I grew up poor in a very dangerous neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. But at 12 years old, my life was changed by the Boys' Club of New York (BCNY) - a nonprofit in NYC that provides constructive activities and opportunities for at-risk youth in NYC. Because of BCNY, I was eventually accepted into a private boarding high school, was awarded scholarships to Boston College, and obtained my first job at Brown Brothers Harriman - the oldest US private investment bank.
My personal path was positively changed by BCNY, so I've dedicated my life to creating social impact through entrepreneurship.
This is such an inspiring mission and organizational model Racquel.
I think you should also apply to programs like https://www.camelbackventures.org/. I'm a mentor at Camelback Ventures and could help with an intro, whenever you're ready. As soon as 1MMOW can afford it, I'd highly recommend that you also hire/contract a grant writer so that you can apply for more grant opportunities and obtain the funding/resources that'll help 1MMOW grow.
Nonetheless, I love how you've structured your organization to seek contracts with gov't agencies adn public housing authorities. So long as you have legit business income coming in, 1MMOW can both encourage financial independence with its residents, as well as demonstrate that through the organization's contracts. (i.e. you "walk the walk & talk the talk"....so cool). Becoming certified as an MWBE should also help with getting you large city, state and federal contracts for your work with public housing communities. Indeed I haven't seen other organization that do this type of work, so your uniqueness is a strength.
Good luck! I hope you're awarded as an Ashoka Changemaker grant winner as well.
Thanks Racquel! Dollar vans are so fascinating, right?? I've grown up taking them, having lived in brooklyn and queens just like you. As a passenger, I loved riding them because they are super quick, cheaper than the subway/but and ALWAYS seem to be available. Living in queens, I couldn't have maintained my first job on Wall street, if it wasn't for being able to rely on the dollar vans each morning.
After seeing dollar vans pop up in communities/cities outside of NYC, I knew there was a growing market for this service...hidden in plain sight :)
Over the last couple years, I discovered that what's most fascinating about the vans is the economics between the drivers and operators. These folks actually create tons of jobs and deliver a valuable service in communities where there are serious economic challenges. So I just fell in love with the impact and growth potential that informal transit networks like dollar vans have.
I'm totally committed to this for the long haul, so your comment is definitely encouraging :) Thank you!
I love this idea and have actually heard of http://HBCU.vc before! Shout to Social Good Fund ;)
"Train-the-trainer" is a great strategy for scaling your operation and market reach without increasing overhead. By focusing on HBCUs and HSI's, I think your potential for impact is huge since those organizations have 300K+ students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Executing a business development strategy that consistently brings you consistent income is the tough part, but you can get there in many ways. For example, sponsored conference events and training programs to the schools can do it. Grants from (community) foundations (i.e. Silicon Valley Community Foundation) may be worth researching and applying to.
HBCUvc seems to also address the diversity pipeline issue (as well as economic empowerment through financial inclusion). In which case, selling a "product" to accelerators, VCs, and angel groups that help them get access to more diverse candidates (i.e. employees, founders, etc) could provide another revenue stream to sustain your core operation.
You may also want to checkout Village Capital's model, where their social entrepreneurs award the $50K cohort investment to a participant of choice. Which is a smart way to attract a ton of applicants, but use a community-driven approach to investing in only the 1-2 participants per cohort. Therefore, you don't need a big fund to give participants the experience and opportunity to raise money and make an investment.