new collaboration aims to support entrepreneurs who focus on social enterprise, sustainability

Three organizations -- LaunchHouseCivic Commons Ideastream and Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) -- have come together as the lead partners in supporting entrepreneurs with ideas to improve their communities.

SEA Change, a Social Enterprise Accelerator, provides up to $50,000 in funding, coaching and connections to eligible candidates trying to make a difference in Cleveland neighborhoods. “We’re funding people who have ideas to improve their communities in a sustainable way,” says Mike Shafarenko, Civic Commons director. “A number of organizations came together last November to discuss how to revive development and support of social enterprises in Northeast Ohio.”
 
Seven other groups are also involved, including JumpStart, Foundation Center Cleveland and Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU). SEA Change is funded by the Business of Good Foundation, the Generation Foundation, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.
 
Shafarenko says SEA Change emerged as the involved organizations saw a need to support the growing number of social enterprises in Cleveland. “We have a tremendous amount of talented, active people in Northeast Ohio who just don’t have the means to execute their ideas,” he explains. “The entrepreneurial spirit needs a little bit of coaching and support to take it to the next level.”
 
Examples of existing successful social enterprises include Edwins Restaurant at Shaker Square, which employs former inmates, Tunnel Vision Hoops, which manufactures and sells hoop houses to extend the growing season, and From the Blue Bag, which converts recyclables into works of art.
 
Sea Change will host training sessions on Friday, June 13 and Friday, July 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The events will provide training, one-on-one consultation and networking to help participants get social enterprise ideas off the ground.

 

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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