Applicants are sought for a fellowship program that powers up the innovators and idea people in central Minnesota.

The Initiators Fellowship, launched by the Initiative Foundation in 2016, is available to social entrepreneurs in its 14-county service area including the counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd and Wadena.

The two-year 2022-2023 Fellowship program awards a $30,000 annual stipend along with a variety of other supports to promising entrepreneurs who want to grow as leaders and who have a passion to tackle a social challenge.

Imagined in 2015, designed in 2016 and piloted with an inaugural cohort of four in 2017, the Initiators Fellowship is developing Greater Minnesota innovators and community leaders. It starts with people committed to social change, an inspirational idea and a plan for harnessing the power of the marketplace. Through a selection process, Fellows are vetted from a pool of applicants to receive a two-year suite of support that includes training, mentoring, networking and financial backing to foster growth and development. Social enterprise ventures are for-profit or nonprofit businesses that are created to achieve a mission.

In addition to the annual stipend, Fellows benefit from an executive-level mentor, deep programming, educational opportunities and support from staff members. A complete definition of social entrepreneurship and other details can be found in the resources section at

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The Initiators Fellowship is suitable for emerging social entrepreneurs ranging from recent college graduates to mid-career individuals.

Additional requirements include living within one of four participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions, or an adjacent tribal nation, for the two-year duration of the Fellowship term. Diversity is a core program value. Applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability, economic status and perspectives are encouraged to apply. Full eligibility details

and an eligibility quiz can be found at

"The Initiators Fellowship aims to provide the next generation of regional leaders an opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society's needs while also building the business and leadership capacity of Greater Minnesota," said Matt Varilek, Initiative Foundation president, in a news release.

The program is open to applicants from the regions represented by the Initiative Foundation, West Central Initiative Foundation, Northwest Minnesota Foundation and Southwest Initiative Foundation.

Online applications for the 2022-2023 cohort are open from May 24 through June 15, 2021.

Learn more about the program and social entrepreneurship by visiting or by contacting Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager, at or 320-631-2019.