Get Your Daily Dose of Central Minnesota Inspiration. Watch the Growing Home Video Series.


Make a Donation

Initiative Foundation Get Logos
Initiative Quarterly Magazine
Initiative Quarterly

Initiators Fellowship Program

The Initiators Fellowship recently celebrated its first cohort of graduates. We are now expanding to even more of Greater Minnesota by partnering with Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative! The application period has ended. We'll reopen applications in spring of 2021. Learn more by visiting our new and expanded website or contact Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at (320) 631-2019.



The Initiative Foundation would like to thank the many generous partners who aided in the development and funding of the Initiators Fellowship program. Special thanks to Granite Equity Partners, founding supporter of this groundbreaking regional economic development and leadership initiative.

Emerging Leaders are well positioned for the Initiators Fellowship program.

Empowering Entrepreneurs to Make a Difference

The power of business enterprise to solve society’s biggest challenges is enormous for those with a big dream and even bigger passion and drive. Now, like never before, we need the next generation of leaders to help address critical issues in our region and beyond.

Are you a young professional or college student who is developing a business or social enterprise idea and you just need the right kind of boost to make a significant impact? Then we are looking for you.

The Initiators Fellowship Program is a big, bold strategy that provides the next generation of change agents the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society’s needs while building the business and leadership foundation of Greater Minnesota.

Visit to learn more.

2017-2018 Initiator Fellows Deckert, Greder, Ibrahim, Nystrom

Four Central Minnesotans were named to the first cohort of the Initiators Fellowship program—a two-year initiative that surrounds emerging entrepreneurs with training, financial support and mentorship as they develop a business or social enterprise venture that contributes to thriving communities in Central Minnesota and beyond.

Powered by generous founding funder investments from Granite Equity Partners, an investment firm with a portfolio of companies that are rooted in Minnesota, the Initiators Fellowship program provides a $30,000 annual stipend for Fellows who are driven to make an economic, social and community impact.

The four fellows are:

Annie Deckert will pursue the expansion of her economic development enterprise, the Decklan Group, to create affordable services for small and pre-startup businesses. 

Visit here for an update on Annie's 2018 progress. 

Rod Greder will continue the development of a neurofeedback eyewear startup,

Awear Technologies, to help develop focused reading skills for youth with attention deficit disorders. Greder’s startup was a 2016 MN Cup finalist.

Visit here for an update on Rod's 2018 progress. 

Hudda Ibrahim will launch a new regional consultancy to help existing businesses attract and retain immigrant workers. Ibrahim’s enterprise also will support the St. Cloud Small Business Development Center as it works to serve new American entrepreneurs.

Visit here for an update on Hudda's 2018 progress. 

Quinn Nystrom will develop a national consultancy to promote patient perspectives for people with diabetes. Nystrom also will develop a nonprofit with a focus on education for diabetic children.

Visit here for an update on Quinn's 2018 progress. 

Read profiles of our Initiator Fellows in the 1st Quarter 2017 edition of IQ Magazine.



Chris Fastner
Initiators Fellowship Program Manager
(320) 631-2019


Jeff Wig
Vice President for Entrepreneurship

(320) 631-2006


Laura Larson
Program Associate for Entrepreneurship
(320) 631-2064

More About Us