First, let’s talk about the name and then describe Innové in a nutshell. Innové is the French word for “breaking new ground.”
Colonial Church invites proposals from idea-makers, 35-years-old and younger, residing in the greater Twin Cities region, to submit ideas for projects that “break new ground” for the sake of cultural betterment and human flourishing in accordance with gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.

Innové offers $250,000 for project grants, along with human resources, expertise, time, networking, creative community and acceleration toward a successful launch.

As for our objectives, we’re looking for “the GOODS”:

  • GOOD for the Gospel: To heed with humility and by faith, God’s calling to be salt and light in the world, working toward the promised new creation where righteousness, justice and love fully reside. To promote Christian gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.
  • GOOD for the World: To accelerate the successful launch of creative and faithful ideas that address major challenges in our world.
  • GOOD for the Idea-Makers: To enable faithful entrepreneurs to break new ground through identification, mentoring, creating, planning, funding, making, doing, growing, sustaining and celebrating.
  • GOOD for the Church: To excite and involve Colonial Church as incubators, innovators, accelerators and partners of new creative work in the world.

Let’s Grow Together!

Brian —  June 8, 2014

Does your idea have legs, but it doesn’t quite seem to run? It’s not easy to turn a dream into reality and young entrepreneurs can’t be expected to have a full set of skills necessary to launch their idea. Innové’s mission is to help you launch your world-changing idea successfully.

All semi-finalists will be paired with mentors who care about the person as much as they care about the project. We want this to be an encouraging, affirming, and fun experience! On top of that, our mentors – called Navigators – have expertise in mission, start-ups, finance, operations and more. These caring Navigators with a lifetime of experience can help to bring out the best from the idea and help shape it for a successful launch.

Semi-finalists will also gather for a one-day workshop to share ideas, and receive coaching toward success while building community together. The relationships you build will prepare you to launch your world-changing idea. Networking is important, and to be able to make connections with other young entrepreneurs who share your passion can be life-changing.

Finally, on top of our Navigators, we have dozens and dozens of Skills Coaches. Each of these Skills Coaches has a very practical area of expertise and each is available to you. Does launching your idea require legal help such as protection of IP? There are Skills Coaches available to you for that. Could you benefit from an hour with a financial wizard, or an expert in process or manufacturing? We have Skills Coaches for that. Skill Coaches can provide you with the practical tools to help you fill in the missing pieces of your idea, whatever that missing piece may be.

Our mission is to help you launch successful. Funding plays a large role in that, but so do practical skills. We are here to help you with both.

To give away money is an easy matter in anyone’s power, but to decide to whom to give it, how much to give, when to give, and to give for the right movie and in the right way, is neither in everyone’s power nor an easy matter. Hence, it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.


Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, Chapter 9, 350 BC

Innové in the Press

Brian —  June 7, 2014

We want to take a moment to aggregate some of the places where Innové has been featured by the media:

Innové made the cover of the current issue of The Congregationalist, the magazine that goes out to all Congregational churches. In addition to the cover, the story is on pages 28-29.

WCCO filmed a 90 second spot which aired in November on the evening news. The video and the full text can be found on WCCO’s website.

The Star Tribune has written two articles, one in their business section (Lee Schafer) and one in the lifestyle section (Rose French).

The Sun Current attended our April 21 celebration and write about that experience, plus gives a look at each of our protégés.

Tech {dot} MN wrote about Innové openness to invest with a mission for good in the emerging tech or mobile markets.

The Innové story was also shared in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Buisness (Biz) Journal, where each protégé was also highlighted.

Additionally, Innové has been face-to-face in many of the Twin Cities entrepreneurial gatherings. (MoJo MN) (Entrepreneur Meetup) (TiE MN Entrepreneul Kick-off)

Much of the Innové experience has been through the pairing of the experience of the Baby Boom generation with the passion of the Millennial generation. So why do we think Millennials and Boomers make a great team?

According to the latest census there are approximately 79 million baby boomers in the Unites States (give or take). Many of these Boomers will be retiring in the next 5-10 years, or launching encore careers growing out of their desire to do meaningful work. They plan to take the experience and skills they’ve accumulated from decades of work and put them to use on projects they think will have a positive impact on the world.

