Resources

Learn more about impact entrepreneurship

For a good introduction to impact entrepreneurship, check out this short list of books and articles we recommend in Acara classes. The nonprofit Acumen also provides excellent information and research that can be a helpful resource for a budding venture.  In addition, here are some useful tools and resources:

  • The Entrepreneur Impact Program is committed to helping early-stage hardware startups and entrepreneurs in the social, cleantech, and environmental sectors get to market faster. To join, your business should be less than 5 years old, have fewer than 10 employees, and have less than $1M USD in annual revenue. Apply and get up to $150,000 in free Autodesk software that will help you design, visualize, and stimulate your ideas.
  • Visit Idealist and find volunteer opportunities, nonprofit jobs, internships, and organizations working to change the world.
  • Read IDEO’s “Field Guide to Human-Centered Design” for ideas on how design can work for the social sector. This free download includes design methods, case studies, worksheets and more to help with brainstorming, prototyping and building solutions.
  • The MaRS Entrepreneurs’ Toolkit offers information for groups ready to plan for and execute a business launch. The Entrepreneurship 101 toolkit is particularly useful.
  • Explore REDF Workshop for information on employment social enterprises including how to use the model in your organization, how to invest in or support companies already using it, and how to analyze the impact of employment social enterprises.
  • seToolbelt provides a searchable database filled with open-content forms, worksheets, and articles for social enterprises to use in development, launch, and growth.
  • Social Enterprise Canada is a comprehensive toolkit with interactive worksheets, articles and more. Valuable information includes learning about social enterprise, how to plan a social enterprise, and management/assessment of a social enterprise. This resource is especially helpful for those looking to start their social enterprise in Canada.
  • Read the Startup Playbook by Sam Altman for a fun, informative look at what makes a great startup. This resource also includes information mentors use to guide their mentees’ growing businesses.
  • Sustainability Degrees provides a step-by-step informational guide for students who are interested in getting  involved in sustainability. The guide has information about upcoming events around the U.S. and on how to start your own sustainability project.
  • Explore Ultd, an all-in-one toolkit with plenty of resources for all stages of social enterprise business.  Their entrepreneurship matrix offers background readings, introductory course modules, and much more.

Looking for guidance on creating a startup or pursuing social entrepreneurship? Explore these programs offering education, networking, opportunities and support:

