Eight Nonprofits Join the Social Enterprise Accelerator 2023

Past Participants have generated more than $8M to Support Their Missions

Since 2019, 16 local nonprofit organizations have participated in the  Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s Social Enterprise Accelerator (SEA), a 30-month process to strengthen their entrepreneurial capacity by launching or growing revenue generating ventures that are mission-aligned. Administered by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s Nonprofit Support Program, each organization developed and implemented business plans to boost revenue and heighten their mission impact, with the guidance of No, Margin, No Mission, a national consulting firm that helps nonprofits become stronger and more vibrant through earned income, social enterprise, and entrepreneurial practices. To date, these 16 organizations have collectively generated more than $8 million in revenue from their social enterprise projects.

Now, eight additional nonprofits have been chosen to participate in the Social Enterprise Accelerator 2023. Each organization attended a series of learning labs and consultations with No Margin, No Mission over the summer, after which they applied to join this group. Over the next two and a half years, the 8 organizations will learn from one another as they build and execute their business plans and launch or grow their ventures.

One of the participants in the second round of the SEA was the Hartford Food System (HFS). Since 1978, HFS has been committed to fighting hunger and improving nutrition with the goal of creating a healthy, culturally responsive, just, resilient, and sustainable food system that meets the needs of all residents. The HFS social enterprise, the Hartford Harvest Farm Share, is an aggregated CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), focused on farmers of color.

This effort engages local farmers to provide fresh produce to residents and will help small and mid-size growers to generate new revenue and reach new customers. Families buy shares for $30 per week. HFS accepts several payment methods including SNAP, with income assistance available to qualifying families. HFS piloted the effort in 2021, engaging seven farmers, including three urban growers, providing local produce to 25 families over 16 weeks. HFS is working to engage at least ten farmers and reach 90 families, providing two pick-up locations and extending the season to 18 weeks.

“Creating a new revenue stream and the opportunity to think more like a business rather than a nonprofit has allowed us to strategically begin developing models that might further support other programs,” said Hartford Food System, Inc. Executive Director Billie C. Scruse, M.P.A. “We appreciate the support of the Hartford Foundation, and our team is enthusiastic about the future of Hartford Harvest Farm Share. We can envision other diverse project investment ventures to come which will help us grow, feed, and educate our community!”

The following organizations have been selected to participate in the Social Enterprise Accelerator 2023:

“The Social Enterprise Accelerator has served as a platform for nonprofits to learn and take the evolutionary steps necessary to become thriving, sustainable organizations with greater impact in our region,” said Hartford Foundation’s Associate Director of the Nonprofit Support Program Meher Shulman. “The leadership, readiness, and culture demonstrated by this cohort will facilitate their efforts to strengthen their entrepreneurial capacity through this exciting 30-month process. Congratulations to these enterprising nonprofits, and thanks to all the organizations that participated in the learning labs.”

Video: Social Enterprise Accelerator

The Social Enterprise Accelerator Program was highlighted at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s Greater Together 2023 event. This video features two SEA success stories, Sunshine Wheels and Open Hearth Works.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $948 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.