New award targets change

  • Article by: JEAN HOPFENSBERGER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 22, 2013 - 12:48 PM

Looking for an extra $20,000?

A state-of-the-art website?

Or even better, recognition for innovative nonprofit work from Minnesota philanthropists?

Then check out an application for this year's "Social Entrepreneur's Cup.'' It's a division of the "Minnesota Cup,'' an annual award given to a Minnesota business for innovation.

"The cup recognizes people who have organizations attempting to solve social problems through innovative means,'' said Brad Brown, executive director of Social Venture Partners Minnesota, a Bloomington-based partnership of business entrepreneurs who fund trailblazing nonprofits.

"By innovation, it doesn't just mean different, it means showing results,'' said Brown.

For example, the winner of the first cup, in 2008, was Students Today, Leaders Forever, which promotes student volunteerism and leadership opportunities. It was hatched in several students' dorm rooms at the University of Minnesota a few years earlier.

It now has helped 450 volunteer student leaders in 11 states organize work projects for 3,000 students, staff said.

Instead of having one executive director, it has three co-directors with niche duties. They all plan to leave their leadership roles in the next few years to make way for fresh ideas. There's even a "transition plan'' for it.

"What the cup gave us was legitimacy,'' said Irene Fernando, a co-executive director of the group. "We were basically in our infancy stage. The cup introduced us to people and relationships that continue today.''

The award, in its third year, also gives the winner access to the business and technical savvy of members of Social Ventures Partners, said Brown. That includes help with business plans, marketing and technology systems.

The deadline for applications is April 23. Winners will be announced June 17 at the partners' "Engaged Philanthropy" conference in Minneapolis.

For more information, go to www.svpmn.org.

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511

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