impact

Advocacy Through Industry, with Raan and Shea Parton, Apolis Global

Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide. Brothers Shea and Raan Parton grew up in the privileged surroundings of Southern California. To ground the brothers in reality, their parents traveled with Raan and Shea. Seeing how the rest of the world lived afforded the boys a perspective shift. This early experience of diverse cultures made them comfortable enough to eventually move from the passive role of tourist to participant: “The most rich way to experience places or cultures is to be working there and to be part of it.” By the time Shea was in high school and Raan in college, they shipped their first orders…

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182, Zach McGill, Perk Health | Improving the Health of People and Companies

Perk Health is a website and app that helps you pick up healthier habits in a way that is sustainable. Zach McGill and Doug DeBold grew up playing sports. Games taught them so much: achievement, competition, leader boards, point scoring, rewards, rules of play, self-expression, socializing, mastery, and status. When it was time for college, Doug went off to college in Vermont while Zach attended the University of Minnesota. Initially, Zach studied engineering. He wanted to invent things. But, he says, “I realized, with engineering, there would be less inventing and lot more equations.” So, he started studying entrepreneurship. “It became clear to me that my path was going to…

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181, Marcus Owens, NEON | Sustainable Community Development through Entrepreneurship

Northside Economic Opportunity Network, better known as NEON, provides entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis with business development services. Marcus Owens is a product of North Minneapolis. He grew up there, graduating from North Community High School. He bought his first home there. Then his second. He says, “I always wanted to find a way to give back to this community.” Marcus has long been an entrepreneur, operating real estate and financial services businesses. He also worked at a regional bank and a large retailer. He ran a small nonprofit. By 2012, he was looking for more ways to give back to the community. He found his way to the board of…

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180, Michelle Horovitz, Appetite for Change | The Intersection of Food and Social Justice

Appetite for Change uses food as a tool for building health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis. Michelle Horovitz grew up in the well-manicured suburbs of Minneapolis. If you ask her about the beginning of her journey to social change, she points to her Jewish upbringing. She says that her family made her aware of major injustices in the world. This gave her a sense of empathy for people who had been “othered.” Throughout high school and college, Michelle waited tables. She had a keen interest in food and wanted to be a chef. As an undergrad student living in West Philadelphia, she was exposed to a world that…

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179, Junita Flowers, Favorable Treats | Clarity Comes While You Are Working

Favorable Treats is a cookie company and social impact venture. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Forty-three percent of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive behaviors. Even in high school, nearly 1.5 million US students experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year. Favorable Treats has a mission to let families across the country to enjoy warm cookies in safe homes.  They produce and sell pre-portioned cookie dough. A percentage of their profits goes towards dating and domestic violence awareness and prevention. The founder of Favorable Treats, Junita Flowers grew up in a large family…

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178, Kristen Womack, Hack the Gap | Hacking the Diversity Gap

Hack the Gap is a weekend event where women come together to build a project as a team. Kristen Womack is a bona fide techy. She worked as a product manager for some well-known tech companies. She runs Night Sky Web Co. And she has been involved in the local tech scene from Geekettes to Mpls MadWomen. And yet, as she attended hackathons, she couldn’t help but notice the lack of women. “When I went to the bathroom, there was no line,” she told me. The diversity gap in tech has been widely reported. The problem starts early in life. In a recent survey, only 0.4% of teenage girls plan…

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177, Katherine Milligan, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship | The World’s Largest Network of Late-Stage Social Entrepreneurs

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is the sister organization to the World Economic Forum. They manage the world’s largest network of late-stage social entrepreneurs. Katherine Milligan says, “I have always been deeply touched by the inequities of the world.” She spent time in the Peace Corp. She lived in a village in Benin without running water or electricity for two years. While there, she saw first-hand how an international shift in the commodity price of cotton had a significant impact on local cotton farmers and their families. “It opened a deep curiosity in me to understand why the conventional ways of delivering solutions to these populations where failing.” Her…

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176, Tim O’Neil, Bunker Labs, Minneapolis | Start and Grow a Veteran-led Business

Bunker Labs, Minneapolis is a non-profit built by military veteran entrepreneurs to empower other military veterans as leaders in innovation. This year, 200,000 military veterans will leave the service. Twenty-five percent of them want to start a business. In 2013, Tim O’Neil was one of those people. Tim is a native of the Midwest. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin. He was commissioned as an infantry officer in 2006. He spent seven years in the Marines. As he left the military, he entered the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Business to pursue his MBA. As he graduated in 2015, he knew he wanted to start a business. Tim…

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175, Rose McGee, Sweet Potato Comfort Pies | A Catalyst for Caring and Building Community

Rose McGee reminds me of that quote from tennis legend Arthur Ashe. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Rose calls sweet potato pie “the sacred desert of black culture.” She grew up with her grandmother and great-grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee. As an adult, Rose decided that she wanted to make sweet potato pie. She called her grandmother and got the recipe. “Nothing was written down,” she says. “It was a pinch of this and a handful of that.” Rose’s first experiments with making sweet potato pie did not turn out. But she kept baking. Soon, friends were requesting her pies. And after a while,…

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174, Eric Sannerud, Mighty Axe Hops | Experimenting within an Ecosystem

Mighty Axe Hops is using experimentation to create an ecosystem within an ecosystem. Eric Sannerud is an experimenter. He tries small experiments, gathers feedback and then adjusts. For example, in 2013, he was graduating from the University of Minnesota. At the same time, he had several irons in the fire. He was part of a team that launched Twin Fin, an innovative urban farm start-up, growing fish and greens in a city warehouse. At the same time, he was involved with the Famers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG). He was also involved with Urban Oasis, the winner of a $1 million Forever Saint Paul Competition to create a sustainable food center…

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