Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

Author Archive

Relationships Rule

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 3:37 pm

I have learned throughout my summer internship that relationship truly rule. Partnerships and collaborations require strong and healthy relationships in order to execute. Being a small team, it can be challenging to tend to relationships with local leaders, businesses and organizations because many times the administrative tasks have kept me tied to the computer. I have come to realize the importance of relationships and how necessary they are for successful non-profit organizations. I have started to research and seek opportunities within the community to get connected and stay connected. The Urban League Young Professional Network has provided an outlet for me to connect to other young professionals in the community as well as opportunities that can connect me to other professionals in the non-profit world.

Social media in today’s world creates a false idea of relationships and how they are formed. A simple ‘like’ on FB does not build a relationship neither does a ‘tweet’. Relationships are built through physical interaction. Computers cannot do the work for you. While the administrative aspects of HerSpace, Inc. are extremely important to its operation and success, relationship building must also be a high priority.

Challenge accepted.

The Proof is in the Pudding – The Real M.O.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 2:33 pm

Measurements & Outcomes.

These two worlds make the non-profit world go round. More specifically the world of funding go around. If you cannot measure it and prove it, you most likely cannot fund it.

I have spent quite a bit of time throughout these past couple of weeks racking my brain to figure out what data as an organization we need to capture and what measurements we should use to capture our impact. Being an organization that deals with many intangible yet highly important aspects of a young persons life such as confidence, self-esteem, etc. it becomes difficult to put on growth and impact on paper. How do you capture a girl whose perspective on herself has changed as a result of participation in your program? Does it become evident in her academics? Her decisions? Her conversations? Is that something that can be measured now? Or do we have to wait a few months or an entire school year?

Nonetheless, I cannot say that I figured it ALL out, but I am getting closer to getting these answers than I was before. The reality is, the proof is in the pudding. If what you do only produces tears and talk, it becomes very difficult to get the emotionless corporate world or businesspersons to reach in their pockets and invest. They want the real M.O. and I am going to break my neck to give it to them.

The Bigger The Ask, The Larger The Task

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 5:16 pm

Grantwriting is such a monstrous task. It is one thing to ask individuals for a monetary donation. There are no requirements, guidelines or stipulations. You are merely just asking folk to believe in your organization and the work that you do. However, when making big ask to organizations and foundation for thousands of dollars, the task becomes more difficult, more intense and more demanding. HerSpace, Inc. has just entered into its grantseeking phase. My first task has been conducting in-depth research to find grants locally, regionally and nationally that we can qualify for. Each grant has its own set of requirements, focus points and guidelines that must be followed in order to be considered. My next task is to begin the grant application process for each grant that we have decided as an organization to apply for. This will be a demanding process, however, it will force my organization to concretely and specifically outline our program goals, specific outcomes and evaluation metrics that clearly demonstrates impact amongst the young women that we serve. This will be our first time applying for grants. I am both excited yet a bit nervous about the process. Because the application is so intense, it is only natural to hope that your hard work will bring forth a reward. I am pooling together resources to help me with this process as I am by no means a grantwriting expert. From my understanding grantwriting is both an art and a science that requires patience, skill and diligence.

Let’s see how this goes….. :-)

A Lesson From Nemo: Just Keep Swimming

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 4:32 pm

Whew. This summer is moving extremely fast and HerSpace, Inc. business is as well. 2014 Camp Wings and the preparation thereof served as the official opening to our summer as an organization and we have not stopped ‘swimming’ since. In the midst of donor management and grant research for the upcoming fiscal year, we are gearing up for our inaugural Backpack Bash. This will be an event that is designed to promote academic excellence, encourage strong study habits and inspire girls toward scholastic achievement. We are looking for community organizations to partner with us as we look to equip young girls with backpacks full of school supplies and academic essentials. To fund this, I am organizing a Buy-A-Backpack campaign to make this initiative possible.

The to-do lists seem endless and enormous, but I am certain that the end result will be rewarding. As an organization our administrative arms are beyond worn out, but it is in these times where I remember a lesson from a famous sea creature named Nemo who taught us all to ….JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

The Power of Thank You

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:13 pm

Camp Wings is only possible through the help and investment from our donors and supporters. Through an online donation model we were able to raise funds to offset the expenses that are associated with camp. Our donors are an extremely valuable part of our organization. In the past, we have not always done a great job in following up in a timely manner to our donors. This year, we have made it a priority to follow up at least 2 weeks after camp toensure that our donors feel valued and are informed of the success of our Camp Wings program. This week is being spent writing handwriting notes, printing Thank You collages, stuffing envelopes and mailing them to our many investHers.While this is somewhat of a tedious task, it is necessary. Thankfully,I have compiled all of our donors into one place which makes it easier to prepare and send off material. I recognize the power of ‘thank you’ when it comes to a small, start up non-profit organization. While our donors are not million dollar givers, it is important to be faithful to the donors that you do have.

While it is easy to think that the power is in the dollar, the power is actuallyin the ‘thank you.’ It tugs at the heart to keep on giving.

Bigger, Better, Brighter

Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:05 pm

My non-profit organization, HerSpace, Inc. was founded in 2012. My organization’s 501(c)3 status was secured in 2013. Our first program, Camp Wings, launched in 2012. This 7-day overnight camp experience takes young girls 12-16 out of their everyday environment and places them in a different environment where transformation is possible. Throughout their experience, ordinary camp activities such as horsebackriding, rockclimbing and ziplining are used to create extraordinary learning moments.