On the other end of the spectrum is the roughly 82 million Millennials, who sandwich 53 million Gen Xers. Perceived as self-centered, the tech-savvy Millennials are often hard for older generations to work with. Basic necessity tells us that Boomers and Millennials will be increasingly working side-by-side and we saw this to be the case with Innové, which we saw a powerful opportunity of what each generation can give.


One of our older members said to me after our protégé’s presented that “what she no longer had, but the protégés did, was energy.” I get what she was trying to say, but I think that Boomers do have energy, it just comes in the form of experience. If you’ve had the opportunity to sit with a Boomer and have them share with you what they’ve learned in their lives and it’s clear there is energy behind the words.

But this plays out very differently. Boomers have spent decades working and learning, gaining intangible wisdom that comes from a career of forming and living through relationships, experiences and projects. Along the way, their brains were wired for what they found to work.

Now they want to give back, passing along the things they have learned, so that they can make the world a better place for their kids and grandkids.

But did I mention that they have an often uneasy relationship with technology and how it works or what is possible with it?


Millennials, on the other hand, are digital natives. They’ve never known a world without smart phones and the cloud, and understanding and leveraging it comes naturally and intuitively for them. While Millennials might have years of education (and student debt) under their belts, they are fresh in the working world, having accomplished very little, if anything.

But also inherent is the desire to see the world a better place. But unlike Boomers – who might say they’ll give back upon retirement – the Millennials say, “why wait?” Baked into a MIllennials is an ability to work incredibly hard for something that feels meaningful to then, given that they are motivated to do so, that is.

Teaming Up

This creates a powerful opportunity to pair them up. But what should this tag team look like?

  1.  Focus on the mission, not the methods. Appeal to their shared sense of purpose by focusing on the underlying purpose, and not the process of how it will get done.Compare: “Our mission is to provide hospitality to the homeless families who will be staying in our church for the week.
    Versus: “Our mission is to place a bed in rooms 4,6, and 9, place 4 towels at areas A, B, and C, create 3 signs each saying…” You get the idea.

    This allows Boomers to convey the principles that experience has taught them works, while leaving flexibility in the methods, as the fresh eyes, enthusiasm, and technical skill that can bring great improvement. While they are working with a shared purpose, they are creating the process together.

  2. Over communicate. Boomers often think that they don’t know how to talk to a Millennial, yet they have a career of experience in building working relationship. This should give them a confidence. Meanwhile, the Millennials desire for personal growth and development should create a confidence that they can go to a Boomer for non-threatening advice.They should be communicating about everything, even difficult situations where one of them is frustrated, impatient, or confused. This brings the Boomer and Millennial together in an even better partnership.
  3. Require two-way teaching and learning. At times each should be leading, trusting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The Boomer can contextualize previous experience using specific examples and explanations of why certain approaches are more or less likely to work. Boomers can also proactively think about where the natural talent of the Millennial can come into play, inviting them to teach them about new software, models or tools that could aid the project.

We’ve found during the Innové process that this Boomer/Millennial pairing has been a match made in heaven.

A Chipmunk on the Train Tracks

Brian —  March 12, 2014

Innové aims to help brand new initiatives launch or to help existing initiatives scale. Some Innové initiatives are nothing more than an idea from a great social entrepreneur working to get it going and off the ground. Others have recently launched or have been operating for a couple of years and they are looking to scale their initiative for broader reach.

The two types are very different in need and approach.

It’s been said that a new organization is like eight small children chasing a chipmunk. There is lots of noise and confusion, scrambling in every direction, and a lot of wasted energy. The earliest stage of life for a new initiative is both motion and commotion, but not yet very much locomotion.

At this point almost nothing is done in an orderly way. Records are mess, thoughts and ideas are scribbled everywhere, and budgeting procedures can be haphazard. But there is great flexibility, unlimited motivation, a willingness to try new things, and the capacity to respond quickly!

To contrast, an organization with a couple of years to mature is generally quite orderly. It knows where it has been and has a good sense of where it is going. Procedures have been defined, there is a pecking order, and there is a patient advance along a settled path. It reminds you of a locomotive steaming down the tracks with everything functioning predictably and energy being transformed into forward motion. But this can lead to a decrease in learning and motivation, a little possibility of going anywhere except where the tracks lead.

Innové steps in to corral the chipmunk, our Navigators (mentors) and skills coaches giving valuable insight in terms of direction, procedure, budgeting, and discipline. Our aim is to help those idea-makers get on the right track.

