Finalists Announced for 2019 Social Enterprise of the Year Awards

Nine social enterprises will vie for three awards as The Metropreneur and SocialVentures present the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards at Aspire 2019.

In their seventh year, the awards seek to recognize the impact that social enterprises are making in Central Ohio and beyond. Some deploy a one-for-one model, some hire and train individuals with barriers to employment, and support the operations of a nonprofit. These awards honor organizations that are changing the conversation about what it means to have a business that values people over profit.

Learn more about each of this year’s finalists and find out who is honored in each category at Aspire 2019 on Wednesday, September 18! Learn more about the event here.

Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year Award

The emerging social enterprise of the year recognizes local for-profit businesses, independent nonprofits or businesses of an existing nonprofit with a social mission operational for less than 12-18 months.


Fortuity is reimagining what a contact center can be. Located in the heart of Franklinton, Fortuity looks to provide 500 career opportunities to an under-utilized, inner-city workforce. Fortuity is not just focused on attainable jobs that require no relevant skills or education, but creating a path for significant skills and wage advancement to help individuals bring themselves out of poverty. Fortuity provides both on-site nonprofit support partners and off-site referral partners to support its employees in various aspects of their lives.

As work wraps up on their renovated contact center this fall, Fortuity hopes to employ 100 people by the end of the year. It’s just the beginning of the social enterprise’s impact as the organization is already looking to replicate the model across the city and the state. Learn more at

Nearly 700,000 people are released from prison every year and struggle to find gainful employment, causing recidivism, more crime and fractured households. provides a simple yet powerful solution to help close the gap. The platform connects the formerly incarcerated with vetted job opportunities across the country. works with a wide range of employers including restaurant groups, transportation and logistics companies, manufacturing facilities and more.

It’s personal for Founder CEO & Co-Founder Harley Blakeman, who served 14 months in prison at the age of 19. He did everything he could to find gainful employment upon release, eventually graduating from OSU and founding, through which he estimates a formerly incarcerated job candidate is hired every single day. For more information, visit

Wild Tiger Tees

Wild Tiger Tees empowers youth experiencing homelessness with the skills necessary to gain employment while teaching them the art of screen printing. The social enterprise works directly with Star House, which provides a wide variety of resources to homeless youth from ages 14 to 24. More than printing, Wild Tiger Tees wants their model to put youth on the path to sustainability by creating a work program that provided skills training, with the right mix of mentorship and feedback.

Wild Tiger Tees has worked with 54 youth printing over 1,300 shirts. They will look to expand their impact by adding more products, and developing activities that encourage the youth’s artistic talents. Learn more at

Nonprofit Sustainability Award

The Nonprofit Sustainability Award honors local, for-profit businesses of any size that support the operations of a nonprofit.

Blue Bow Tie Catering

Leveraging an underutilized kitchen space the nonprofit already had, Godman Guild’s Blue Bow Tie Catering is providing jobs and training in the food service industry while creating a revenue stream for the organization. Blue Bow Tie provides a variety of catering options for groups from 10 to 350, for any meal of the day with buffets, boxed lunches, appetizers and more.

The opportunity to provide job skill and workforce experience to Godman Guild participants through Blue Bow Tie directly impacts their ability to find and maintain employment in the future. To date, the social enterprise has generated nearly a half a million dollars in revenue that supports the programming Godman Guild has offered to the community for over 100 years. For more information, visit

Mod Squad

Need a quick home repair or modification? Mod Squad is at the ready. Supporting Modcon Living, the social enterprise offers timely minor home repairs that aim to help everyone live in a safe and healthy home. As Baby Boomers grow older and want to age in place, finding a reliable contractor to perform minor projects can be a daunting task. Mod Squad is providing a growing list of services to these populations, as well as anyone in need of a quick fix around the house.

Mod Squad is looking to expand its areas of expertise by hiring a plumber and an electrician by the end of the year. Already seeing repeat customers, the social enterprise earned enough revenue to provide a senior a grant for a new furnace during a time of need.

Nature’s Touch Landscaping and Lawn Care

Nature’s Touch Landscaping and Lawn Care provides a path to employment for clients of Alvis. Looking for better outcomes for their clients, the nonprofit seized the opportunity when a group of program graduates wanted to obtain work as a team and the social enterprise Nature’s Touch was born. The company provides services like mowing, weeding, planting and trimming to both residential and commercial clients.

Nature’s Touch employees are also equipped with the skills they need to succeed at this job and future opportunities though an 80-hour workforce readiness bootcamp. Since implementing the training, Nature’s Touch has seen increased success in individuals maintaining employment. For more information, visit

Social Enterprise of the Year Award

The Social Enterprise of the Year Award honors small, local for-profit businesses or independent non-profits with a social mission and demonstrable impact operational for more than a year to 18 months. These businesses have helped give social enterprise a name as a way to do business in Central Ohio.


Besa is simplifying the process of giving back. The platform connects individuals and businesses with volunteer opportunities in the community, and also helps companies amplify their philanthropic efforts. The Columbus community is eager to support local nonprofits, frequently filling all of the spots for over 30 volunteer opportunities every month.

Over the last seven years, Besa has rallied over 30,000 volunteers for 5,000 projects with 75 nonprofit partners. The platform connected over 10,000 volunteers with opportunities in 2018 alone. Over the last year, they have also grown their corporate partnerships from one to 15, working with brands like Big Lots, Columbia Gas, CoverMyMeds and EXPRESS. Look for volunteer opportunities at

Freedom a la Cart

Making meals more meaningful, a delicious boxed lunch or catering order helps Freedom a la Cart provide workforce training and long-term support for survivors of sex trafficking. Freedom a la Cart provides a supportive environment for its employees, with decisions and policies viewed through a lens focused on: empowerment and recovery; safety; social and emotional regulation; collaboration and fostering relationships.

Since its founding, Freedom a la Cart has provided employment to 97 local survivors. Women are experiencing long-term outcomes like finding job opportunities in the community, maintaining employment and increasing self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, the delicious food has kept customers coming back, with the social enterprise already seeing a 60% year-over-year sales growth in 2019. Check out the menu and the mission at

Roosevelt Coffeehouse & Roosevelt Coffee Roasters

A cup of coffee that fights hunger, human trafficking and provides clean water. The community has rallied around The Roosevelt Coffeehouse. Demonstrating the success a social enterprise can achieve, the past year saw Roosevelt expand to open its own roasting facility in Roosevelt Coffee Roasters and open its second coffeehouse at the Gravity development in Franklinton.

In 2018 alone, Roosevelt donated $33,437.50 to organizations near and far fighting the injustices of hunger, human trafficking and unclean water, impacting 11,725 individuals. In total, Roosevelt has donated more than $111,000. The social enterprise’s roaster is also on track to make an impact, gaining 28 accounts and donating $2,000 in less than a year. Learn more at

The award winners will be announced at Aspire 2019 on Thursday, September 18. Aspire is made possible with support from SocialVentures, ECDI and Barnes & Thornburg.

Tickets are $15 and available at