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Social Entrepreneurs Celebrate Graduation From Newport Incubation Project

NEWPORT, RI (April 21, 2011) – Providence-based Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI - ), a non-profit organization of social investors and change-makers, announces the final pitch …

NEWPORT, RI (April 21, 2011) –

Providence-based Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI - ), a non-profit organization of social investors and change-makers, announces the final pitch and graduation celebration of its Newport Change Accelerator incubator class. The Change Accelerator is an eight-week mentor based social venture incubator program, one of only a handful that exists globally. The 2011 Newport Change Accelerator graduates represent nine high potential social ventures who have developed market-driven solutions to solve social challenges. The eight-week mentor-based program includes workshops on essential start-up topics, mentor matching, business plan refinement, and early-stage seed capital. The cohort of more than 50 community leaders who are serving as mentors contributed hundreds of pro bono hours to help these social entrepreneurs take their ventures to the next level. The ventures will pitch their businesses to potential stakeholders, partners and investors at the Seamen's Church Institute on Thursday, April 28, from 5-7. The public is welcome.

"We are impressed with the innovation and inspiration of the Newport County social entrepreneurs and all of the agencies and mentors who have helped them form and articulate their plans," said Ellen Donahue-Dalton, Board Chair, Social Venture Partners RI. "We look forward to watching their success as they create jobs and economic opportunities for Rhode

Island," she said.

The Change Accelerator was made possible by the generous support of the Van Beuren Charitable Foundation.

The first Change Accelerator project, completed in Providence in June 2010, incubated eight ventures, which have since generated 24 full time jobs, and 36 part time jobs.

“Newport has embraced this project wholeheartedly.” said Sarah Atkins, Newport Program Director for SVPRI. “There is great creative energy here, and with continued support, we will be able to assist more interested social entrepreneurs in the area.”

Graduating social enterprises include:

A Clean Start is a professional cleaning company, created by women who provide exceptional services to residential and commercial customers, as an empowerment program under Child & Family Services on Aquidneck Island. A Clean Start provides the foundation for single mothers, who have a desire to work hard, in regaining their financial independence and permanent housing stability. A Clean Start is dedicated to contributing a portion of its earnings to other non-profit organizations serving women and their children on the island.

BikeNewport Tours is a youth-driven enterprise offering custom, on-location bicycle tours. Our guides, area youth, have the opportunity to become bicycle ambassadors, touring visitors around our scenic and historic city. We are a 501(c)3 organization operating under the umbrella of The Met School and Big Picture Learning. Our guides earn good wages, stay fit, and develop valuable skills, while tourists enjoy an energetic and eco-friendly excursion, where they leave feeling like a local.

The FoodSecure Collaborative is a catalyst for food system reform that increases the productivity and health of the local foodshed. Locally, the Collaborative is developing a composting enterprise to transform waste into fertilizer for area farms and gardens. Globally, the Collaborative is developing ringREVOLUTION, a benefit concert and launch event for a worldwide campaign uniting aligned movements to boldly address the challenge of a mounting food crisis. Marketing two unique and symbolic product lines, Bullets-to-Bells and Swords-to-Plowshares, will generate awareness for the mission and funds for its innovative solutions-based program.

Growhouse RI aims to expand the agriculture sector on Aquidneck Island by developing the capability to provide year round access to affordable, locally grown, pesticide free vegetables through the application of advanced scientific and engineering principles. Projects in the initiative include the establishment of a research and development lab at Salve Regina University, a K-12 education and workforce development center at the Boys and Girls Club of Newport County and production facilities at multiple Newport County locations.

Make Hay Sewing Kits is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to fabricating unique and attractive sewing kits to generate funds and use as a training and skill building tool for a local women's shelter project. After developing a partnership with a Laotian cottage industry women’s project, Make Hay Kits, in raw silk, can be sold at high end stores with coordinating website. This product will fill practical needs of household and hotels, while serving as a reminder of the capacity for change with women’s international collaboration.

Ocean State Fresh is a non-profit that is providing locally harvested seafood to Rhode Islanders through a Community Supported Fishery program and a state-wide branding program. The Community Supported Fishery program is similar to Community Supported Agriculture programs and gives subscribers a weekly share of freshly caught local seafood. The branding program identifies local species of seafood that are harvested by Rhode Islanders in a sustainable manner. The brand is meant to differentiate between fresh local seafood and seafood shipped into the state. www.oceanstatefresh.org

The Peace Dale Culinary Collaborative turns disadvantaged people into great chefs that provide Rhode Islanders with delicious food, locally-prepared from healthy ingredients that are grown nearby. Our chefs-in-training come from a hidden South County population that lacks opportunities to sustain themselves and prosper. The Collaborative brings together three well-known South County institutions; The Education Exchange, The Domestic Violence Resource Center, and the locally-famous Sweet Cakes Café. Together these partners are prepared to train low income, unemployed/under-employed adults, young adults, and the formerly incarcerated in the culinary arts, food service and hospitality industries.

Project One is a 15-year old award-winning non-profit network of artists and volunteers. We enable the display, creation and enjoyment of outdoor public art by brokering access to public spaces and inviting artists to contribute work for these locations. By bringing professional and first-time artists together in the visibility of publicly exhibiting our projects stir creativity

and foster civic engagement. We are now offering a series of workshops in making public art which provide jobs to experienced artist and a conduit for the public to collaboratively create work for our public locations. Join us and experience the vitality at projectonepublicart.org

Swipe for a Cause created a credit card processing agency in order to raise money to build RI's first long-care hospice house. While we know that supporting hospice is a great cause, we also know that credit card processing is a business decision, not an emotional one. So we partnered with the biggest and best company to do our processing for us -- First Data -- which has allowed us to save all our businesses money on their rates. We live in the community, so if our businesses need us, we are never far away. We then donate our profits to building our state's first long-term hospice house -- a home where people at end of life receive 24-hour nursing care as well as emotional and spiritual help for the journey home.

About SVPRI

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI), established in 2002, by business leaders who wanted to promote sustainable social change, is a partnership of 40+ partners and 50+ mentors, all engaged philanthropists who contribute their skills and financial resources to help non-profit organizations establish and scale social enterprises that create jobs and revenue. Social enterprises are mission driven initiatives that apply market-based strategies, and entrepreneurship to maximize social impact.

SVPRI has built an engaged community of more than 700 social enterprise stakeholders and aggregated the state’s 100+ social ventures, which are creating hundreds of training and employment opportunities, many for individuals with significant barriers to employment. We conduct quantitative and qualitative research to better understand and respond to the needs of the sector, and develop economic and social outcomes impact findings. We have facilitated the development of 50+ ventures through SVP-University which provides pro-bono student consulting teams to develop feasibility studies and business plans. We have incubated 17 new social enterprises through our Change Accelerator©, an 8- week mentor-based incubator that leverages the expertise of more than 50 leading entrepreneurs. These first 8 ventures incubated reported creating 24 full time and 30 part time jobs at the end of year one. We create sector efficiencies through fiscal sponsorship and Change Place, our incubator, that currently houses and provides support for 8 start-up social ventures. We have developed a web-based marketplace and associated “I buy with heart” © marketing campaign to grow the sector’s market power. We encourage and facilitate contracts between large corporate and government clients and social ventures. We have provided $250,000 of low interest flexible term grants and loans to start up and mezzanine ventures. Finally, we advocate on behalf of the sector, resulting in social enterprise increasingly being recognized by top policymakers as a serious job creation and talent retention strategy. We log more than 3000 pro bono professional service hours each year. SVPRI was recently named the Citizen’s Bank/NBC 10 Champion in Action.

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