  • Acterra’s Business Environmental Award goals include celebrating the accomplishments of businesses with innovative sustainable programs, recognizing leaders in the industry, and providing an educational forum that increases awareness and motivates all companies to adopt sustainable business practices.
  • American Planning Association Awards for Excellence in Sustainability 2016 awards categories include development projects, building projects, park projects, policy and law projects, transportation projects, and leadership projects.
  • American Public Power Association DEED Project provides up to $5,000 for projects of interest to electric utilities and up to $3,000 for travel expenses to present project results at the Annual APPA Conference. Applications close in February and October.
  • AURI – Institute that helps develop new uses for agricultural products through partnering with businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • BestPrep – Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that provides educational programs to students in grades 4-12.
  • Beta.mn  – Beta.MN connects entrepreneurs with resources like future users, investors, employees and advisers. Beta.MN is an organization of friends & founders gathering together to support Minnesota’s startup community.
  • B-TAP –  The Business Technical Assistance Program or B-TAP program was created to provide consulting support to businesses located in the City of Minneapolis. Through B-TAP, the City contracts with local non-profit organizations focused on entrepreneur training and economic development to provide direct services to new and existing businesses.
  • Bunker Labs – Supports military veterans throughout the journey of starting a business: from the idea stage—where active-duty service members are thinking about what to do post-service—to the growth stage of successful companies looking to hire, raise capital, and expand into new markets.
  • The Bush Fellowship provides a flexible grant of up to $100,000 to help individuals develop and strengthen their leadership in making a positive impact on their community.
  • CGI University supports “Commitment to Action” plans developed by individuals or groups. University of Minnesota students can attend conferences and submit plans. Applications close in October.
  • CIEE Grants and Scholarships are directed toward students in a wide range of fields who are conducting their research, volunteerism or studies internationally.  Each grant/scholarship averages about $2,500. Applications close in April and November.
  • Clinton Global Initiative works to improve health care, increase opportunities for women, create economic opportunity and growth, address issues of climate change, and more.
  • Competitions Archi provides an archive of information about many upcoming challenges and competitions in different countries.
  • The Consortium on Law and Values provides funding for intramural projects related to the societal implications of problems in health, environment, and the life sciences. Grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded to UMN graduate and professional students for work during the summer of 2018 and academic year 2018-19.  Proposals are due in February.
  • Davis Putter Scholarship supports students working toward social and economic justice. The scholarship provides up to $10,000 per year. Plans that serve the U.S. are preferred, though international work is also considered. Applications close in April.
  • Designing for Social Innovation and Leadership (DSIL) offers coursework that combines online learning, field immersion, and human centered design to teach development of programs that make an impact.
  • Echoing Green provides up to $90,000 in fellowships to help emerging leaders solve the world’s biggest problems. Applications close in November.
  • E-Fest at the University of St Thomas is a 3 day celebration of undergraduate entrepreneurship culminating in the Schulze Entrepreneurship Challenge where students have the chance to compete for over 250,000 in cash prizes. Travel and lodging assistance is also available for out of state students.
  • Ella Lyman Cabot Trust Grant supports the development of individuals and their charitable, religious, artistic, educational and scientific projects with grants in the range of $15,000–$25,000.  Applications close in April and November.
  • Energy Globe has been deemed one of the world’s most prestigious award for sustainability. Grand prize is €10,000 euros.
  • Entrepreneur Fund – The Entrepreneur Fund actively partners with entrepreneurs to stimulate the growth of successful businesses. Their service area includes Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis Counties in Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin.
  • gBETA St. Cloud – gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots. Each program is capped at five teams, and requires no fees and no equity.
  • gener8tor is a concierge accelerator that connects startups, entrepreneurs, artists, investors, universities and corporations.
  • Great North Labs Startup School – Learn how to research, build and launch business ideas in a collaborative environment through practical, real-world projects.
  • Grow North – A resource and connection hub for Minnesota’s food and agriculture entrepreneur ecosystem.
  • Hack the Gap – Hack the Gap is the natural next step for elevating the amazing local community of technical women in Minnesota. We are a strong community of technical women ready to work, build, collaborate and shine.
  • Halcyon Incubator invites individuals over the age of 21 with a social venture idea to spend 6 – 18 months in Washington, D.C. working full-time on their social venture. Access to housing, office space, mentors and advising, and more is provided as well as numerous networking and audience-building opportunities.
  • IDEX Accelerator and Global Fellows Program mission is to develop the next ‘social intrapreneur’ leaders to build up economies and strengthen communities around the world. In this six months program, fellows gain hands-on experience in Bangalore working for a variety of social enterprises across India to address society’s most pressing problems.
  • Impact Hub – Helps accelerate social innovation through their locally rooted and globally connected network.
  • Impact Iglu is a business competition that takes place in May. Register your idea for solving a societal challenge and be part of the weekend conference that takes place in Helsinki.
  • The Initiators Fellowship Program provides the opportunity for the next generation of change-makers to use their entrepreneurship skills to address social change in Greater Minnesota.
  • Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowship is available to graduated students from a wide range of backgrounds who would like to fully immerse themselves in an international project. Applications close in March and September.
  • Institute for Entrepreneurship and Social Impact is offered at George Mason University near Washington, D.C. This program welcomes students from around the world to participate in a three-week certificate program for social enterprising during July. Students learn how to identify problems, develop solutions and create strategic plans for projects they are passionate about.
  • The James Dyson Award  is open to submissions in late March annually. They reward socially conscious, innovative undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent graduates for developing meaningful solutions to real world problems. The internationally winner is awarded $40,000 USD.
  • Full-time University of Minnesota junior level or rising seniors enrolled in a degree-granting program are welcome to apply for the Johnson Brothers Scholarship. This $5,000 scholarship is provided to students with strong academic records, demonstrated financial need, and commitment to entrepreneurial initiatives. Applications are accepted in the spring and are distributed during the following academic year.
  • Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest – JA’s Mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. They offer a number of programs and educational opportunities.
  • Latino Economic Development Center  – The Latino Economic Development Center is a statewide membership-based nonprofit organization that works to establish, stabilize, and expand businesses through orientations, classes, development consulting, technical assistance, and access to capital for new and existing entrepreneurs.
