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Initiative Quarterly

Initiators Fellowship Searching for Greater Minnesota Social Entrepreneurs

March 1, 2023


LITTLE FALLS, MINN.—The Initiators Fellowship is recruiting for its 2024-2025 cohort. Launched by the Initiative Foundation in partnership with three other Minnesota Initiative Foundations, the two-year fellowship provides a suite of supports to help emerging social entrepreneurs develop their ventures in rural Minnesota.  

Current and aspiring business owners whose enterprise is designed to create positive community or environmental impact and who reside and operate in the 53 counties and six tribal nations of the Initiative Foundation, Northwest Minnesota FoundationSouthwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative are eligible to apply. Learn more, contact program staff for a conversation and take the eligibility quiz at fellows.greaterminnesota.net/. The formal application will be open from May 1 to June 15.

The Initiators Fellowship provides the next generation of rural leaders the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to create change while building their business and personal leadership capacity. The program provides wrap-around training and mentoring—plus $30,000 annually for two years—to support Fellows and their business or nonprofit social enterprise ideas to improve Greater Minnesota communities. 

"If you are committed to revitalizing Greater Minnesota with a business whose mission goes deep to address social or environmental change, then this is an opportunity to accelerate your growth and the success of your venture,” said Christine Metzo, Initiators Fellowship program manager. 

Jon Friesner, founder and owner of Emily-based GroShed and a member of the 2020-2021 Initiators Fellowship cohort of graduates, applauds the program for linking him to a network of people who cared about him and supported his big idea of year-round hydroponic agriculture to support communities, schools and food deserts. 

“Suddenly, a bunch of people knew we existed, and that was incredibly helpful to kick us off and gain some ground,” he said. “So much of owning a business is about who you know. The Initiative Foundation and its partners seem to have a bottomless well of people they know. You can’t put a price tag on that.” 

To view the Initiators Fellowship program requirements, visit fellows.greaterminnesota.net.


About the Initiative Foundation
The Initiative Foundation serves the 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations of Central Minnesota: Benton, Cass, Chisago, Crow Wing, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena and Wright counties and the nations of the Leech Lake and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe. Based in Little Falls, the Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities in Central Minnesota by offering business loans, nonprofit grants, leadership training and donor services through its Partner Funds programs. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation and its Partner Funds have invested multiple millions in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments. Learn more at ifound.org.

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