On the flip side, our Navigators bring a fresh set of eyes that can bring zest, fresh thought, and renewed energy that is critical for existing organizations to go to the next level. We’re not looking to drive an initiative “off the rails”, but we will look where we can provide some steam.

Completely different needs, but our Navigators have seen it all.

Innové Deux

Charlie —  January 28, 2014

Colonial Church sponsored the enormously successful Innové initiative in 2012. We provided $250K in funding with invaluable coaching to a stunning collection of young Christian social entrepreneurs with a passion to serve the cause of Christ in the world.

The Church Council has enthusiastically endorsed planning for Innové Deux, a second round to operate much like round one, with multiple task forces committed to prayer, publicity, screening, navigating, coaching, Immersion Day planning, judging and incubating.

We anticipate not only a larger pool of applicants, but even greater participation by the congregation in round two. Innové Deux would commence with publicity in the fall of 2014, followed by an application deadline of early January 2015 and awards given in April 2015.

As with round one, Innové Deux will be open to any resident of the Twin Cities, 35 years old or younger, who affirms the Apostles’ Creed. Only round one Protégés (the 5 funded projects) would be ineligible for round two.

We will again grant $250,000.

It is important that Innové be an initiative of the church, funded by our faithful passion and personal commitments. We have eschewed external funding for this reason. Hopefully, other foundations and organizations that have offered financial support to Innové will match grants we give to future Protégés to expand their impact.

We held a series of gatherings this winter/early spring. In addition to raising pledges for Innové Deux, these gatherings provided wonderful opportunities for Colonial members to share memories of round one as well as hopes for round two.

We wanted to give all social entrepreneurs a little “spark.” This video is of Ryan Skoog, giving a message to social entrepreneurs during the closing session of our recent Innové Immersion event.


May it be a spark of creativity. A spark of hope. A spark of inspiration. A spark of encouragement.

Innové Presents Ryan Skoog

Ryan’s Bio
Ryan, co-founder of Venture Expedition, oversees finances, development, staff, and board. Ryan earned his MBA from University of Saint Thomas’s Schultz School of Entrepreneurship before founding two companies, Fly for Good and International Volunteer Card, which serve customers such as Harvard University, Invisible Children, and Youth With A Mission. He has presented and shared at colleges and churches internationally and has visited many places Venture works (such as Tibet, Burma, Kenya, and Zimbabwe) to spread the tangible love of Jesus. Ryan enjoys anything outdoors that involves adrenaline, such as skydiving, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, and mountain biking. Ryan and his wife, Rachel, have two ginger-headed kids, Colin and Sydney.

Innové Protégé Andrew Hanson from MATTOO spoke recently at a Bordertown Community event. He explains why is is critical for men to be involved in the fight against sex trafficking.

Innové Project in Edina Magazine

Brian —  December 4, 2013

Innové was featured in the Edina Magazine’s December issue. An excerpt:

For more than 50 years, Colonial Church members have embraced a tradition of funding missions and outreach, both locally and around the world. Colonial Church views itself as a “place to grow in Christ and serve the world.” Christian entrepreneurship seeks opportunities where service or products may be used to help, heal, restore, redeem or bring hope. Colonial Church is holding a fundraising campaign within its congregation in hopes of being able to hold another Innové project and empower more socially conscious nonprofits next September.

Please click here to read the full article.

Meet the Helper Squad

Brian —  December 2, 2013

Innové has also been active with social entrepreneurs beyond our protégés. Thomas O’Neill was a semi-finalist whose mission is Helper Squad, a concierge service to help seniors live with dignity in their homes longer. Although Helper Squad didn’t win a grant, our coaches have continued to walk with Thomas and help him in his launch.

Helper Squad was recently featured in the Sun Post. A sample:

“My work is with people that are coming to an age where they realize they’re not going to live forever and they come to a time when normal folks would retire or step away from their work … Nobody wants to move out of their house and go to a nursing home. They want to stay in their home as long as they can,” and the squad helps ensure that those people don’t take risks and hurt themselves when they try and do things they shouldn’t.”

It’s an excellent article. Click here to read it in its entirety.

Protégé in the News

Charlie —  November 13, 2013

Innové protégé, Anna Brelje, was featured in the Star Tribune’s Business Section discussing predatory Pay Day lending.

