Previously incarcerated individuals

Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

In Keith’s latest blog he began a discussion on business models that employs previously incarcerated individuals. This is an area I am also passionate about. I have mentioned before about the urban eco-village project I am part of here in Columbus Ohio. The founder of the Franklinton Homestead, Dr. Hottle, has a real passion for helping those in need, especially previously incarcerated individuals. So part of our project houses and employs folks who have been incarcerated and are now destitute because of the stigma they hold. Most of us are aware of the downward spiral that happens once an individual has become a felon. These folks help us rehab houses that we will eventually turn into co-houses. We are also working on some vocational rehabilitation, helping these individuals start their own handy person businesses. While I am not directly involved in this part of our project, it made me realize something about my neighborhood. There is a large untapped work force here.

I am writing this because I want to support the idea of helping previously incarcerated individuals get back to work. The danger and instability of the large neighborhood I live in comes from the high unemployment rates. I go out and talk with these folks and sometimes they even come into the gardens and ask for work.  From my observation, we need to get these folks to work as a commitment to improving society. I think an unfortunate result of our judicial system is that it has a way of destabilizing our communities by making people ineligible to work. I see firsthand the results of this, which include the creation of very dangerous areas of my city including my neighborhood where people are actually afraid to go outside.  The creation of programs to put these people to work will be the future, and I believe social entrepreneurs have an opportunity to lead the way in this movement.  

Kevin Wilson
MLS in Social Entrepreneurship
PhD Student in Public Administration

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1) Web address for the free social entrepreneurship course, 2) A simple example of for-profit social entrepreneurship

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

1) Web address

Hello, readers. In my last post, I shared some information about my third free online social entrepreneurship course that starts on October 29, 2014. This is a five week course available to anyone anywhere in the world with access to the Internet. For those interested, we have a web site set up to share information about that course, as well as provide a link to register. If you know of anyone who might be interested in this free course, would you please share the following web address with them? Thanks very much.

2) A simple example of for-profit social entrepreneurship

I was in a small manufacturing business in another state a couple months ago, one with around 10 employees. This business manufactures sport fishing boats, and they had some used boats I was looking at. The owner of the business was very friendly, and he asked me my profession, and then what I teach at my university. I told him that my focus is courses that help students start projects to help others in need. His face lit up, and he started to tell me about something he is doing in his business.

He said there have been several people who have been in prison ask him for a job building his boats. He told me he took a chance on one person a while back, and this person has been an exceptional worker. The owner of the business said, “This person didn’t know I knew he had been in prison, and one day I told him that I knew about that, and he could relax and not be afraid I would find out and then fire him. I told this worker that it doesn’t matter to me that you were in prison because you are such a good worker.”

This business owner then went on to tell me that he has hired another person who had been in prison, and that these two men are very appreciative of the opportunity to have a job. The business owner said, “These men seem to have built a very strong commitment to this business, and I have a strong commitment to them because of their high quality of work.”

It seems to me that this small business owner has started a small social entrepreneurship project within his business. He likes helping these men who have difficulty finding a job, he likes the strong commitment they have to his business, and he likes the work they perform.

For-profit businesses sometimes work to help a certain category of people in need, as well as work to make a profit. This social conscience within for-profit businesses to try to help people in need is very special. Although in my work I focus on nonprofit social entrepreneurship, there is a big for-profit world out there also making important contributions.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Free 5 week online course on starting projects to help others – October 29, 2014

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in grant writing, non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 4 comments

Hello, all. Before I share information about a free social entrepreneurship course I am teaching, I want to thank Kevin Wilson for the last few posts on this blog site. Kevin brings an important perspective to this site, and he will continue making frequent contributions. Thanks, Kevin!

Now I would like to share information on the free course I will be teaching. My university (Fort Hays State University) and I are offering our third free course on social entrepreneurship available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. The start date is October 29. Some readers of this blog participated in one of the first two offerings. (Thanks very much.)

I am very pleased with the first two offerings. In the Fall of 2013, we had 844 students from 54 different nations. In the Spring 2014 offering, we had 793 students from 47 different nations. What is most amazing to me is that for the two course offerings, representatives from 71 different nations (more than 36% of the nations in the world) participated. I am pleasantly surprised with the breadth of international interest in this free course.

If you have not yet taken this course, please consider it. Also, if convenient for you, please mention the course to others who might be interested.

Many issues related to social entrepreneurship are discussed, but the core part of the course provides step-by-step suggestions for building your project. Is there a category of people in need you would like to help but have not yet started? If so, this course will provide some useful perspective on how to proceed.

Some social entrepreneurship projects are never organized into a nonprofit format, while others are. In addition, some projects are a part of for-profit ventures. There are several ways of organizing our social entrepreneurship work, and successful careers can be built from either the for-profit or nonprofit approaches.

It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to teach my third free course on social entrepreneurship available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. If you are able to spread the word about this course, I would appreciate that.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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You are an organization? Prove it!

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Recently, I have been doing some volunteer work with a non-profit urban farm here in Columbus. The organization decided to take another opportunity this year and applied for a grant worth $15,000. In order to win the grant money the organization had to get the most votes.   This was after meeting other qualifications as well. All this organization had to do was organize. They had to get the message out and get people to vote. People could sign up to vote or they could do it with their Facebook account. Voters could also vote once a day for 2 weeks. That is all there was to it.

