Who are some of the most inspiring social entrepreneurs you’ve worked with?
Jamey: We have been incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to support so many inspiring social entrepreneurs—and I think all of the organizations we’ve had join our programs are inspiring, both in the work they do and in their vision to think differently about how to make the world better. A few that stick in my head: Steve Wanta and the team at Just Community provide financial capital, build community and offer peer coaching to Latina women who are working to build a business or build their credit. They’re incredible, and they were a finalist for the $10 million Lone Star Prize. Taylor Willis and Vanessa Barker founded The Welman Project to build on their love for creative reuse, taking surplus corporate office items, figuring out how they might be used in an educational context, and then getting those items into the hands of teachers at no cost, all of which reduces waste and reduces the burden put on teachers to buy their own materials. Finally, one of our current Social Innovation Accelerator Fellows is Cece Rockwell from BT Foundry, a nonprofit that provides training and apprenticeships in marketing and advertising, with a focus on individuals from historically marginalized communities. I was also incredibly inspired by the applications we received for our new Social Innovation Incubator, and I can’t wait to get to know our first cohort of 20 social entrepreneurs.
Alexis: I would agree with Jamey that all the organizations we have had a chance to work with are inspiring, as we have seen a wide array of social impact organizations come through our programming. I am constantly inspired by the missions and passion displayed by the humble leaders who desire to make a difference in the lives of others. A few names to look out for, [before we] announce our cohort of Social Innovation Incubator participants: MEE, where Sarah Robertson has co-founded a program to educate and empower youth to explore career paths and set intentional goals through diverse experiences in their local cities. TMJ Dance Project, where Terrance Johnson is on a mission to create cultural dance experiences that promote community outreach, art in education, affordable dance training and the experience of live dance performances to historically underserved communities. Last but certainly not least, Feed Oak Cliff is a part of this year’s Social Innovation Accelerator, where founder Anga Sanders has worked tirelessly to address the food desert that sweeps Southern Dallas by creating a plan to build a community-run grocery store that will fuel, feed and fight the negative health outcomes that are a direct result of lack of access to fresh produce and healthy food options in the Southern sector.