Applications now being accepted for early-stage social entrepreneurs with bold ideas for sustainable businesses with positive impact.
MINNEAPOLIS, April 3, 2023 – FINNOVATION Institute, the nonprofit arm of FINNOVATION Lab, announced today that applications are open for the sixth consecutive immersive Fellowship Program, which helps early-stage impact entrepreneurs build leadership and business acumen as they develop innovative social business models. Up to nine fellows will join a growing community of local business leaders creating lasting impact in their communities.
Program curriculum focuses on leadership development, business strategy, and creating financially sustainable business models with a clear social impact. Each fellow will receive a $50,000 living stipend, $3,000 health care stipend, access to an ecosystem of advisors and mentors, and dedicated workspace in the FINNOVATION Lab in downtown Minneapolis.
“This is an opportunity for budding leaders to refine their skills and grow ideas into mission-driven businesses, while we take care of their living expenses. What’s more, this network provides meaningful support and connections along the way” said Connie Rutledge, CEO at FINNOVATION Institute. “Ideal candidates are lifelong learners and problem solvers who are passionate about applying the tools of business to create a lasting, scalable social or environmental impact.”
Applicants should have a strong tie to Minnesota, a growth mindset, a deep understanding of a social or environmental issue they want to solve, and an idea or method to tackle the issue through entrepreneurship. All areas of impact are welcome. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to build their business in a community of like-minded, mission-driven peers and experienced mentors. The Fellowship Program has fostered an impressive ecosystem of sustainable social impact businesses.
Of the 31 fellows in cohorts 1-4, well over half continue to build the businesses they developed during the Fellowship Program. An additional 20% have taken leadership positions related to social impact, innovation, and entrepreneurial support. A few alumni highlights include:
- Junita Flowers (Cohort 1): Founder of Junita’s Jar, a mission-driven cookie company carried in Target stores nationwide, and a featured BIPOC brand in February 2023. Cookie purchases support creative approaches to ending relationship violence.
- Shaunie Grigsby (Cohort 2): Opened Flava Café, becoming the second Black-owned coffee shop in the Twin Cities. With a mission to build job skills and confidence in young women of color and non-binary people, Flava supplies St. Paul with delicious coffee and future leaders. Shaunie is recognized by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as a 2023 Women in Business honoree.
- Marlee (Dorsey) James (Cohort 3): Founder of Reviving Roots Therapy & Wellness, a Black-centered wellness center expected to open in Minneapolis this year.
- Ashleyn Przedwiecki (Cohort 4): Founder of LUUM Collective, a sustainable event design agency launched in 2022. LUUM has brought together hundreds of wedding and event professionals at educational events, built an online directory of audited vendors, and developed a food recovery program for venues and caterers.
- Jennifer Glickstein (Cohort 5): Founder of Dress Up to Calm Down, which has launched pre-orders for a new line of weighted clothing for children with sensory disorder and anxiety.
“Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs can make a huge impact through business. We’re helping them to lead the way.” said Jacquie Berglund, founder of FINNEGANS Brew Co. and FINNOVATION Lab. “The Fellowship Program was founded with the goal of harnessing entrepreneurial spirit, providing educational opportunities to build practical skills and logistics, and turning ideas into functioning businesses. It’s been incredible to see our fellows succeed – and the next cohort will add even more ingenuity to this evolving community.”
Applications will be accepted through May 14 and the program runs September 2023 through June 2024. The sixth cohort will be selected by a group of community leaders and alumni of the Fellowship Program. The program is operated by the FINNOVATION Institute, a 501c3 funded by a grant from the Bush Foundation, which is known for its commitment to innovation and creative problem-solving.
Interested applicants are encouraged to attend one of the following information sessions and the FINNale event to learn more:
April 14 – 12-1 p.m. | Virtual
April 25 – 5:-7 p.m | In Person
May 8 – 12-1 p.m. | Virtual
June 15 – 5-7 p.m.| In Person
More details about FINNOVATION Lab and the Institute’s Fellowship Program, including application information, eligibility requirements and frequently asked questions, are available at
About FINNOVATION Institute
FINNOVATION Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to building a vibrant and inclusive community of successful social businesses in the Twin Cities that generates meaningful social and economic impact in our region and beyond, by providing a variety of educational programs to entrepreneurs and social business leaders. Housed at FINNOVATION Lab, an inclusive workspace and community inspiring social change, growth, innovation, and experimentation. For more information, visit www.finnovationinstitute.org.