StartingBlock, in partnership with the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and Greenbush Strategy Partners, has selected eight social impact entrepreneur teams for StartingBlock’s Social Impact Initiative.

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

“StartingBlock’s Social Impact Initiative builds upon the great work done by many others, including the UW, the City and our community generally,” said Chandra Miller Fienen, StartingBlock’s Executive Director.  

StartingBlock’s Give Back Team Leader, Lauren Yang, who has spearheaded the project added: “We are excited to play our part to continue to support and provide resources to these aspiring social impact entrepreneurs and projects.”

The eight teams, consist of a combination of both for-profit and non-profit entities including three alums from gener8tor’s first social impact accelerator and several associated with UW-Madison, are as follows:

Collaborative Science Environment (CoSE): CoSE’s crowd-sourcing platform puts real cutting-edge research experiments into high school and undergraduate classrooms.  A graduate of gBETA’s first social impact accelerator, CoSE has secured NASA partnerships and is the winner of Education Startup Weekend 2018.

Fair Opportunity Project: A graduate of gBETA’s first social impact accelerator, the Fair Opportunity Project empowers students to access and afford college through its digital portal of curated, comprehensive resources.  Since its founding in 2016, the Fair Opportunity Project has provided their resources to 64,000 guidance counselors, representing every high school in America, in addition to students in 204 countries.

Just Bakery, a Madison-area Urban Ministry project (MUM): An established local nonprofit, MUM launched Just Bakery in 2014, which provides a 12-week vocational training program for individuals with a conviction history.  Last year, Just Bakery had over $200,000 in revenue and over 70% of participants obtained employment after completing the program. MUM is looking to expand and build on this success.

NovoMoto: Founded by UW-Madison students, NovoMoto provides clean electricity for off-grid communities in sub-Saharan Africa through rent-to-own solar-powered systems.   

Farm to Facts: An early-stage project spinning out of UW-Madison, Farm to Facts’ platform captures the economic and non-economic value of local food systems, specifically the 10,000 and growing farmers markets.

Sidekick Education: A graduate of gBETA’s social impact cohort, SideKick Education uses artificial intelligence to build internships into high school classrooms that develop STEM skills and build relationships to access the six million unfilled STEM jobs.

Sustain Dane: An established local nonprofit organization, Sustain Dane seeks to use the SII resources to develop a sustainable business model for its fee-for-service MPower Business Champions Program.

WiFi WiFi Madison, in partnership with 5NINES, seeks to bring affordable, reliable internet to Madison’s underserved and low-income communities.  

As part of the Social Impact Initiative, teams receive free space at StartingBlock for six months as well as customized programming and support by StartingBlock and project’s partners, Greenbush Strategy Partners, and American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

“When you put motivated change leaders together in an innovative space, good things happen,” said Chris Menden, CEO of Greenbush Strategy Partners.

StartingBlock’s Social Impact Initiative is made possible through additional support from Associated Bank, Madison Community Foundation and Alliant Energy.  

About StartingBlock

StartingBlock creates intersections that cultivate entrepreneurs, build innovative companies and drive ideas into reality. As an entrepreneurial hub, StartingBlock helps entrepreneurs find a collaborative innovation community to launch great companies, accelerate their growth and foster innovation. 50,000 square feet of flexible office space houses a vibrant ecosystem of startups, support, resources, connections, mentors and programming. Learn more at  

About the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

The Institute invests in emerging organizations that make a measurable difference in people’s lives, helping to achieve equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities for everyone. Specifically, the Institute launched Oct. 3, 2018 and will focus its efforts in K-12 education, economic opportunity for all, and resilient communities.

About Greenbush Strategy Partners

An unreasonable pursuit of systemic social change is the driving force behind Greenbush Strategy Partners. Taking a hands-on approach, Greenbush identifies strategies and resources to combat any challenge holding change leaders back from achieving their true potential. The Greenbush Network™ connects industry and community leaders to projects, creating sustainable, resilient, and innovative social enterprises. Learn more at

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