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StartingBlock, in partnership with the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and Associated Bank, has selected eleven social impact entrepreneur teams for StartingBlock’s 2021 Social Impact Cohort.

The selected teams each have business models that address significant social and environmental challenges and demonstrate how social entrepreneurship can have a long-term impact in Wisconsin and beyond.

This year the cohort will be offered in a full virtual format due to Covid related restrictions. However, StartingBlock Madison’s Community Manager and project lead, Marc Yarmoff sees opportunity in the virtual platform. “The virtual format has allowed us to expand our reach this year, as well as accommodate entrepreneurs with accessibility challenges. While we are still focused on developing Wisconsin-based companies, this year we are excited to have teams from both the East and West coast!”

The eleven teams consist of a combination of both for-profit and nonprofit entities and represent entrepreneurs that are just beginning to develop their plans as well as entrepreneurs who have started business plans, marketing plans and are developing funding. These teams participated in two separate rounds of evaluation, including an interview with volunteer judges from sponsor partners: Associated Bank and American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

Activism Always: Activism Always provides a hybrid service that combines strategy consulting with AI technology to support nonprofit social engagement. Understanding that the nonprofit field lacks resources to tap into their organization’s data, their technology and service allows nonprofits to flexibly and reliably organize data into easy-to-access insights and visualizations.

America & Moore: Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. has pursued and achieved success in academia, business, diversity, leadership, and community service. In 1996, he started America & MOORE, LLC to provide comprehensive diversity, privilege, and leadership training/workshops. Now, Dr. Moore is taking advantage of this opportunity to bring his knowledge to corporations looking to broaden their understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Black Girls United: Black Girls United Mission is to engage and develop stronger girls of color to positively impact the world. To achieve this, Black Girls United develops programming specifically targeted at girls of color, focusing on strengthening, empowering, and building our young girls to be influencers and change agents in society.

Dane County Multi-Agency Center: DaneMAC aims to restore autonomy and improve healing for survivors of sexual violence in Dane County by reducing practical, economical, systemic, and cultural barriers to support and by connecting support services to each other.

Elevation Consulting: Elevation Consulting exists to maximize healing and well-being for underserved groups through innovative provider training solutions and strategic programmatic planning that emphasize the need for cultural sensitivity in interpersonal and
clinical relationships.

Empathy 4 Equity: Empathy 4 Equity (E4E) exists to build a culture of empathy framework for organizational excellence. They work with nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to provide strategies and opportunities to build a culture of empathy for transformation and social change. Transformative Social Change frameworks come from community accountability models that believe people who work together share a mutual responsibility to care for each other. Empathy impacts the way we experience the world around us and how we interact with others.

Erevna: Erevna empowers marginalized students to develop professionally, socially, and mentally through prestigious research opportunities, community-based education, and collaborative impact-focused competitions.

Peter Gray Executive Search: Peter Gray Executive Search is a social impact executive search firm. They help employers in affordable housing, impact investing, and the nonprofit sector accomplish leadership succession and other key hiring. Their approach takes the bias out of the recruiting process, promoting fairer and more inclusive hiring.

The Rage Fund: It is time for people with disabilities to focus on thriving instead of putting their enormous energy into just surviving. The Rage Fund is starting its work by addressing issues and

obstacles commonly faced by people with physical disabilities. For meaningful community inclusion, people with physical disabilities must have an appropriate level of caregiving support.

Voltage Volunteering: Voltage Volunteering’s mission is to help communities capitalize on the energy and potential their community members have to offer by eliminating resistors in the path to volunteering.

Wisconsin EcoLatinos: Wisconsin Eco Latinos aims to promote and advocate for environmental rights in the Latino community to improve the quality of their surrounding environment, increase energy conservation and waste reduction.

Participants in the Social Impact Cohort receive free space at StartingBlock for six months as well as customized programming and support by StartingBlock and partners, Associated Bank, and American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. Social Impact Cohort entrepreneurs receive customized programming from a team of experts who will work with them to develop a business plan, practice storytelling, practice their pitch, and learn how to grow following the theories of change management.

“The Social Impact Cohort allows entrepreneurs to be a part of the StartingBlock entrepreneurial ecosystem, to access our community and partners, and to use those tools, relationships, and expertise to accomplish their goals and affect meaningful change in Wisconsin and beyond. It is thrilling to see the roster of participants this year–so many great ideas and opportunities for impact. We are honored and humbled to support this group of entrepreneurs and incredibly grateful to our partners at the American Family Institute and Associated Bank for providing resources to make this a reality.” Nora Roughen-Schmidt, Executive Director, Startingblock Madison.

“The Institute is delighted to support this new cohort of social entrepreneurs. We believe in capacity building programs like The Social Impact Cohort that develop and elevate innovative, diverse and solutions-oriented leaders that are driving social impact in our communities .” – Shayna Hetzel, Community & Social Impact Investment Director.

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