Social Enterprises Take the Stage for SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Sustainability Showcase

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Photos provided by SocialVentures.

SocialVentures hosted its third annual Nonprofit Sustainability Showcase event at Vue Columbus on February 7, 2019. Four SocialVentures’ Nonprofit Catalyst participants shared their social enterprise concepts with more than 200 attendees. These four nonprofits will join the rapidly growing social enterprise sector in Central Ohio, which today is more than 100 strong, approximately 60 of which are nonprofit organizations leveraging social enterprise to sustain and advance their missions.

Learn more about the new concepts, and consider how you or your organization might support them as they embark on the start-up stage in their development.

First English Lutheran Church – 22nd Street Cookies

Located in Downtown Columbus, First English Lutheran Church provides meals to the homeless and mentors youth. They provide wrap-around services for recently incarcerated individuals to help them get back on their feet. But from their perspective, the most devastating battle the congregation faced was the rate at which their youth were abandoning the church in favor of taking part in gang-related activities.

The church leadership team and members of the congregation, in partnership with individuals from Capital University, came together to create 22nd Street Cookies, a social enterprise concept that will provide job training and employment opportunities to youth ages 14 to 21. Consumers will be able to purchase cookie dough by the pound, and the church will begin by launching a pilot program to engage the more than 20 local churches they have established relationships with, to fine-tune their operations, determine the best price point, and establish the parameters of wrap-around services their youth will need.

Current community ask:

  • Assistance with the operations aspect of launching the new venture.
  • Mentors and volunteers to work closely with the youth.
  • $65,000 in funding for start-up costs.
  • $160,000 in funding to cover the first year of operations.

Freedom a la Cart

Launched in 2007, Freedom a la Cart empowers survivors of human trafficking by providing employment opportunities and helping them achieve self-sufficiency. From just a single food cart, the nonprofit has since expanded its operations and today is well known in Central Ohio for its boxed lunches and catering services. But in 2017, the organization’s contract for a facility ended and the organization had to reduce the number of survivors it served down to fewer than 10.

In spite of this setback, the organization has consistently realized 50 percent year-over-year revenue growth. To continue this path and to diversify its revenue streams so that the organization can be less reliant on grants and fundraising, Freedom a la Cart is seeking a permanent facility where they can launch a café that will be open to the public for breakfast and lunch, then used in the evening for organizations wishing to rent the space for private events. Freedom’s staff will also use evening hours to prepare the next day’s catering orders.

Current community ask:

  • $1M, $200,000 of which has already been committed.
  • Opportunities for survivors who are transitioning out of Freedom to transition to more traditional employment.   

See Kids Dream – Engage Good

See Kids Dream supports thousands of youth in schools throughout Central Ohio by offering service-learning programs. The programs provide kids opportunities to explore community issues, grow their leadership skills, and discover the myriad ways they can engage in making a positive impact in the community.

See Kids Dream’s social enterprise concept, Engage Good, targets corporations seeking fun, engaging, team-building activities that are designed to give back to the community. Few nonprofits have the resources and capacity to create customized experiences for corporate teams that are larger than 10-20 (or more) employees, let alone include a team-building component to their volunteer opportunities. The revenue generated through this social enterprise will help provide even more opportunities to introduce service-learning programming to students.

Current community ask:

  • $120,000 hire staff to build the organization’s capacity to launch the program.
  • Volunteers to start preparing to pilot this program starting in June 2019.  

Victory Ministries Center of Hope – COH Construction Services

Victory Ministries Center of Hope (COH) started 35 years ago to serve the organization’s neighbors in East Columbus and Whitehall. Today, the organization is a community resource center that is focused on breaking the cycle of poverty and bringing hope to residents. Victory Ministries provides access to essential services such as food pantries, medical care, clothing, clinical counseling, tutoring and employment. The organization’s residents experience a seven percent unemployment rate and a poverty rate of 23 percent— both of which are double the state and national rates.  

The social enterprise, COH Construction Services, will leverage the organization’s team, which is comprised of individuals who have more than 100 years of residential housing industry experience. The group will take advantage of Central Ohio’s booming construction industry in need of long-term employees by purchasing, restoring and selling investment properties, while providing job training for lasting employment for its residents, to rebuild homes and lives. The revenue from the sale of the homes will be reinvested into the organization, to expand all of its community resources services and the number of individuals to be trained through COH Construction Services.

Current community ask:

  • $280,000 in working capital to acquire the initial properties needed to launch this venture.

If you or your organization is interested in making a contribution of time or start-up capital, please contact SocialVentures by sending an email to info@socialventurescbus.com.

Explore the 100+ existing social enterprises that are active in creating positive social change in Central Ohio, by visiting SocialVentures’ online marketplace or socialventurescbus.com.

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Sara is a writer, marketing expert and experienced event planner. Sara works with SocialVentures (formerly the Center for Social Enterprise Development). She has nearly 20 years of agency, print, web, email and social media marketing communications experience, from local to global markets, in for-profit, non-profit and social enterprise sectors. She graduated from Kenyon College, has lived in Germany and Japan, and now lives in Columbus with her husband and their three children. Contact Sara at sara@socialventurescbus.com.