Aspire returns on Wednesday, September 18 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the social enterprise Roosevelt Coffeehouse and Long Street Studios, 300 E. Long St. The annual event presented by The Metropreneur brings the social enterprise community together to connect, learn and honor some of the area’s most impactful social enterprises through the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards.

Network with social enterprise owners, resource providers and community supporters from 6 – 7 p.m. Programming begins at 7 p.m. with a panel discussion on hiring individuals with barriers to employment. Moderated by The Metropreneur’s Susan Post, the panel features leaders and owners of social enterprises actively employing the formerly incarcerated, victims of human trafficking, adults with disabilities and more. Panelists include:

  • Jacquie Mahan, Founder & CEO – The Awesome Company
  • Harley Blakeman, Co-founder & CEO – HonestJobs.Co
  • Sheila Kendrick, Director of Human Resources – CleanTurn
  • Paula Haines, Executive Director – Freedom a la Cart

Panelists will provide insights on their employment models, share why they do what they do, and discuss the additional considerations, programming and services they provide to help their employees succeed. The audience will also have the opportunity to ask additional questions.

Aspire 2019 will also feature the seventh annual Social Enterprise of the Year Awards presented in partnership with The Metropreneur and SocialVentures. Three social enterprises will be honored, recognizing operations in following categories:

  • Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year: local for-profit businesses, independent nonprofits or businesses of an existing nonprofit with a social mission operational for less than 18 months
  • Nonprofit Sustainability Award: local, for-profit businesses of any size that support the operations of a nonprofit
  • Social Enterprise of the Year: small, local for-profit businesses or independent non-profits with a social mission operational for more than a 12 – 18 months

Three finalists are recognized in each category, with a panel of judges featuring past award winners and members of the business community selecting the winners based on an application that evaluates the business’ mission and social impact. This year’s finalists include:

Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year

  • Fortuity
  • HonestJobs.Co
  • Wild Tiger Tees

Nonprofit Sustainability Award

  • Blue Bow Tie Catering
  • Mod Squad
  • Nature’s Touch Landscaping & Lawn Care

Social Enterprise of the Year Award

  • Besa
  • Freedom a la Cart
  • Roosevelt Coffeehouse & Coffee Roasters

Learn more about this year’s finalists here.

A cash coffee bar will be available from The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, a social enterprise that donates a portion of its profits to support efforts that provide clean water, fight hunger and combat human trafficking. Food will be provided by clients of ECDI’s social enterprise Food Fort. The Food Fort gives business owners the freedom to develop their own unique culinary masterpieces, network with other entrepreneurs, and establish their markets at their own pace with an exhaustive set of resources and services. Since launching in 2011, the Food Fort has created more than 350 jobs.

Aspire is made possible with support from SocialVentures, ECDI and Barnes & Thornburg.

Tickets are $15. For more information and to register for Aspire 2019, click here.