A mobile dentistry unit, a hand-woven scarf business and professional wheelchair repair are just three of the eight businesses selected to be part of the Social Innovators Institute, a partnership between the Center for Nonprofit Management and Community Wealth Ventures, Inc.
The Social Innovators Institute is a highly rigorous, eight-month program that provides business planning training and coaching to cross-functional teams from eight high-performing nonprofits. The goal of the program is for organizations to launch or grow a social enterprise or entrepreneurial social program.
With funding from The Meadows Foundation, Amon G. Carter Foundation, Embrey Family Foundation and an anonymous source, the Social Innovators Institute is an initiative of the North Texas Community Wealth Initiative. Launched in July 2007 and now entering its third series, the North Texas Community Wealth Initiative is a multi-faceted program designed to build capacity for nonprofit organizations through social innovation, establish a network of entrepreneurial nonprofit leaders, and stimulate regional change.
After an intensive application and selection process, eight North Texas organizations were selected to participate in the Institute. They are:
1. Ability Connection Texas (formerly United Cerebral Palsy of North Texas) - plans to launch a social venture that will provide professional wheelchair repair to individuals with disabilities. Visit www.abilityconnectiontexas.org.
2. Camp Fire USA First Texas Council - will focus on their existing Outdoor Environmental Education program in which the natural resources of Camp El Tesoro are used as the focal point of learning for children and youth to learn to foster environmental stewardship. Visit http://www.campfirefw.org/
3. Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort-Worth – WORN, a collaboration program that provides Financial Literacy education as well as supplemental income to refugee women who have been resettled in the United States in exchange for hand woven circle scarves. The Institute will provide a business plan for the marketing and sale of woven items to boutiques, department stores, trade shows and national fashion conferences throughout the United States. Visit http://www.catholiccharitiesfortworth.org/
4. Choristers Guild - will focus on growing their existing music and resources publishing and sales business, including a catalog of over 1,500 products that includes choral music, hand bell music, musicals, jewelry, certificates, posters and postcards, CDs, DVDs and books. Visit www.choristersguild.org.
5. Crossroads Community Services (CCS) – will work on expanding their Multi-Family Food Program (MFP), a hub-and-spoke collaborative distribution model for food distribution designed to reach the underserved for whom visiting the main location is a hardship. The 38 MFP sites like low-income retirement centers, the Dallas Housing Authority, places of worship, community centers, apartment complexes and other nonprofit agencies, take responsibility for delivering and distributing the food they pick-up in bulk from CCS to their neighbors. Visit www.ccsdallas.org.
6. Dental Health of Arlington – is launching a mobile dentistry unit to provide access to dental care to the under-served elderly and children in Arlington. Visit http://www.dentalhealtharlington.org/
7. The Women’s Center of Tarrant County - will market and sell curriculum, videos and program delivery training for their “Play It Safe!” child sexual abuse prevention program. “Play It Safe!” teaches children to reduce their risk of for sexual abuse by recognizing an abusive situation, resisting the abuser if possible and reporting the incident to someone the child trusts. Visit http://www.womenscenter.info/
8. Volunteers of America-Texas – will expand their The Look Up and Hope (LUH) program currently piloted in five cities across the country including Houston, to grow to additional areas including DFW and other cities. LUH is an initiative focusing on the needs of families whose mothers are incarcerated. This holistic, multi-faceted approach includes substance treatment, employment training/placement, financial literacy, mentoring, parenting skills, and family-based case management, transition planning and counseling. Visit http://www.voatx.org/
“We were very excited to launch the Social Innovators Institute and continue the growth and understanding of social innovation,” said Cynthia B. Nunn, president of the Center for Nonprofit Management. “This is the third year in which we have challenged nonprofits to think beyond the traditional realm of programs and resource generating strategies. We are excited that North Texas agencies are continuing to develop ideas to generate more unrestricted income, improve financial discipline and eventually apply more resources toward community needs."
Now through September, the organizations will participate in a series of in-depth monthly business seminars taught by experts in the field of social enterprise and business development, as well as customized business consulting. Topic areas include market and competitor analysis; pricing and promotions; and financial and operational management. The process will result in a focused business plan designed to guide the growth of the program and/or enterprise.
The mission of the Center for Nonprofit Management is to build stronger communities by increasing the performance and impact of nonprofit organizations. Fulfilling its mission since 1980, the Center for Nonprofit Management annually helps the staff and boards of more than 2,500 nonprofit organizations develop better management and governance skills through consulting, technology and education and training programs. Visit www.cnmdallas.org for more information on the Center.
Community Wealth Ventures (CWV) is a consulting firm that works to generate new resources for the social sector using business ventures and corporate partnerships. It is a subsidiary of a nonprofit anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization, Share Our Strength. Community Wealth Ventures provides consulting services for a broad range of clients in the nonprofit, corporate, and foundation communities. In addition to North Texas, CWV has also implemented Community Wealth initiatives in Springfield-Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Hartford, Newark, San Antonio, and Washington DC. Visit www.communitywealth.com to read more about the firm and this project.