13 Jan

United Way, Social Enterprise Greenhouse Select 10 Fellows for Nonprofit Innovation Lab

United Way, Social Enterprise Greenhouse Select 10 Fellows for Nonprofit Innovation Lab

Unique, six-month program to spark development of new solutions to pressing social issues culminates with “Shark Tank-like” presentation to secure funding to bring ideas to life

Providence, R.I. (January 13, 2020): Leaders from ten Rhode Island-based nonprofits have been selected as Fellows for a unique social innovation program created by United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) and Social Enterprise Greenhouse. The cohort for the inaugural Nonprofit Innovation Lab was selected from a pool of two dozen applicants eager to address pressing social issues and who took part in a Quick Pitch selection event this past December.

Through the Nonprofit Innovation Lab, UWRI and SEG seek to spark the development of self-sustaining solutions that enable organizations to expand and accelerate their ability to create positive social impact. The effort leans on entrepreneurial thinking to identify new solutions to existing problems, utilizing a social impact curriculum and providing Fellows the critical resources – coaching, access to networks and capital – that they need to bring their ideas to life. The program culminates with a “Shark Tank-like” presentation in June, where Fellows will compete for $90,000 in seed funding.

The Fellows of the inaugural Nonprofit Innovation Lab and their respective organizations are:

  • Mario Bueno, Progreso Latino
  • Mike Chea, Dorcas International Institute of R.I.
  • Kate Corwin, Smith Hill CDC
  • Janice Falconer, Impact Rhode Island
  • Raul Figueroa, Fuerza Laboral
  • Dana Ginestet, College Crusade of Rhode Island
  • Laura Jaworski, House of Hope CDC
  • Jonathan Kabak, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island
  • Rhonda Price, Man Up, Inc.
  • Joshua Riazi, Genesis Center

“Together with Social Enterprise Greenhouse, we were very impressed with the innovation and quality of every proposal – there is some incredible forward thinking coming out of our state’s nonprofit community,” said Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of UWRI. “We are eager to help our Fellows hone their ideas to strengthen Rhode Island, and for every participant to bring back to their organization the knowledge and skills to take their work to the next level.”

Added Kelly Ramirez, CEO of SEG, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with United Way to deliver the Nonprofit Innovation Lab. This ‘intrapreneurship’ accelerator aims to provide some of the state’s top social impact leaders time and space, networks, and resources to enable them to better innovate within their organizations. The ultimate goal is to ensure the best opportunities and services to Rhode Islanders.”

The Nonprofit Innovation Lab begins on January 13 and runs through June. It consists of three components:

  • Boot Camp: 6-weeks of intensive expert instruction via two, 4-hour weekly sessions and online
    curriculum to refine innovation plans and set milestone goals.
  • Milestone Accelerator: 16-weeks, during which Fellows connect and work with advisors throughout
    United Way and SEG networks.
  • Innovation Pitch Event: in June, five Fellows present their final innovation plans to compete for


United Way of Rhode Island is changing lives and strengthening our communities by investing in proven programs that work over the short-term, and are scalable over the long-term. For more information, visit www.LIVEUNITEDri.org.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse creates positive social and economic impacts across Rhode Island by supporting social entrepreneurs and enterprises with the business tools and networks they need to thrive. SEG operates statewide out of programming sites in Providence, Newport, and Pawtucket/Central Falls, and its network of 500+ enterprises and 300+ business and community leaders contributes time, expertise, and funding to grow Rhode Island’s social impact ecosystem. To learn more, visit www.segreenhouse.org.

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