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Initiative Quarterly

Major Stock Gift Supports Fellowship Expansion

March 12, 2021

$1.2 million Granite Partners stock donation supports 2022-2023 Initiators Fellowship expansion to include Northwest Minnesota Foundation, reaching 53 counties, six tribal nations

The Initiators Fellowship, launched by the Initiative Foundation in 2016, is expanding to include the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and social entrepreneurs in its 12-county service area that includes two native nations.

Aligned with the Fellowship’s existing partners—including the Initiative Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative—the program for emerging social entrepreneurs will now be open to applicants from 53 Greater Minnesota counties and six native nations when the application for the 2022-2023 cohort opens on May 24. An eligibility quiz is now online at greaterminnesota.net/fellows.

The expansion of the program is made possible by a host of local and statewide supporters, including an extraordinary additional $1.2 million stock donation from founding funder Granite Partners. Headquartered in St. Cloud, Granite Partners is a private investment and holding company with a mission to grow companies and create value for all stakeholders. Members of the Granite Partners team, including founder and Chief Executive Officer Rick Bauerly, a member of the Initiative Foundation’s Board of Trustees, have worked with the Foundation to develop the Initiators Fellowship since its inception and have generously provided initial and ongoing funding in excess of $4 million in stock donations held in the Initiators Fund that annual generates dividends to support the program.

“It’s my hope—and a broadly shared dream—that 10 years from now, in 2030, we will look back across the 2020 to 2030 timeframe and celebrate five groups of successful and diverse social entrepreneurs,” Bauerly said. “It’s also my hope that we will celebrate the enterprise, economic, community and equity impacts that each fellow has brought to their region and to the state.”

About the Fellowship

The two-year Fellowship awards a $30,000 annual stipend to promising entrepreneurs who want to grow as leaders and who have a passion to harness the power of the marketplace to tackle a social challenge. In addition to the annual stipend, Fellows benefit from an executive-level mentor, deep programming, educational opportunities and support from dedicated staff members. A complete definition of social entrepreneurship and other details can be found in the resources section at greaterminnesota.net/fellows.

The Initiators Fellowship is a good fit for emerging social entrepreneurs ranging from recent college graduates to mid-career individuals. Additional requirements include living within one of the four participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions, or an adjacent tribal nation, for the two-year duration of the Fellowship term. Diversity is a core program value. Applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability, economic status and perspectives are encouraged to apply. Full eligibility details are outlined on the Fellowship website.

"The Initiators Fellowship aims to provide the next generation of regional leaders an opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society's needs while also building the business and leadership capacity of Greater Minnesota," said Matt Varilek, Initiative Foundation president.

The expansion of the Initiators Fellowship is made possible by additional generous funders including the Bush Foundation and Sourcewell.

For more information, or to inquire about the eligibility quiz or application process, visit greaterminnesota.net/fellows.

Additional Resources

  • Contact Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at (320) 631-2019.

To speak with a member of the Initiators Fellowship Steering Team in your Minnesota Initiative Foundation region, contact:

View videos from current Fellows Erin Shutte Wadzinski of Worthington and Rachel Stone of Moorhead to learn about their Initiators Fellowship experience.



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