Funding available for social entrepreneurship projects

By Lennox Farrell Wednesday October 09 2013 in Opinion
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Talk is one thing, action another. Or as the saying goes, ‘fish or cut bait’.


Hopefully, some of our institutions best positioned in terms of social and material resources would take a greater lead in defending our youth and their future. Hopefully, here too, as have some in the U.S., some like our churches, would mobilize memberships and clout to actions defending justice.


In the meantime, have actions taken in the past and present for the betterment of our communities come primarily from those among us, as institutions and individuals best positioned to do so? Where, for example, were our religious and political leaders when the Black Action Defence Committee (BADC), an outcast body, led by radicals like Dudley and Charlie; by Sherona, Akua and Brother Jack, took the lead to protect our youth, thereby forcing a 1980s Ontario provincial government to form the Special Investigative Unit (SIU)?


If the past remains prologue, it will more than likely again take organizations with less resources to take the leadership, for example, those assisting to rehabilitate youth formerly incarcerated; those assisting to grow our boys and girls into wholesome men and women; those as educators battling the soulless expectations of Ontario’s education to incarceration industry.


There is also a need for those with legal, accounting and finance skills to assist in guiding, advising and linking these community organizations with corporate funding/funders in Canada, Ontario and Toronto.


However, the news is better than good. Even a cursory search on the Internet finds several public and private sector possibilities for these linkages. Some of these sectors are official and some unofficial. Some provide funding. Some provide one-time grants. As in every search, one’s efforts, preparation and focus will yield results to match. However, even a search will show what is, and is not feasible.


Since none of the following was informed in advance, even with their contact numbers publicly available, for the sake of courtesy, and productive interaction, any contact must still involve some introduction and explaining. The least any sector can do, if they cannot assist, might be to indicate where advice and even assistance based on expectation is more likely available.


Among the best contacts might be those listed under headings like: “The School For Social Entrepreneurs In Ontario; OnWin Entrepreneur Training; Social Entrepreneurship Examples and Case Studies; and Compassion In Politics: Christian Social Entrepreneurship.”


Most are based in Ontario, but also include national, continental and international links. The point is that one is faced with a glut of information in which the primary task and responsibility is to have some clear idea of what one is about, and/or in which direction one eventually wishes to go. In other words, one is faced not with a famine for information, but with a feast of opportunities.


However, for the sake of being prudent, anyone might best begin in the areas where one can obtain a useful understanding of the legal and other official parameters within which to operate; and how these parameters can assist in reaching one’s goals; using entrepreneurship skills and funding to reach socially uplifting and redeeming goals.


Grouped together are those that are advertised to provide assistance and advice for general purposes. These include, by official title, Grants for Social Enterprise; Social Entrepreneurship Grants; Social Enterprise Funding; Social Funding Sites; Entrepreneurship Grants and Funds, etc. One of the most explicit and specific is “Get Funding for Your Project”.


Regardless of how these are advertised, and the information they seek on contact (in some instances all, or some of the following: name, phone number, address, email address), all may or may not be fully altruistic. However, initial contacts should allow one to determine who is who and which one is best to deal with. However, these are all expected to operate under clearly established, official guidelines.


Being a teacher retired, but at heart still a teacher, I would first consider any that has options for education. For example, the ‘Ministry of Economic Development’ offers, or offered, training for ‘Students and Young Entrepreneurs’. It would be useful to consider other ministries, too, for such activities, especially regarding training programs linking youth with community development.


Best of all would be, in my opinion, enterprises which lead away from communal dependence and towards communal independence. One foundation that is all inclusive to all youth is the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. According to its website intro, it ‘provides unparalleled platforms at the regional and global level to highlight and advance leading models of sustainable social innovation. It identifies a select community of social entrepreneurs and engages it in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that improve the state of the world in close collaboration with the other stakeholders of the World Economic Forum’.


Finally, another of these organizations which caught my attention is in a report from Stanford University. In its 10th Anniversary issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, November 2013, its lead article is titled: ‘Teaching The Key Skills Of Successful Social Entrepreneurs’. It details the mental skills and psychological buttressing necessary for developing successful youth and self-reliant communities for today, and even more so, for tomorrow.


Can we risk failing our progeny? Have our ancestors failed theirs?


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