An Exciting New Chapter For Michigan Corps
Taking stock of how we have empowered Michiganders to lead social change efforts and announcing our next intitiative to continue fulfilling this mission.
Over the last 5 years, Michigan Corps has empowered individuals to participate in innovative change statewide. Two great examples of this, Kiva Detroit and the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, have gained national attention for the impact they've had on the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan as a whole.
Since launching in June 2011, Kiva Detroit, the nation's first Kiva City, has been a model of individuals investing directly in the success of their community's small businesses. Kiva Detroit has quickly become one of the area's most active microlenders, providing 50 small business owners with access to over $300,000 in interest-free capital. More importantly, the program has demonstrated the power and potential of community lending - the 50 loans were made possible by thousands of individuals from Michigan and across the world who believe in the power of small businesses to transform communities. We would not have been able to achieve this success without the support of the Knight Foundation and our many partners - the Community Advisory Council, the network of Trustees, and all of you. After successfully incubating this program, we're excited to move it into a long-term home with Build Institute. The incredible team at Build has helped over 500 entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses and we're confident they're the right organization to grow Kiva Detroit and realize its full potential.
Michigan Corps' other nationally-recognized initiative - the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, has had an outsized impact across the state. In just two years, the Challenge surfaced 500 Michiganders' ideas for innovative solutions to our communities' most pressing problems, accelerated these emerging ventures with over $150,000 in startup funding and provided investment-readiness training that helped the winners take on over $1.5 million in funding. The competition has driven the state's social entrepreneurship movement forward by bringing together the philanthropic, corporate, and public sectors to advance grass roots, mission-driven business ventures. Again, the tremendous success of this initiative would not not have been possible without the myriad partners involved and we can't do enough to recognize their contributions. The size and scope of the Challenge have grown remarkably in just two years and we've reached the conclusion that in order for it to continue to grow and affect change across the state, the program should be carried forward by a larger group of partners. The logical and fitting organization to do this is the Detroit Regional Chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance (of which we are proudly a part). The SEA is not only composed of members who have already helped make the Challenge a success, it also has the resources and expertise of a leading national organization behind it. We are finalizing the transition of the Challenge to the SEA and we're excited for them to carry it forward and help launch the next generation of Michigan social entrepreneurs.
So, what is Michigan Corps up to next? We are going to continue fulfilling our mission of empowering Michiganders to lead social change efforts across our state. In our work with hundreds of social innovators over the years, we've identified a need to better share the voices and insights of those working to improve our communities. These people not only have incredible personal stories and experiences, they possess unique insight into the barriers to social progress and the promise that new solutions hold.
So who are these people? They (or better it's) YOU! We want to hear your perspective and give you the opportunity to be informed and engaged in social innovation in our home state. We'll be launching the Michigan Corps Storytelling for Impact Fellowship to create a platform for telling and sharing these high-impact stories. Our goal is to move beyond simply informing our audience and to inspire meaningful action. We know that this new initiative will come with a new set of challenges, but we think the potential impact is immense and well worth our efforts. Our sincere hope is that you continue to support and contribute to the next phase of our journey. Stay tuned for updates on how to become involved as this next chapter takes shape!