Beautiful Day in Rhode Island
We're taking a short break from talking about granola to share this introduction to our (still-being-written) plan for a new non-profit:
On March 30, 2012, a gorgeous spring day in Rhode Island, we filed articles of incorporation to establish a new non-profit. Our mission: to create on-ramps to employment for refugees and other low-income, underserved populations.
We envision accomplishing our goal through two primary means:
a) on-the-job training—partnering with local, for-profit businesses to provide real, paying, educational jobs;
b) establishing Rhode Island’s first business incubator designed for low-income refugees and immigrants.
Because we believe that this endeavor offers a way for people whose lives have been shattered to move forward one hopeful day at a time, we named this non-profit “Beautiful Day.”
One of our motivating convictions is that work is far more than a paycheck, but rather a vital expression of being human, of having and using gifts. If this is true, then motivated people who desperately want to work (such as refugees) should have access to work as a basic need or right. For someone who has never worked in the US, the first step is any work; a foot in the door of the job-market. A secondary step is meaningful work, which is why we’re so interested in business incubation.
While running a microbusiness may not initially provide a higher standard of living than an entry level job, for a certain kind of person it offers an opportunity for challenge, growth, life-long learning, and hope that can be incredibly fulfilling and dignifying. If new immigrants have the drive to start a business, then we’d like to provide them with the opportunity. Certainly not all will succeed, but even those that “fail” would offer young entrepreneurs invaluable practical learning and acculturation comparable to years in a classroom. And those that do succeed will stabilize families, energize and motivate entire minority groups, and build bridges with the wider community.
A successful business can never be separated from a wider community of consumers. Sometimes it might cost a few extra pennies for consumers to redirect purchases towards new local businesses; other times it will save them money. But multiplied, these small daily choices have the power to move people off welfare, bridge cultural gaps, and help revitalize our local economy. Beautiful Day is excited about creating “win-win” situations that enable businesses, service agencies, and consumers to align their interests with the needs of our state’s most vulnerable people.
This document represents an early draft of our vision, goals, values, and strategy, along with some of our ongoing questions. We are very aware that we, along with other social entrepreneurs, are entering uncharted territory where business, education, and social mission are maneuvering to overlap in non- and for-profit (and hybrid) entities. The legal and accounting challenges are daunting, yet we don’t see a better way to create opportunity for those on margins of the American educational, language, and cultural systems. Non-profits could start spinning off for-profits; for-profits could start embracing education and service. The economic ingenuity so common in developing nations could be given a chance to flourish in our cities as well. We’re excited to see what might happen.
We are sharing this document with you as a next step in gathering a group of partners who might support this endeavor. By support we mean of all kinds, small and large; this could include anything from feedback on this plan, volunteering with us, professional counsel, directing us toward new resources, setting up appointments with potential investors, consideration of being on our board, committing financial support.
We would love to talk to you about anything here, so please feel free to contact us.
Keith Cooper (co-owner Providence Granola Project)
Ben Thorp (owner
(Stay tuned. If you would like a copy of our plan, please send us an email--and be patient, since it might take a few more weeks.)