Elke Richards of Alexandria and Rachel Stone of Moorhead have been named west central Minnesota Initiator Fellowship recipients. This is a new program for the nine county region that provides support for aspiring social business entrepreneurs and is sponsored by West Central Initiative, the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls, and the Southwest Initiative Foundation of Hutchinson. The program is designed for Fellows to fast-track ideas, grow their social and professional networks and develop community leadership skills.
The program provides a $30,000 annual stipend along with an executive-level mentor, comprehensive programming, educational opportunities and support from dedicated staff members.
Inspired by the legacy she’d like to leave, Alexandria’s Richards’ venture is Venn Hagen, a market that offers locally raised, sustainable foods with a focus on food security and waste reduction. Also central to her vision are living-wage pay and growing a healthy community.
As an educator, Stone’s venture is to equip young people in need with the knowledge and skills required to manage daily activities and confidently face new situations while creating pathways to educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.
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. The Initiators Fellowship is made possible by generous funders, including Granite Equity Partners, an original founding funder and partner, along with the Bush Foundation, Sourcewell and CliftonLarsonAllen Foundation.