Anna Brelje, 33, recalled being trapped in a circle of payday-like cash advance loans from Wells Fargo about 10 years ago. She was working as a political organizer but couldn’t make ends meet because of medical bills.

One day she used a cash advance feature online with her Wells Fargo account. The cost only added to her debts, she said, and she used the loans for two years.

Brelje said a better job and financial counseling helped her dig out. She said she felt angry when a counselor told her she’d more paid $2,000 in fees. “I had no idea I was paying an APR of 700 percent,” Brelje said.

Spread the word!

Innové was featured in Christianity Today’s This is Our City project, which documents how Christians are responding to their cities’ particular challenges with excellence, biblical faith, and hope.

It begins:

I’ve always believed that the church exists on earth for the sake of mission—the tangible, embodied love of Christ. It’s the one thing we do on earth that we won’t do in heaven. More than well-done music and a well-honed sermon in a well-crafted building, the church is called to take up concrete things done with and for other people: feeding the hungry. Visiting the sick. Loving neighbors. Speaking truth. Loving enemies. Sharing the gospel.

Given this, it seems odd that many churches treat mission with nickel-and-dime efforts: a few hundred dollars a year to this agency, another check to that, a short-term trip here and there. Churches outsource much of their mission work to specialized organizations. Though both efficient and expedient, doing this has a way of teaching us to be donors instead of doers.

Arriving as the new minister at my church—a fairly affluent, Midwest, middle-aged, suburban church in the Congregational model—I became convinced that God was calling us to something we could we do together that none of us could do alone…

Click HERE to read the full story.

Learning Exchange on Strategy

Charlie —  October 1, 2013

One of our learning exchanges in our recent Innové Immersion Day was on Strategy, a thoughtful mindset that every young social entrepreneur needs. Here is Kevin Kickhaefer’s slide deck from the Immersion Day. Hope it is helpful and you seek to launch your venture!

Not only are we providing FREE LUNCH during our September 28 Immersion Day, but over that hour we’ll be hosting a panel discussion.

While you enjoy a delicious lunch (Did we mention it is free?), you’ll earn from our current Innové Protégés, all young social entrepreneurs who are presently in the trenches and  bringing their concept to scale.

Bob ThomasThey’ll share insights on their most significant lessons learned, what they wished they had known earlier, and much, much more. A question and answer time will follow.

Our Protégé Panel will be facilitated by Bob Thomas. Currently the Chief Experience Officer at the Twin Cities YMCA, Bob is a marketing and sales leader with 13 years of experience in mission led organizations, both for-profit and non-profit. As a member of Colonial Church for years, Bob, his wife Jennifer, and his two children are active in building a healthy and welcoming community of faith.

Click HERE for an introduction and a video look of the work of our panelists.

Three Marketing Moves You Need to Make Now

Jeff PopeLearn the three key marketing decisions you need to make early in your organization’s development about: why you exist, what you do, and how you make a difference. Plus a “bonus” move that will help create success. Facilitated by Jeff Pope.

Jeff holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His career includes stints as a consultant at KPMG and as a marketing manager at Pillsbury. After Pillsbury he co-founded a research and consulting firm based in the Twin Cities, which worked worldwide with Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Apple Computer, and Bank of America.

How to Pitch an Idea & Make Your Message Stick

Kristin GeerAs an entrepreneur with for-profit and non-profit experience, Kristin Geer knows how difficult it can be to get your foot in the door of potential donors, investors & clients.  In this Learning Exchange, she’ll share techniques that work to book those important meetings with decision-makers.  She’ll also show you how to create powerful presentations that will “wow” them and lead to action.  Finally, she’ll share valuable strategies to get your message to the masses without paying a dime for advertising. Facilitated by Kristin Geer.

An Emmy-award winning investigative reporter, Kristin Geer left television news after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005.  She founded the Cancurables Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for cancer research under a “mission-to-marketplace” business model.  In addition to her nonprofit work, Kristin also started her own television production studio, successfully producing regional and nationally syndicated television shows such as Kent Hrbek Outdoors, Blueprint for Green and the Gopher Coach’s Shows.  She has produced commercials and videos for major corporations such as Cargill, 3M, Cambria & KLN Enterprises.  Kristin lives in Edina with her husband Brad and 4-year-old daughter and is currently in the process of launching a new Faith-based social entrepreneurship venture.

