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Initiative Quarterly Magazine
Initiative Quarterly

7 Selected for Two-Year Initiators Fellowship

November 6, 2019


Social Entrepreneurs from Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota to receive stipend, mentoring to advance business ideas

Little Falls, MINN.—From a hydroponic growing system that allows for year-round fresh produce to an immigrant-focused law firm with an innovative and affordable fee structure, the field of seven fellows for the 2020-2021 Initiators Fellowship has been selected.

“All of the 15 finalists brought forth tremendous social enterprise ideas that hold so much community- and business-building potential for Greater Minnesota,” said Jeff Wig, vice president for entrepreneurship with the Initiative Foundation. “It’s a testament to how much promise there is for Central, Southwest and West Central Minnesota to truly lead the way in building greater good through entrepreneurship.”

From the Initiative Foundation's 14-county region, the following individuals have been selected:

  • Jonathan Friesner | Crow Wing County | Indoor Agriculture
  • Hamdia Mohamed | Stearns County | Sober Homes
  • Alise Sjostrom | Stearns County | Sustainable Agriculture
  • Marc Van Herr | Stearns County | Mental Health Care

From the Southwest Initiative Foundation's 18-county region, the following individuals have been selected:

  • Anne O’Keefe-Jackson | Renville County | Tribal Arts
  • Erin Schutte Wadzinski | Nobles County | Immigration

From West Central Initiative's nine-county region, the following individual has been selected:

  • Rachel Stone | Clay County | Youth Leadership

Visit fellows.greaterminnesota.net to learn more about each fellow.

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.

About the 2020-2021 Fellowship

This cohort of the Initiators Fellowship runs from January 2020 through December 2021. The goal is to strengthen each Fellow’s leadership within their respective communities and to support the growth and development of their social enterprise ideas in order to help Greater Minnesota communities thrive.

About the Funders

The Initiators Fellowship is made possible by generous funders, including Granite Equity Partners, an original founding and ongoing funder and partner, along with the Bush Foundation, Sourcewell and CliftonLarsonAllen.

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