Meet SEA’s 2018 Pave A Path Scholarship Recipients

The 10 social entrepreneurs receiving membership scholarships to join SEA this year

Social Enterprise Alliance launched the Pave A Path Campaign last December in an effort to raise funds for social entrepreneurs who face barriers to being supported and engaged in the social enterprise movement. The idea for the campaign came from the recognition that not all social entrepreneurs have the same access to opportunity as others. Whether because of their gender, ethnicity or economic standing, for some entrepreneurs the playing field is not yet level.

Through the Pave A Path Campaign, we can offer these social entrepreneurs a chance to join SEA, a connected, resource-driven community that would support them. With the donations from our community, we were able to raise enough funds to give 10 SEA membership scholarships to social entrepreneurs across the country. It was so difficult to sort through the 115 incredible applications we received to find our 10 recipients.

This process has, even further, confirmed what we already knew: inclusive social enterprise opportunities are paramount in our sector. We are thrilled to introduce you to our 10 amazing scholarship recipients who are changing the world in a variety of ways.

Darius Ballinger

Who: Founder, Chasing23 Youth Empowerment Group — South Side Prints

Why: The mission of Chasing23 Youth Empowerment Group is to promote unity, respect and success among boys and young men of color in Chicago. After making it through a tough childhood, growing up in a single-parent home on the South Side of Chicago, Darius founded Chasing23 on a mission to make a positive life change. He is developing a social enterprise creative agency, South Side Prints, to help fund the work of Chasing23.

“We believe that youth will be able to realize their full potential…when they have access to structured, after-school activity, [positive relationships] and role models that demonstrate responsibility and maturity” — Darius Ballinger

Darius is a husband and father to three children. He has worked as a mentor to hundreds of students on the South Side. Learn more here.

Gloria Lucas

Who: Founder, Nalgona Positivity Pride

Why: Nalgona Positivity Pride (NPP) is a Xicana-Brown*-Indigenous project that focuses on intersectional body positivity, eating disorder awareness and cultural affirmation. NPP believes that racism, colonialism, ableism and homophobia are all factors that lead to violent relationships with food and damaged body image. The social enterprise offers education, social media content, support groups and an Etsy store where individuals can buy NPP, body-positive merchandise. As a Xicana womxn who has struggled with an eating disorder for more than 10 years, Gloria knows first hand how debilitating and lonely it can feel.

“For many of us, we have no one to mirror our struggle and therefore we struggle alone…Learning about historical trauma…made me realize not only why I had developed an eating disorder but why my family and my community was hurting.”

Gloria’s work has been featured at the Huffington Post, MiTú, The Body is not an Apology and more. Learn more at nalgonapositivitypride.com.

*In this context, Brown refers to the mixed descendants of the indigenous from (what is known today as) America.

Theresa Daniels

Who: Chief Spokesperson & Business Entrepreneur, Theresa’s Twists

Why: The mission of Theresa’s Twists is simple: to change lives “one pretzel at a time.” The gourmet soft pretzel social enterprise has a dream to give job opportunities, family support and social skills education to young adults struggling with Asperger’s Syndrome. Theresa’s Twists began out of Theresa’s own painful experience with Asperger’s, which she was diagnosed with as a toddler. Her dream is to open a food truck business and then a storefront, selling gourmet soft pretzels and candied pretzels. Learn more at www.theresastwists.com.

Mohammad Modarres

Who: Founder, Abe’s Meats

Why: Mohammad Modarres founded Abe’s Meats, the first-ever Interfaith Meat products that are both Halal and Kosher. The mission of Abe’s Meats is to celebrate the commonalities that exist between the Jewish and Muslim families of faith, while creating better food products for everyone. Before entering the food world, Mohammad co-founded a public biotechnology company, redesigned a board game and published as an award-winning political cartoonist. Learn more here.