So I felt there was a real message in the way this funder set up the contest. Non-profit organizations ultimately depend on the organizations’ ability to get people involved in what they are doing. I thought this was a great approach for this funder. If an organization can win the votes, there is a good chance they will be able to get the most people involved when they get the money. I really saw this as a challenge. If you think you are an organization, then prove it. If you can prove you can organize the most people to win this then you deserve the $15,000.

So what I would like you take away from this is that when working with or starting an NPO, you need to be able to engage people. You need to get people to help you, often without much compensation except the fact they know they have done something good. Most often, this requires a charismatic leader. You WILL need someone who can connect with the people you are serving and the people who you want help from. This is vital for any successful organization.


Kevin Wilson
MLS Social Entrepreneurship

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Competition in the World of Non-Profits

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in grant writing, non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

Most of you reading this blog come from cultures that encourage competition. Here in the United States, we definitely have a “culture of competition”. We are raised competing in games, sports and grades and when we grow up we enter of world of material competition as well. So it is no surprise that in the non-profit world we find ourselves competing just like in most other situations. We are often trying for the same grants and other resources such as volunteers and other in-kind support.

 What is most interesting is that we are all working on addressing social problems in our community so no matter where the money goes, we know it is going to a good cause.  In this culture of serving society and the greater good, it is disappointing to find this similar, almost unavoidable pattern of competition. Most of us are doing this work to help others, so we don’t think about the ways in which we will still compete with each other.

In response to this, some of the organizations in my community decided to combine our efforts, find projects that we are all doing that are similar, and then create a plan to share the resources between all of us. Most of us in my area are working on community garden building and urban agriculture projects. Some NPOs here are not yet eligible for funding but have plenty of ability to complete a project. Other projects will not get funding because they received it last year. Other projects may get more funding than originally anticipated. Our combined project can help eliminate some of these obstacles that are in the way of helping the community.

 It isn’t as easy as it sounds, but the reason I discuss it here is because I want this concept to encourage you to be creative and innovative. The resources are out there, we just have to come up with new ways of getting them.

Kevin Wilson

MLS Social Entrepreneurship

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Tools for the Future: Innovation, Efficiency, Compassion and Empathy

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in grant writing, non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 2 comments

If someone asked me to list some important things for new social entrepreneurs to know coming into the field I would say innovation and efficiency are two concepts that you should hold close as you evolve through your project or program. We are evolving as a society and our social problems are evolving as well. Being innovative is essential for the success of any entrepreneur, social or otherwise.

 Funding is also getting more competitive, with less money available, so efficiency is also vital for the success of an organization. Not-for-profits are still businesses and all successful businesses work to be as efficient as possible. These are both important and vital concepts that I took away from the social entrepreneurship program and experienced firsthand in the field.

Speaking on a different level, compassion and empathy are also concepts you should cultivate as you complete a program or begin an enterprise. If you choose to work out in the field, addressing social problems, your compassion and empathy may be testing as you struggle to understand why people seem to make poor decisions that keep them in a cycle of crime and poverty. Having compassion and empathy will TRULY ALLOW YOU TO UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE ARE LIVING THE WAY THEY DO. This is essential for all successful social entrepreneurs in my opinion.  I live in a small eco-village type community aspiring to address social problems in the worst part of my city. This crime plagued urban- Appalachian ghetto has been a perfect example for me when thinking about the Culture of Poverty concept. There is a distinct culture here that has developed as people migrated from the Appalachian Mountains into this dense urban area. Compassion and empathy lead to a lack of judgment and without judgment, I have been able to discover for myself the fascinating evolution of these people. I have been able to see why things are happening the way they do, and this is necessary if one wants to address the issues.

I encourage you to keep all of this in mind as you go forward with your studies or your project. I have seen NPOs struggle because they did not take these aspects of social entrepreneurism into account.

Kevin Wilson
 MLS Social Entrepreneurship

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My introduction (Kevin Wilson)

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

My name is Kevin and I am a graduate of Fort Hays State University.  I recently received my Masters of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship.  I also have a BA in Sociology from Fort Hays State University. Dr. Campbell was first my professor, then my advisor and ultimately my mentor as I completed my Master’s program. Currently I am working on my passion, which is the Food Sovereignty Movement of Indigenous People living on American Indian Reservations. My project is still in its infancy and going through all the natural growing pains any social enterprise will face. I plan to begin my PhD program in the fall in Non-profit Leadership and Management. I have been fortunate to be out in the field for the last several years putting my academic studies to work and I would like to be able to share my experience with the readers of this blog.

I am also a member of an aspiring eco-community in the poorest part of Columbus, Ohio known as the Franklinton Homestead. We do organic gardening, permaculture, cultivate a variety of medicinal plants and do community outreach through civic agriculture and other forms of social activism.  We are also involved with Franklinton Gardens, an impressive urban farm here in our neighborhood. I love helping others and here in Franklinton, my neighborhood, there are plenty of people that need help. The social ills of society are intensified in this urban-Appalachian ghetto due to years of flooding and a ban from the Army Corps of Engineers from building new residencies. This lead to rapid urban decay that now is home to slum lords, blatant drug dealing, prostitution and homelessness that would surprise most people even in my city! Once known as the “Bottoms” my neighborhood sits below the level of the major river which goes through downtown. Only after the floodwall was built has the area begun to see new life. In the future it is my hope to combine my work here with the work I would like to do supporting the food sovereignty movement for indigenous people living on reservations. The community I currently live in parallels the struggles of indigenous people in many ways.

I look forward to sharing and learning with you all.     – Kevin

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