Marquette and WARF to award $100,000 to social entrepreneurship groups

Finalists named in Force for Positive Change awards

The Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University.
The Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Marquette University and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation have named the finalists in the second annual Force for Positive Change awards, which recognize social entrepreneurship efforts in Wisconsin.

The Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University.
The Alumni Memorial Union at Marquette University.

The southeastern Wisconsin finalists are: Milwaukee-based ACTS Housing; Milwaukee-based Cathedral Squared Enterprises Inc.; St. Francis-based Compost Crusader LLC; Milwaukee-based Cream City Conservation & Consulting LLC; Milwaukee-based Derute Consulting Cooperative; Milwaukee-based Islands of Brilliance Inc.; Milwaukee-based St. Ann Center; Milwaukee-based STEMhero LLC; Milwaukee-based WasteCap Resource Solutions Inc.; and Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.

Also included in the finalist group are: Onalaska-based 7 Rivers Recycling LLC; Neenah-based Apricity LLC; Madison-based Artisan Dental LLC; Madison-based Chrysalis Inc.; Neenah-based Evergreen Credit Union; DePere-based Eye Heart World Inc.; Madison-based Families and Schools Together Inc.; Madison-based Forward Community Investments Inc.; Madison-based Harambee Village LLC; Viroqua-based Kickapoo Coffee Inc.; Madison-based Leonardo Academy Inc.; Hudson-based Little Free Library Ltd.; Madison-based Maydm Inc.; Mayville-based Mayville Open Door Inc., dba The Open Door Coffeehouse; Wausau-based Opportunity Inc.; Appleton-based Rise Together Inc.; Appleton-based Soar Fox Cities Inc.; Spring Green-based Spring Green Timber Growers LLC; Virocqua-based Driftless Café; De Pere-based The Local Food Experiment LLC; Madison-based Urban League of Greater Madison.

On March 22, eight winners will be announced from the finalist pool at an event in Marquette’s Alumni Memorial Union. The winners will divide more than $100,000. Each Wisconsin incorporated nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid company named a winner will receive $12,500, and the student-led projects will receive $1,000. The winners must be revenue positive and take on a major social or environmental challenge with their products or services.

This is the second annual Force for Positive Change competition led by Marquette and WARF. Funding and assistance are provided by John and Tashia Morgridge, American Family Insurance, Ashoka, The Commons, the Morgridge Institute for Research, Promega Corp., StartingBlock Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business, Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, Wisconsin Technology Council and Wisconsin Campus Compact. The entries will be judged by a panel of 19 judges selected by the sponsors, and the finalists will learn the results at the event.

“There’s so many social problems that exist in our communities and we want to be able to use this competition to shine a light on organizations that are already doing great work in this area,” said Kelsey Otero, associate director of social innovation at Marquette. “Social ventures don’t get nearly the volume of funding that traditional tech ventures do. We believe most of them will use (the awards) to continue to fund the work that they’re doing or to fund a new project…to grow their organization and their impact.”

This is the first time Marquette and WARF have partnered.

“The event and awards are the brainchild of John and Tashia Morgridge, natives of Wauwatosa who have a long history of philanthropy in the state,” said Laura Heisler, director of programming at WARF. “We are excited to collaborate with so many others in Wisconsin and celebrate these amazing forces of positive change and inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”

In 2017, the first year of the competition, $100,000 was split among four companies: Milwaukee-based Fix Development LLC; Middleton-based Purple Cow Organics; Madison-based Whole Trees; and Appleton-based Riverview Gardens.

“After the first year, we realized that there were so many organizations that were doing great work and we couldn’t narrow it down to just four exemplars,” Otero said.

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