Minnesota service area and two each in the Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative service areas.
The 15 finalists represent a diverse range of interests–from an entrepreneur with a year-round, high-efficiency hydroponic growing system to a community-based placemaking arts programmer to a social justice champion who aspires to create a social enterprise model that provides legal representation to income-eligible immigrants and refugees.
Locally, Bradley Harrington, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, was named as a finalist.
Harrington’s social enterprise venture is to use contemporary media to engage and elevate awareness of Ojibwe customs and to improve understanding and the self-identity of the Anishinaabe people.