Last week was an extremely exciting, challenging, and rewarding week in the HerSpace, Inc. world as we hosted 2014 Camp Wings. This year’s theme – Bigger, Better, Brighter – not only echoed a message of inspiration to our campers but also echoed the growth, development and improvements that were madesince itslaunch in 2012. The infrastructure had been strengthened, the curriculum had been created and tailored to our young girls,, the donors had matured in their giving, and the team had been restructured. Camp Wings was truly bigger, better and brighter than its inaugural year.

As the visionary behind HerSpace, Inc. and Camp Wings, there is nothing more encouraging, more fulfilling and more reassuring than to watch your vision manifest itself in reality.It was an amazing experienceleading 18 campers, 3 camp counselors and 1 camp director through a 7-day transformative experience. All of the challenges, tough conversations and at times chaos was truly worth it. I cannot wait until 2015 Camp Wings for 2014 was truly a pleasure.

I can show you Camp Wings better than I can tell you. I welcome you to check out a news feature on Camp Wings that aired on Monday. You can view it here. The written article can also be found here.

Until next time, be bigger. Be better. Be brighter. You were born to.

Under Construction : Hard Hat Zone

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:55 pm

It was not until I completed the infamous SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) on HerSpace, Inc. that I realized the organization was in a serious ‘Under Construction’ phase. All summer I have been working to put certain key elements in place that will ensure the organizations success as a growing non-profit organization. I have pretty much had on my ‘Hard Hat’ all summer and have not even realized it.

The SWOT analysis gave me a clear and concise idea of where the organization stood, areas of improvement, and opportunities that exist that would be of benefit to the organization. Such an analysis is not always an easy pill to swallow on paper because it requires the organization to be internally transparent from all angles. It reveals the gap between where you are as an organization and where you want to be. It reveals the gap between your goals and your results and the gap between what is and what is not. Because of the amount of emotional energy that I have invested into HerSpace, Inc. it can be difficult to take a step back and conduct such an analysis. All in all, it requires on to wear a ‘Hard Hat’ – emotionally disconnect and professionally assess.

Although challenging at times, ithas been a pleasure spending so many hours building and constructing HerSpace, Inc. I appreciate the moments that have required me to step back and assess. I also am thankful for those moments that have reeled my emotional strings and pulled me to a place of passion and purpose.

20/20 Vision

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 6:50 pm

Although I have never had perfect natural vision, I have always been quite a natural visionary. I instinctively can see beyond today into tomorrow, I can see the possibilities beyond the impossibilities and in essence the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ideas excite and ignite me. New concepts and creative tanks take me to one of my most fulfilling zones.

One of my roles this summer has been devising a fundraising strategy and building relationships that will bring HerSpace, Inc. the financial resources that it will need to operate its programming for the upcoming year. This has been one of my most difficult responsibilities to say the least. Because I am such a natural visionary, I have had to worked diligently at honing my skills to paint the very picture of HerSpace, Inc. that I see to others. I had to realize what I naturally see does not necessarily come natural to those that I am sharing the vision and mission of HerSpace, Inc. with.

I have welcomed this challenge and I have worked tirelessly to perfect this growing skill of mines. I have had to develop tools and diagrams to assist me in my vision sharing as I attempt to can the influence and support of others in order to further advance the mission of HerSpace, Inc.

When people do not have 20/20 vision you have to give it to them!

So You Say That You’re Different?

Monday, August 5, 2013 9:47 pm

Social responsibility and commitment to a cause has been a part of our society’s culture for decades. Major tragedies in our history have tugged on the heart strings of people and have served as a catalyst for increased volunteerism and humanitarianism. Non-profit organizations have been founded by both our ordinary and extraordinary neighbors in hopes to leave this world better than it was when we found it. As HerSpace, Inc. sits amongst many of the long standing organizations dedicated to young girls such as Girls, Inc. and Girls Scouts. This summer we have forced ourselves to answer the question: What makes us different?

Through many long hours of brainstorming and “brain drilling” we finally came to a point where we were able to internally define what sets us apart so that we can then brand ourselves accordingly externally. Although this process was at times extremely daunting and frustrating, it was imperative for us to know how we different and how we would impact the lives of young girls differently than any other organization that exists. This process was necessary for us to develop a strong branding and marketing package that we will use to bring awareness to our mission and what we have to offer young girls around the world.

We are not only different, but we know why we are! Now THAT’S something to be excited about!!!!!

Every Butterfly Was Once A Caterpillar

Saturday, July 20, 2013 2:39 pm

In 2010 a young girl stood wrapped in a white sheet inked with words that she had written in permanent marker. As the workshop facilitator, I directed her to a mirror that was leaning against the wall. She stood amidst her reflection staring at the words she had written on the sheet – ugly, embarrassed, dumb, unloved, guilty, left out, invisible, and angry. I realized that she could not see herself beyond her cocoon. She could not see herself as the young girl she truly was – beautiful, brilliant and full of potential. I knew that her poor academic performance, lack of involvement in extracurricular activities as well as her unhealthy relationships was the product of her inability to see her potential and herpossibilities. I also knew that if placed in the right environment, Vanessa’s perspective would change. She just simply needed an opportunity. There are girls like Vanessa in communities across the world that deserves the chance to see themselves beyond the words that cover their white sheets. It is because of this that HerSpace, Inc. was conceived.

The growing pains of HerSpace, Inc. has been what the typical pain of most start-up non-profits is: FUNDING! Founders have worked past this by sacrificing personal funds for the organization as well as leveraging personal and community networks for financial support. In addition, another growing pain has been creating a stronger branding package that sets us apart from other organizations that focus on the development of young girls. We have worked diligently this summer to develop a branding plan that clearly and concisely captures who we are in a way that sets us apart from the rest. We cannot wait for this branding plan to be executed and to see the response of the community and supporters to our mission as an organization.

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