One of the important niches that our technology and entrepreneurship incubator, BLUE1647, aims to fill, is in the diversity of interests and backgrounds of our members. As a Co-Founder of the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival, the 21st Century Youth Project, and a founding board member of Depaul University’s Social Enterprise Collective, I have had an unique opportunity to view many different amazing business models in affecting change. I’ve also had an opportunity to learn about many of the trends with people (especially recent grads) looking for sustainable ways to make the world a better place.
Additionally, with several of our BLUE1647 members running social enterprises, the number of upcoming social and civic hacks that we have planned, and the social change films we have screened at BLUE1647, we’d miss a tremendous opportunity if we didn’t provide a program to stimulate social change in our local communities. There are some amazing programs and accelerators in Chicago that provide a platform for change, and we wanted to focus on social enterprises that could provide jobs, opportunity, education, and value only for the low-income communities of Chicago. We don’t have to go far to see the number of communities that have unemployment numbers 2-3 times the average of the city, but we have to go far to find social enterprises like Sweet Beginnings, that have taken an innovative approach to providing jobs, opportunities, and training to a demographic that is in desperate need of innovative tools and solutions.
By focusing on concepts like long-term business model sustainability and learning to network with potential investors, it is hoped that businesses located within low-income areas will become empowered. Naturally, the ultimate goal behind this endeavor is to create a sort of grass-roots business initiative that teaches individuals within communities how to build and maintain commerce in the face of strict conditions.
We feel the Social Enterprise Innovation Center will be a champion of innovative approches to improving communities, utilizing the strengths of BLUE1647: technology (via Code Chicago and our civic hacks) and people development, combined with a dynamic curiculum and advisors who will help these organizations meet their objectives. We don’t have all of the answers, but we feel that by building a cohort of innovative solutions, our local communities can be affected in a tangible way.
The formal training process will approximate a period of 4 to 6 months, and will culminate with a SEIC “Demo Day” event. During this time, participants have access to the BLUE1647 Tech Incubator co-working space, exclusive events, student interns, valuable strategic advice (which will help them strengthen and build their organization), as well as the opportunity to cultivate ongoing business relationships and develop additional, previously unavailable resources.
To apply, go to http://seicenter.com/apply-now
If you’re interested in serving as an advisor, please do contact us as well.
We are having our kickoff event March 13 at DePaul University’s downtown campus (Room #8005). To RSVP, go here: We’re already at 90 RSVPs, so be sure to sign up before we run out of space.