  • Leadership Exchange is a two- to four-week summer program offering courses, workshops, leadership activities, community service and cultural activities at sites in Prague, Raleigh and Rome. While there, students learn about social entrepreneurship and can complete a social entrepreneurship certificate.
  • Lunar Startups is a startup incubator that specializes in growth, connection, and innovation for women, people of color, and other high potential entrepreneurs.
  • Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator – Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator provides infrastructure that enables entrepreneurism for the Rochester community.
  • MEDA – MEDA provides one-on-one business consulting, access to capital, and connections to market opportunities for minority entrepreneurs in Minnesota.
  • MHTA  – MHTA, or the Minnesota High Tech Association, is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota’s prosperity. They help bring together the people of Minnesota’s technology ecosystem and lead the charge in directing technology issues.
  • Minnesota Association of Development Organization –  A network of Regional Development Organizations designated by the United States Department of Commerce.
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture – The MDA’s mission is to enhance Minnesotans’ quality of life by ensuring the integrity of our food supply, the health of our environment, and the strength of our agricultural economy. They offer a number of programs & resources to support Minnesota entrepreneurs.
  • Minnesota Employment and Economic Development– The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is the state’s principal economic development agency. DEED programs promote business recruitment, expansion, and retention; international trade; workforce development; and community development.
  • Minnesota Innovation Corps (MIN-Corps) – MIN-Corps is the University of Minnesota site for the National Innovation Corps. MIN Corps is part of an NSF initiative to expand STEM students’ and scientists’ skill set out of the laboratory to translate their discoveries into the commercial world.
  • The Minnesota International NGO Network (MINN) is a forum for international practitioners and supporters to learn, network and exchange professional expertise.
  • MN – A Minnesota organization that offers mentorship and challenges to middle and high school girls interested in learning to code.
  • MN Central Region Small Business Development Center (St. Cloud) – provides the professional expertise and guidance that every small business needs to flourish in today’s competitive and ever-changing business world regardless of what stage they are at in their development.
  • MOJO Minnesota  – MOJO Minnesota is an innovation co-operative comprised of like-minded business leaders working to fuel entrepreneurship and reignite Minnesota’s culture of innovation.
  • The Moving Worlds Institute is an immersive six-month Global Fellowship program that empowers mid-career professionals to make a positive impact with their career.
  • The National Association of Women Business Owner’s Minnesota chapter (NAWBO – MN) – provides a local avenue for women entrepreneurs to connect with their peers.
  • NDC – Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) is a non-profit, community development financial institution. We provide integrated business services so that entrepreneurs can start and grow businesses that enrich their economic and social fabric.
  • Neon – We expand economic development opportunities and build wealth for low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis and surrounding communities.
  • North Central MN Small Business Development Center (Brainerd) – provides assistance to small businesses in order to increase the number of new business start-ups, expand existing small businesses, and reduce the number of small business failures.
  • Northeast MN Small Business Development Center (Duluth) – provides the professional expertise and guidance that every small business needs to flourish in today’s competitive and ever-changing business world regardless of what stage they are at in their development.
  • Find mentoring opportunities at SCORE MN – where experienced Minnesota business leaders volunteer to support small business owners.
  • Small Business Development Council – A statewide network of centers that provide professional expertise and guidance to small business owners.
  • Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) Twin Cities supports financially sustainable social innovation through member driven networking, mentoring, partnerships and impact legislation.
  • Social Venture Partners provides investment funding to nonprofit organizations to increase their social and environmental impact, and brings together donors, nonprofits and social enterprises to make a collective impact.
  • South Central MN Small Business Development Center (Mankato)-offers no-cost, customized consulting to businesses throughout their entire life cycle, from the excitement of the idea stage and the thrill of the launch to the challenges of growth periods and distressed times.
  • Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation – Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is a donor-supported economic development foundation serving the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota.
  • Southwest MN Small Business Development Center (Marshall) – provides consulting, training and research to assist small businesses to start, grow and transition
  • Student Unions & Activities Grants are available for registered student groups at the University of Minnesota. Eligibility requirements vary; applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Calling all for-profit tech start-ups that help tackle climate change and provide food and water sustainably: Techstars Sustainability Accelerator, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, continues with its second accelerator class this summer in Denver, Colorado. Ten start-ups will be selected for the acceleration program, and will each receive seed funding up to $120k, plus exposure to TNC’s global footprint of programs, projects and partners, and Techstars’ extensive network of 10,000+ mentors. Applications are open now through April 7th, and the program begins July 29th, 2019.
  • Thinkable is a community of world-class researchers from the top universities and institutions, use it to source and fund breakthrough research in any field.
  • Tiwahe Foundation provides the American Indian Family Empowerment Program Fund for individuals pursuing or planning a program that furthers culture, community, and the fulfillment of potential.
  • Twin Cities Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – provides free business consulting to established businesses and startups in the 7 county metro area. Interested candidates can apply for services on their website
  • Unilever’s Sustainable Living Entrepreneurs Awards rewards seven stellar entrepreneurs a total of more than $272,000 in financial support, in addition to mentoring, to help scale their services or applications.
  • Venn Foundation uses Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support organizations across all sectors that are advancing charitable purposes.
  • VentureWell supports technology-based projects that take new product or service ideas from universities and bring them to the marketplace!  Selected teams will receive up to $25,000 to work on their projects and attend VentureWell workshops.  Applications close in October, January, and May.
  • WE*– WE* is a group of dedicated and passionate women entrepreneurs, investors, and community leaders who have come together to support women developing scalable ideas and startups in Minnesota.
  • Women Who Code TC – Women Who Code Twin Cities meets monthly in various locations across the Twin Cities metro area. Our workshops are open to technologists of all levels, from complete beginners to seasoned professionals.
  • Women Venture – A Women’s Business Center as designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). We help women start and grow profitable and sustainable businesses. We train entrepreneurs, advise businesses, provide loans, and create jobs.