Past Acara Fellows

Previous Acara fellowships included the following:

Eat for Equity 

Emily Torgrimson created Eat for Equity to build a culture of generosity through sustainable community feasts that raise money for non-profit causes. There are 10 chapters around the US. Visit their website, or learn more from the Star Tribune feature story.

Mighty Axe Hops

Mighty Axe Hops provides Minnesota craft breweries with rare, local, and organic hops.  Mighty Axe Hops, started by Eric Sannurud and Ben Boo, was a semifinalist in the 2014 MN Cup, and recently secured funding and land for company expansion to 80 acres. Connect with Mighty Axe Hops on Facebook. Mighty news: Minnesota Business June 2016, The Growler MagazineSocial Entrepreneur Podcast with Tony Loyd.

Siobhan Powers

Patricia Columbus-Powers started this high-end Native American fashion house that allows consumers to represent Native American success and contribute to empowering Native American designers to end cultural appropriation of Native American culture in fashion, provide employment to Native American felons, and promote healing and self-expression through art. Patricia was featured in the Minnesota Alumni Magazine.

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Simon Cecil & Adam Rao founded Minnesota Freedom Fund, which pays bail for low-income individuals and connects them with legal support, helping them reconnect with their jobs, homes and families. It seeks to cast light on inequities in the legal system and ensure that no one is stuck in jail for the crime of being poor. Read the Star Tribune article here.

Pure Paani

Chris Bulkley-Logston and Kaylea Brase founded Pure Paani, which provides portable, hand-operated water filtration devices to a network of micro-entrepreneurs living in communities in which potable water access is minimal. Pure Paani plans on initiating a pilot study, which involves testing the effectiveness of the filter, gathering customer feedback, developing a product assembly procedure and assessing the business model.

SMS Maama

Sonja Ausen-Anifrani, Katelyn Pastick & Meg KenKnight Burman founded SMS Maama, a text messaging service for pregnant women in Uganda. Women receive informational and interactive screening texts and are connected with a midwife should follow-up be indicated. Connect via their website or Facebook page. Read more from the School of Public Health here, listen to Sonja’s interview on the Social Entrepreneur podcast here.


MyRain is improving water use in India by selling drip irrigation kits to subsistence farmers through an affordable lease-to-own program. MyRain was one of 17 chosen from 520 applicants in 90 countries to receive a Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge Development award. MyRain is supported by USAID under the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) program, learn more here. Founder Steele Lorenz was interviewed by Tony Loyd on his podcast, Social Entrepreneur – listen here.

Beekeeping and Honey Networking in India

Erin Kayser utilized her background as a beekeeper to help Last Forest Enterprises connect with local honey sources to bring sustainable, organic and fair trade honey from farmers to consumers and other organizations.  She also studied hive management and how it can help successfully increase a farmer’s income.

Bringing Healthcare to Remote India

Robin Walz worked with the SELCO foundation to assess local health-care infrastructure and identify ways in which the organization could improve access to quality health care for remote locations in India. His work involved studying the health-care system, visiting health centers and health professionals, and researching health-care technology innovations from around the world.

Ova Woman: Supporting Women’s Intimate Health

Elise Maxwell started her company, Ova Woman, with the vision of promoting the use of menstrual cups for local women and the support of Acara. Now, her company supports a variety of women’s intimate health initiatives through education, e-commerce and building a customer community. Connect on Facebook.