Armstrong to Zimbabwe: Bringing Creative Ideas to Life

HughesMaking dreams become reality is one of the most difficult things we’ll ever do. Yet entrepreneurs are faced with this daunting task every day. Come to this brief session that will focus how to make ideas become a tangible reality. Facilitated by Eric Hughes.

Eric is currently Sr. Director of Product Development at Caribou Coffee. Prior to Caribou, he spent nine years leading the product innovation process around Dairy Queen’s food and treat business segments bringing to life ideas like the FlameThrower GrillBurger and S’mores Blizzard Treat. He currently resides in Edina, Minnesota with his wife Megan and children Brennan, Eleanor, and Jane.

How to Create a Strategy that Works

Kevin KickhaeferThis Learning Exchange will focus on developing a simplified approach to ensure a successful strategic plan for your organization. Strategy in it’s simplest form is choice. Simplified choice will decide the direction and success of your ideas. We will discuss and challenge these concepts as they relate to the future development of your company. Facilitated by Kevin Kickhaefer.

Kevin leads the national sales and distribution efforts across all segments and markets for Bloom Health. Kevin brings unique skills to Bloom Health having led national sales and new business initiatives for several fortune 500 Companies, being recognized nationally for leading the country in sales for both CIGNA Healthcare and Aetna Chicago. Kevin has presented at National Conferences on topics that cover private exchanges, defined contribution for health care and wellness initiatives for employers. Kevin has a B.S. in Finance & Accounting from Kansas State University. In his downtime, he manages a cattle ranch in Kansas and enjoys working out, golfing and spending time with his wife Suzanne, son Ty and daughter Chase.

The Importance of Partnerships

Paul-BertelsonForming strong, strategic partnerships is critical for success. Dig into all types of partnerships, from simple networking to strategic alliances and everything in between. No one gets started or succeeds alone. Facilitated by Paul Bertelson.

It’s hard for Paul to believe that a volunteer effort as a teenager showed him his purpose — a lifetime of ministry. As founder and CEO of YouthWorks! Inc, his life’s journey is a path that thousands of youth choose every year after experiencing a YW mission trip. Paul is the CEO of Real Resources, the umbrella that covers Youthworks!, Youth Specialties, Youth Enterprises, and Big Stuf Camps.  Paul also volunteers as a leader for YoungLife Capernaum.

What is a Learning Exchange?

Brian —  August 21, 2013

You may have looked at the schedule for our September 28 Immersion Day and noticed the term ‘learning exchange‘ as part of the programming. So what is a learning exchange?

We believe that some of the best learning comes from side to side, and not just from the top down. Our culture does an excellent job of teaching concepts from books, but it doesn’t do quite as well at preparing for on the ground realities.

That’s why a learning exchange is not a lecture. It is organized much more as a conversation, a means for each participant to both learn from each other and to teach each other.

However, that doesn’t mean that teaching won’t be done.  We have a team of highly experienced experts in their fields. They will begin each learning exchange by introducing the topic and sharing some thoughts to provoke and stimulate conversation. From that point they’ll turn the conversation over to everyone, knowing that you have unique experiences and wisdom that is gleaned by being a new practitioner in the field of social entrepreneurship.

As the conversation progresses our expert will continue to help steer and guide it, offering feedback, insight, and  encouragement. By the end of the learning exchange we think we’ll all feel like we learned a lot…from each other. In turn, it’s up to you to take that back into the field and use it to change the world.

Innové Goes Full Circle

Brian —  August 19, 2013

Colonial Church and The Sheridan Story have been connected for several months through the Innové Project. Rob Williams is a young social entrepreneur who went on to become an Innové Protégé, receiving financial support, education, and networking connections for his newly-formed charitable organization. The Sheridan Story works to create partnerships between churches and schools, providing logistics in providing weekend food for children. The Sheridan Story has scaled as a benefit of Innové’s investment, and now can announce that Colonial Church has entered into a partnership with Bethune Elementary for the 2013-2014 school year!

Colonial Church’s Minister of Mission, Brian Jones, has often shared that Colonial feels called to serve the community outside of the walls of their building in Edina, and they are doing exactly that. Through their sponsorship of Bethune, Colonial will make an incredible impact on the 300+ elementary students that attend the school. Colonial will provide volunteers and funding to launch The Sheridan Story in Bethune and will focus on strengthening an already developing partnership with the school.

