The spark for social enterprise in the Panhandle came when the regional older youth system for homeless youth experienced the loss of $700,000 in federal funding due to allocation cutbacks. Rather than turn again to grant funding, the agencies involved saw the need for other methods of sustainable funding to continue the needed services for homeless youth. This idea compelled health and human service organizations, economic development professionals, small business owners, and interested citizens to come together to explore Social Enterprise in Nebraska’s Panhandle. After nearly two years of collaboration, dialogue, planning, and visioning, new resources are being made available to support Social Enterprise and projects for the greater good of the Panhandle.
Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to address a social, environmental and human justice need.
At the heart of this work was the desire to carve a path for the linkage of economic and community development based on common values and vision, as well as:
•Maximize the viability of social enterprise projects
•Include social enterprise within the Panhandle Economic Development continuum
•Encourage businesses to redefine success to be for more-than-profit, to include a positive social and human impact
•Promote opportunity to reduce grant dependency for non–profits
•Encourage more inclusive communities
•Engaged community partners provide a value-add for private foundations investing in the Panhandle through a shared granting or funding process.
•A place for local investors interested in sustainable community development to donate funds.
Generous private investments have made funds available to award out for Social Enterprise and community projects in the Panhandle. The Panhandle Partnership and Panhandle Area Development District (PADD) together with community-based committees will administer these funds and related supports. PADD also received an award from the Peter Kiewit Foundation to support the first year staff, training, and travel to launch this initiative. These investments will accelerate the sound development of the financial, educational, and management supports to grow Social Enterprise in the Panhandle.
Coming Together: Innovations for Economic and Social Change
PADD staff discusses Social Enterprise conference on 1-15-15
What is a Social Enterprise?
Innovations and Investment Fund
The purpose of the Innovations and Investment fund is to support social enterprise businesses or projects. Support could be designated both for standalone social enterprise businesses or existing non-profit ‘spin-off’ initiatives where a program will run like a business to meet a particular mission. Applicants will be expected to plan and research prior to starting up just like any other business and can draw on the support of area partners for education and mentoring on business and social impact best practices. For this first year, cash infusions will be made generally not to exceed $50,000 and 100% match is required. Applications will be received on a rolling basis.
The purpose of Greater Good community grants is to support community efforts to responsibly use, develop and sustain the common wealth of the region. The common wealth is defined as:
Gifts of the natural world and human society that have monetary and non-monetary value in supporting life and well-being for both human and natural communities.
Wealth we inherit or create together, which we desire to pass on, as undiminished and regenerative as possible, to our children and future generations
A sector of the economy that compliments but is also distinct from the market and government sectors
Communal assets that increase or decrease depending on management
Applications for Greater Good grants are received by May 30th and November 30th each year. Funds will be awarded as a one-time cash infusion to generally not exceed $50,000. Awards are made by July 1 and January 1 of each year. To apply, please visit www.panhandlepartnership.com.
Funding support for this effort is broken into two streams: the Innovations and Investment Fund to support Social Enterprise businesses; and the Greater Good Fund to support community projects that are sustainable and beneficial to the whole community.
What are some examples of Social Enterprise?
Check out these social enterprises featured at our 2015 Rural Social Enterprise Conference!