Supporting Sustainability: Invested Faith Seeds $10,000 into NBA Social Entrepreneurs
For 5 years, the National Benevolent Association has hosted the SENT Seminar every fall. This educational conference was created to engage entrepreneurs and inspire potential entrepreneurs who were interested in learning more about starting and growing their own social enterprises.
Over the last few years, NBA’s Social Entrepreneurship team has spent time discerning ways in which the organization can support social entrepreneurs in deeper ways. Enter: NBA’s Social Entrepreneur Cohort, a yearlong experience during which entrepreneurs with lean, new social service nonprofit organizations (social enterprises) participate in quarterly meetings, and act as a sounding board as they navigate through the unknown that is entrepreneurship. The cohort is led and supported by Rev. Darnell Fennell, NBA’s Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Ashley Mayham, NBA’s Social Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator.
In its second year, this cohort model has already seen great success. Of the ten members who completed the 2021 cohort year, three applied for and received Fall 2021 Mission & Ministry Grants totaling $17,000; two members have received their 501(c)3 status; and four of the cohort members launched crowdfunding campaigns, which NBA was able to financially support. Cohort members also ended their time together by receiving logos for their budding organizations and having garnered solid plans on what their next steps could be.
In addition to the support cohort members received from NBA, two members from the 2021 cohort were recently awarded $5,000 each from Invested Faith, an organization founded by Rev. Amy Butler. Invested Faith helps fund faith-based entrepreneurs and their social enterprises. Managerrie Winston, founder of the Keeping It Together Project, and Andre Brown, creator of A Soul Cleansing Documentary, each received this grant to aid in the building of their social enterprises. Additionally, the pair received a matching donation from National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where Butler is the current interim senior pastor, bringing Winston and Brown’s total to $10,000 each.
In partnership with National City, Invested Faith has a vision of “helping pastors, other leaders, and people of faith think creatively about how the work of God is happening among us.” This especially includes financially supporting social entrepreneurs such as Winston and Brown.
Winston’s social enterprise, The Keeping It Together Project, provides “The KIT,” a set of social-emotional learning tools to serve the minds, bodies, and souls of underprivileged youth breaking boundaries and barriers, and rewriting the cycle of generational trauma.
Brown’s documentary, A Soul Cleansing, is a full-length film highlighting the stories of LGBTQIA folk who have endured the Black Church’s use of Christian theology to dismiss their faith, life, and love. The documentary seeks to revolutionize the Black Church’s views and values on the uniqueness of human identity, gender expression, sex, and sexuality.
“Beyond providing coaching support and a listening ear, we know that a lack of access to funding often stops social entrepreneurs from being able to go all-in on the ministries they’ve been called to create,” says Fennell. “This is especially true for historically disenfranchised communities where racism and a lack of generational wealth are at play. I’m proud of the work we’ve done as a program and celebrate seeing SENT Alumni receive funding from organizations like Invested Faith!”