Mark George

Who: Co-Founder of 4Heroes 4Life

Why: 4 Heroes 4 Life-line brings hope and healing to first responders through programs for behavioral health, including PTSD and Suicide Prevention. The vision is to support Heroes — including veterans, doctors, active duty personnel and law enforcement — and their families in overcoming the challenges of the job.With help from their social enterprise, where they sell products to benefit first responders, they fund partner program alliances with critical services for First Responders. Mark George brings 30 years of experience as a Navy veteran, firefighter, deputy fire marshal, board chair to several non-profits and a social entrepreneur. He grew up in a military family and even struggled with PTSD himself. Learn more here.

“I was fortunate to go through one of the top PTSD programs in the nation at Stanford University… We strive to provide this kind of life-sustaining help for our Heroes so that no other Hero and their family ever has to go through the same hardships that my family and I went through.”

Corissa Phillips

Who: Operations Director, GreenHouse17

Why: Corissa Phillips is the Operations Director for GreenHouse17, a Kentucky nonprofit organization that nurtures lives harmed by intimate partner abuse. GreenHouse17 sits on a 40-acre property with an emergency shelter and farm and provides a variety of crisis intervention and stabilization services for survivors. They are driven by the belief that “every individual has the right to live a safe, violence-free life.”

Corissa manages branding and marketing for the agency’s agricultural social enterprise where each day, she is witness to the healing and possibility that grow from the agency’s social enterprise. Whether taking photos of the flowers in their garden, managing the online sales portal, or preparing a report for funders, she does everything with the belief that hope blooms. Learn more here.

Nick Lum

Who: Founder of BeeLine Reader

Why: Nick is the founder of BeeLine Reader, an EdTech (educational technology) startup that is backed by NewSchools Venture Fund, The Tech Museum of Innovation and Intel Capital. BeeLine Reader makes reading on-screen easier, faster and more accessible for individuals with reading impairments and disabilities. BeeLine Reader’s technology has been adopted by the CA Public Library System, Reading Is Fundamental and Bookshare.org, and has been used to read over 250 million pages in 60 languages.

Living in Silicon Valley with his wife and daughter, Nick also runs the Read Across The Aisle project on the side, a tool to help people balance their news media diet. Learn more at www.beelinereader.com.

Lordess Shabazz

Who: Founder, Shop Lydia’s

Why: Shop Lydia’s is a recently launched venture in the Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey region. Lordess hopes to use the shop to employ women across the Northeast who are displaced homemakers without access to financial independence and stability. The dream is to also offer financial literacy and life skills programs to advance women in the marketplace.

Lordess was recently accepted to the University of Pennsylvania Executive Program on Social Impact Strategy, and looks forward to further honing her intellectual ability as a social entrepreneur. One day, she hopes to use her shop to introduce other women and minorities to social entrepreneurship. Website coming soon!

Frankie Roberts

Who: Executive Director, Co-founder LINC Foundation, Inc.

Why: Frankie Roberts was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. Since 2000, Mr. Roberts has been the Executive Director of Leading Into New Communities (LINC) Inc., a non-profit agency. Through their social enterprises — LINC Lawn Care, LINC Urban Farm and LINC Thrift Store — they are able to provide employment opportunities and services to help the formerly incarcerated rebuild their lives. Mr. Roberts co-founded LINC, Inc. with Tracey Ray after he lost his brother to incarceration and addiction. Since 2002, LINC has successfully helped reintegrate over 1,200 men and women who have been released from prison.

Frankie is honored to be a husband, father and grandfather and considers himself blessed to have a strong “dream team” at LINC, Inc. Learn more here.

Shani Dowell

Who: CEO and Founder, Possip

Why: Shani graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She then worked on education cases at The Bridgespan Group and helped launch schools in Houston, New Orleans and Nashville with KIPP. Shani’s diverse experiences in business, nonprofit and educational organizations led her to create Possip. Possip is a platform that brings together the best of technology and people to give schools a weekly pulse check on parent perspective.

Shani is a graduate of Howard University. She lives in East Nashville with her husband and two kids. She sits on the Board of Nashville Classical Charter School, served as a member the Transition Team for MNPS Director Shawn Joseph and is a member of Leadership Nashville. Learn more about Possip here.

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