Bethune Elementary is located in North Minneapolis and focuses heavily on developing partnerships with families and within the community in order to better serve their students. Bethune integrates arts and technology into school curriculum and focuses on building self-confidence and respect for others. Bethune is excited about the potential for the partnership with Colonial and The Sheridan Story to positively impact their student population, 99.7% of which is on free/reduced lunch and 30% of which is homeless or highly mobile.

Colonial Church launched the Innové Project for the purpose of investing in young social entrepreneurs like Rob Williams of The Sheridan Story. Now the relationship has come full circle as Colonial is able to engage wit hthe mission of The Sheridan Story through partnering with Bethune School in a hands-on manner.

More about the Sheridan Story here.

What to expect on April 21

Brian —  April 15, 2013

April 21 is the day that our 6 Protégés will share their presentations to the community. It’s an opportunity to get to know both the projects a little better, but to get to know the presenters as well. The full schedule of the morning will begin with our 9am worship service, followed by brunch.  At 10:45am we will gather again in the Meetinghouse for a time set aside solely for our Innové presentations.

This will be a fun event, open to all. In addition to the presentations from our 6 Protégés, our band will be on hand, as will our judges, sharing some of the reasons they chose these 6 as Protégés.

Finally, the entire audience will get a opportunity to cast a vote for the Protégé they think is most deserving of a $3,000 bonus, provided by the Colonial Foundation. While this vote in no way effects the decision of our judges, it does provide an opportunity for everyone to voice their individual enthusiasm for a particular Protégé.

Again, this is open to all. Please join us at Colonial Church as we celebrate our Protégés and cheer them on into the next step of the Innové process which is to provide a successful incubation and launch.

  • 9am Worship in the Meetinghouse 
  • 10am Brunch
  • 10:45am Innové Protégé presentations in the Meetinghouse


Our Runners-up

Brian —  April 12, 2013

We were thrilled with the quality of our semi-finalists. To have made it that far into the process meant they had an incredibly compelling and feasible idea. Each semi-finalist approached the Innové process with enthusiasm and passion. While each of them received valuable mentoring, coaching, and support, we could unfortunately only fund a select few.

In short, while our runners-up didn’t ultimately become Innové Protégés, we think the world of these applicants and want to share them with you once again in the chance that your passions might align with theirs and create an opportunity for future partnerships with you.

Again, these runners-up have incredible potential and here they are in alphabetical order:

Ben Beard

Camden Neighborhood Development Redeeming neighborhoods by cultivating community and building hope.

Alex Campion

The Center for Girls’ Leadership Inspiring Girls Today to Lead Tomorrow

Keiona Cook

The Art of Sewing for Youth Touch the Hearts & Minds of Youth through the Art of Sewing

Tony Ducklow

Youth Forum You build the Kingdom, we’ll bring the fun.

Rachel Finsaas

Daylight Center and School in Kenya Educating young leaders to transform Kenya’s war-torn, nomadic culture.

Kent Goodroad

Redeemer Music Arts Academy Enriching peoples lives by building lifelong skills through music.

Jack Jorgensen

GoVo A web-based service that connects volunteers with local volunteer opportunities.

Mike Keller

Rock Ridge Dogsledding Adventures & Wilderness Ministry Transforming lives for Christ through dogsledding adventures and wilderness ministry.

Corey Magstadt

Launch Ministry: Making Successful Transitions Into Adulthood Launching emerging adults into their God given potential.

Thomas O’Neill

Helper Squad Helping aging adults live longer in their homes in comfort and dignity.

Ben Post

Social Venture Construction Company Deconstruct disparities through employment and business development opportunities.

Jesse Ross

Christian Role Models for Kids in Under-Resourced Communities: WyldLife Introduce disinterested adolescents to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.

Gabriel Rysdahl

I-ImpactNow Connect students and communities with cooperative development opportunities.

Marcos Stoltzfus

Seed-to-City Working in fellowship, growing healthy food for our neighbors in need. Click here to learn more.

The Sheridan Story

Brian —  April 12, 2013

Mission: To fight child hunger through community and school partnerships.

