Enterprising Nonprofits

We have all heard about how the economy is placing stress on charities and nonprofit organizations.  On one hand they are experiencing more demand for their services while on the other they are seeing a decline in donations, and now a serious cut in government support through contracts and grants for services.  This is a particular problem in our region since nonprofits here are more dependent on government money than charities in the rest of the country.  On the whole, over 90% of the money supporting Erie County nonprofits comes from government, compared to only 76% nationally.  The decline in government support that will be felt over the next few years will hurt locally.

    Yet some creative, energetic nonprofits are responding to this turn in fortune by joining a growing movement known as ?social entrepreneurship? where they are buckling down with disciplined business plans, metrics, and plans to scale up business enterprises that grow out of their social mission.  One such local example is the St. Martin Center Culinary Lab program.
This program is designed to teach important kitchen and cooking skills to the unemployed, underemployed and other individuals looking for jobs in commercial kitchens.  After completion of the 12-week program, participants will be able to take a ServSafe Certification test and be placed in various restaurant jobs.  The first round of graduates finished the course in March, and they are currently on their way to being placed throughout the city.  The Culinary Lab program is looking to open its own restaurant or food service concession in the future and create a revenue stream that will support programming for families served by the St. Martin Center.

    For more on the Center and its work and to see photos of the Culinary Lab in operation, visit www.stmartincenter.org

    To learn more about social enterprise in the nonprofit world, follow this link: http://www.virtueventures.com/setypology/index.php?id=DEFINITION&lm=0

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