Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/06/2017 -- DC Community Carrot ("Carrot") has completed a seven-month pilot project to demonstrate the non-profit organization's ability to help DC's Out of School Youth to create their own businesses. The effort was funded by generous grants from the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) and the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES).
Based on these successes, Carrot leadership has announced that Harry Alford, III, MBA, has joined as Interim Executive Director. Mr. Alford serves concurrently as CEO of Impact at Humble Ventures, a venture co-operative that democratizes access to opportunity and capital for underserved entrepreneurs. A serial entrepreneur, Mr. Alford holds an MA from Georgetown University and an MBA from Babson College. He lives with his wife in Petworth.
New Leadership Means a Longer Runway for Entrepreneur Support
"Helping Opportunity Youth to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship education is a natural extension of the incredibly rewarding work my colleagues and I at Humble are already doing," said Mr. Alford. "Now, Carrot's participants will see a much longer runway of support that includes with the potential of venture capital and investors eager to see them succeed."
The anticipated close coordination between Carrot and Humble creates a public-private partnership given Carrot's historical funding from government and Humble's private sector funding.
David Sheon, Founder and Executive Director of Carrot will continue to serve as Founder. Mr. Sheon is working with Seattle-based companies and organizations to expand the organization to the West coast.
"Launching Carrot at the urging of community leaders in response to the lack of opportunities for young adults in Petworth will always be one of my most proud life accomplishments," said Mr. Sheon. "Helping our young adults, all of whom live under the poverty line, has taught me to be humble and thankful. I'm grateful to our Board and the participants for this opportunity."
Project Assessment Findings
The end of project assessment shows that the pilot was highly successful. Key takeaway points include:
1) Strong interest. Over 200 young men and women responded to our outreach, expressing strong interest in our entrepreneurship training program, including many from the Petworth/Brightwood Park community.
2) Commitment remained strong. Entrepreneurship training proved to be a highly motivational incentive, resulting in participants eagerly seeking and retaining social supports, finding related work, and attending class so they could create microbusiness to provide their ability to move to the middle class. Of the 14 participants who provided qualifying documentation to DOES thus qualifying for the program, 13 received business licenses, the primary endpoint of the DOES Workforce Innovation grant.
3) Successful curriculum. All participants improved their soft skills, including communicating when scheduling/calendar conflicts arise; body language, eye contact, diction; obtaining and wear professional attire; taking responsibility for missteps or poor communication.
Participants also learned how to conduct primary and secondary research to differentiate their business ideas; develop marketing strategies; understand naming conventions; perform basic trademark searches; conduct logo development through crowdsourced competitions; navigate financial literacy, including creating a projections spreadsheet, accessing and improving their credit score, securing a small loan from CDFI partners, managing a checkbook; differentiate organizational structures (i.e. LLC, Inc., Sole Proprietor, non-profit, B-Corp); and, navigate DC and Federal government business license requirements and responsibilities.
4) Stability. Thirteen of the 14 participants improved their personal stability as necessary to help their businesses thrive. The organization's leadership linked participants to 10 social support services, including mental health providers, shelters, medical health providers, day care vouchers, and social workers.
5) Confidence. All students were taught that entrepreneurship requires patience, creativity, and an appreciation for failures as a pathway to success. All students were encouraged to develop micro-businesses with start-up costs under $1,500. "Failing small is failing up," according to one Carrot participant.
6) Jobs as Pathway to Independence. Eight (8) of the students secured employment at jobs that will directly contribute to the skills and knowledge they need to launch and manage their businesses. For instance, a young man interested in creating a retail clothing business is working at a national retail clothing chain. By one year, we believe all 14 will be working in jobs related to their interest, effectively being paid to learn the skills they need to make their business thrive.
7) Mentors. Eight (8) of the students were partnered with mentors who checked in at least every other week and met with the students when possible to help them move their business ideas forward. Studies show that minority youth entrepreneurs suffer from a significant social capital gap compared to white youth entrepreneurs, making success more difficult. The finding indicates a likelihood of success for the majority of participants.
8) Pathway to Profitability Requires Ongoing Support. Progression from having an entrepreneurial spirit to translation into an income generating business idea is an evolutionary process that takes ongoing attention and support, beyond what can be fully achieved in one year. As a result, Carrot looks forward to announcing partnerships that will extend the length and depth of support we will offer this and future cohorts.
About DC Community Carrot
DC Community Carrot's mission is to break the cycle of poverty by helping entrepreneurial Opportunity Youth create businesses of their own that will last a lifetime. The program provides the mentors, education, and access to capital needed for entrepreneurs to succeed. The organization's vision is to create pathways to the middle class for D.C.'s Opportunity Youth, ages 18 to 24.
The Board of Directors of DC Community Carrot includes Chairman Elston; Leon Andrews, National League of Cities; Michael Aniton, former Assistant Attorney General; Brian Fair, DonorSearch (Norfolk, Va.); Aaron Frank, Singularity University (Mountain View, Calif.); Rachel Gartlan, WeWork; Ryan Palmer; and Nicole Porter, Sentencing Project.
Supported with grants from the DC Department of Small and Local Development and DC Office of Employment Services, the organization enjoys deep community support through partnerships and in kind support from WeWork, the Latino Economic Development Corporation, Volunteers of America, Community Connections, ANXO Cider and Pinxo Bar, and Lyft.
For more information or to donate go to www.dccommunitycarrot.org.
About Humble Ventures
Humble ventures is a venture co-operative that democratizes access to opportunity, knowledge, and capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs. We leverage our acceleration model and virtual programming to reach, train, and connect entrepreneurs across demographic and socioeconomic barriers.
The next wave of innovation will be driven by the activity of underrepresented entrepreneurs and it will take diverse entrepreneurs to solve the problems of the fastest growing demographic segments. We execute our acceleration model around strategic themes and programming impacting economic health of these communities in collaboration with corporate program partners.
In the past year, humble ventures has run two cohorts with 25 total participating startups and 50 entrepreneurs. Demographically, over 70% of the startups have been led by minorities or women and over 50% of our founders have been millennials. These entrepreneurs have collectively raised $4 million in capital, created 30 jobs, converted 7,000+ customers, generated just shy of $1 million in revenue and formed 47 partnerships.
For more information visit humble.vc.
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