The Sheridan Story fights child hunger by providing hungry children with a supply of non-perishable food for the weekend. Instead of The Sheridan Story simply dropping off food at a school, which results in little relationship, we enable and facilitate the development of partnerships between churches and schools.

Over 212,000 children in Minnesota live in food insecurity; over 100,000 of those are in the Twin Cities. Studies have indicated that children who participate in programs that provide a weekend food supply experience increased self-esteem, improved behavior at school, better academic performance, significant improvement in standardized test scores, increased interest in school, and better relationships with school personnel.

The Sheridan Story’s role begins with facilitating partnerships between churches and the schools. After the partnership is formed, our role intentionally moves into the background. There, The Sheridan Story manages the operations of the food portion of the project. The Sheridan Story’s operational role allows churches to focus on partnering with the school to distribute food to the children while also developing an intentional relationship with the school. In addition to our goal of providing food to hungry children, The Sheridan Story endeavors to build church-to-school partnerships that will result in a stronger sense of community, opening doors to other opportunities for the churches to serve their partner schools.


Since it’s inception (and its involvement with Innové) The Sheridan Story has grown from one school, Sheridan School, to forming 8 church-to-school partnerships. Every Friday, these partnerships provide food for the weekend to about 500 children who live in food insecurity. Full implementation of The Sheridan Story into these schools would result in an estimated 1500 children receiving food every weekend.

Click HERE to learn more about The Sheridan Story or to donate to their mission to fight child hunger.

Twin Cities Mobile Market

Brian —  April 12, 2013

Mission: To strengthen low-income communities by increasing access to healthy food.

The Twin Cities Mobile Market endeavors to solve the problem of food deserts, which are low-income urban areas where people do not have access to affordable, healthy food because they live in neighborhoods without a grocery store. Instead, these areas are overrun with convenience stores and fast food restaurants that sell highly processed junk food. For those without a car or limited transportation, getting to a grocery store to buy food is a huge challenge. As a result, many resort to feeding their families off the “value menu” or whatever they can find at the gas station.

Research shows that socio-economic factors such as where a person lives impacts a person’s health even more than the healthcare they receive. In the Twin Cities, people living in poverty are more than twice as likely to be obese and to have diabetes. To compound the issue, many low-income people live in food deserts where they don’t have access to food that promotes health. The two largest food deserts in the Twin Cities are North Minneapolis and the East Side of St. Paul where approximately half of residents are poor.

We will achieve this mission by launching the Twin Cities Mobile Market – a nonprofit grocery store on wheels that brings fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods to “food deserts” and other underserved communities. Our goal is to provide healthy and fresh food at or below market prices in order to make it more affordable for those with limited incomes.

We will use a a city bus that we will convert into a mini-grocery store stocked with vegetables, fruits, dairy items, frozen meats, canned goods, rice, beans, and other basic staples. People shop in the mobile market like they would in a grocery store. Customers can pay using a variety of payment options, including credit, cash, food stamps and WIC.

We are passionate about this project, in part, because we both grew up in poverty and experienced food insecurity during our childhoods. Unfortunately, the problem continues to grow: the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is widening. We seek to bring reconciliation between these groups. Driven by our Christian values, we seek to address the social injustice of food deserts by demonstrating love to our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate by acting in service through the Twin Cities Mobile Market. The Bible calls us to love one another – and we believe we can fulfill this call by recognizing the needs of those around us and acting to address social inequities.

Our strategy is to partner with organizations, local farmers, and other suppliers to purchase food at wholesale prices. As a social enterprise, we’ll maintain pricing high enough to cover basic operational costs but lower than those of a bricks and mortar grocery store. As a result, we plan to offer food at prices at or below market rates, making healthy food both accessible and affordable for people living in poverty.



Brian —  April 12, 2013

Mission: Significantly reduce sex-trafficking by educating males about its myths and realities.

Human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal market in the world with an estimate of 27 million enslaved globally. The average age of entry into prostitution in the US and other developed countries is 13 years old. For developing countries the average age is 11.

While 80% to 90% of all human trafficking is sex trafficking and while this growth is primarily from the demand of men and boys, there has never been a more important time than now for an organization with MATTOO’s educational mission to exist and grow. To our and many others’ knowledge, MATTOO is the first organization to focus on this “demand side,” and will shortly have the first education program – that has been designed primarily by men for men and boys.

Bringing it closer to home and according to the FBI, Minneapolis is ranked 13 among US metro areas that have the highest level of human trafficking. This is from having 2 interstate highways, an international airport, an international port city (Duluth), a neighboring country and Indian reservations, where desperate poverty creates desperate circumstances.

MATTOO has a simple but profound saying:

“If there were no buyer, there would be no seller. If there were no seller, there would be no victim.”

MATTOO has seen tremendous success in transforming all types of men into champion’s of our message, and we are confident that God will continue to guide and equip us to make a powerful and lasting impact that leads to a decrease in sex-trafficking globally.

MATTOO was founded to address the “demand” side of sex trafficking by educating males on the myths and realities of sex trafficking. Our experience has shown one of the best ways to achieve our mission is to leverage events, conferences, public schools, prisons and other groups by empowering them with quality materials to educate their audiences.

Beyond Limits

Brian —  April 12, 2013

Mission: Independent living in a Christian college setting for young adults with disabilities.

Beyond Limits, a collaborative partnership venture based at Bethany College, will offer a two year residential post-secondary Christian campus experience and a Beyond Limits life skills certificate for qualified young adults with developmental disabilities. The program includes a customized selection of audited Bethany classes, independent living skills courses, and on-campus job placement and coaching to gain work skills in Bethany’s student work-study program.

The Students:
A selection process for students will be developed to ensure the success of the students and Beyond Limits. Applicants will be screened for appropriate social interaction and evaluated to help determine an ability to live semi-independently in a college setting.

The Strategy:
The challenges and obstacles associated with building such a program are varied and complicated. We will employ skilled, caring and daring individuals to help create, implement and monitor Beyond Limits. Initially, mini residential experiences will be offered to assess challenges, evaluate possibilities and develop strategies. A target date of September 2014 is set for the first full semester.

Housing will be secured at Bethany’s on-campus apartments and dorms. Beyond Limits students will live together along with requited, trained and compensated Bethany Students who will help to ensure the success and safety of Beyond Limits students.

Typical Day:
Programming will include all aspects of a campus life typical for Bethany College students.
– Three to four hours a day of campus jobs will help students gain work skills. All Bethany students participate in this work-study program.
– One or two audited classes selected from Bethany’s current offerings based on student’s interests and abilities.
– One or two life skills classes designed specifically for the needs of Beyond Limits students.
– Three meals a day on the Bethany meal plan and inclusion at all Bethany College activities including chapel services, field trips, and college events.

The staff will consist of:
• Executive Director (develop, implement and lead programatic ministry to achieve outcomes)
• Administrator/Case Manager (support operational functions; guide students and parents in developing a personalized program that allows participants to succeed)
• Associate staff to include these part time and volunteer positions:
– Residential support (Bethany students, interns and staff to guide, monitor, assist, and help trouble shoot for Beyond Limits students).
– Instructors (Current Bethany professors and volunteer life skills instructors. Will direct students in and out of classroom learning environments).
– Campus pastor (Volunteer position. Will help students deepen their relationship with Jesus).

The Helpery

Brian —  April 12, 2013

Mission: Empowering people living in extreme poverty with every business transaction.

Three years ago we started Latitude a B2B company focusing on strategy, design, digital marketing, and production management. We started this company with a simple idea to do good business and do good. From the beginning we’ve donated 50% of all profits to empower people living in extreme poverty and built a sustainable business with the remainder of our profits. The model and the business are solid and in just over three years we have grown Latitude to $12.5M in annual revenue and given over $969,965 to give people in poverty a hand up.

To reach a broader audience, we are creating a direct to consumer website,, for individuals who want personalized items such as business cards, calendars, signage, etc. will deliver quality printed materials to its customer base while educating them about how their purchase has helped people around the world. will be a conduit that connects people doing everyday business to people in need. As this happens the buyer will be educated and empowered about how their purchase is changing lives and may become more connected with humanity around the world.

We will set the standard for social responsibility in our field and everyone is welcome to join in. We encourage competition to create and do good business, to create a platform based on great values, to create a platform to serve people all over the world to the fullest, and to use our God given talents to unite people around the world.

God expects us to use out time, talents, and treasures to serve one another. By building we are combining talents so that we can work towards exponential results to serve an awesome and mighty God. is a reflection of God’s love and is being built on Kingdom values to create solutions and serve the poor.