Entrepreneurs are forced to navigate unfamiliar, often-confusing terrain, and without proper guidance, even the most innovative ideas, products and services might fizzle.
Since its inception in 2011, the Social Innovation Lab (SIL) has provided the nonprofits and mission-driven for-profits it accelerates with intensive one-on-one support, but this year’s cohort will have even more opportunities for mentorship.
In addition to funding, office space and workshops, this year’s SIL cohort has access to four new mentors. These new advisors will join three returning mentors to help SIL’s ventures meet their goals and milestones.
“Among the many ways that SIL supports ventures in the cohort, mentorship is consistently rated as the most helpful and transformational resource the ventures receive,” says SIL Director Darius Graham. “SIL’s mentors come with varying levels of experience and from different industries and play a key role in moving the ventures forward.”
Devika Menon and Matt Barr, master’s students in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Center for Social Design, will serve as Social Design Fellows to provide hands-on support as peer-advisers to the 10 ventures in SIL’s 2016-2017 cohort in the areas of program design and visual design.
“Devika and Matt will bring a unique perspective that helps our ventures integrate social design principles as they seek to make an impact,” Graham says.
Nan Rohrer will serve as SIL’s Neighbor-in-Residence, a mentor who will provide the cohort with connections in the community and a deep knowledge of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, community organizations and local government. Rohrer has experience leading initiatives in the mayor’s office, a city agency and at the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
“Nan will be a critical resource for our ventures that aim to make an impact locally,” says Graham, noting that nine of the 10 teams in this year’s cohort have a local focus.
Joining the existing Innovators-in-Residence group is Xavier Hughes, the Chief Innovation Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.
Hughes will join three returning Innovators-in-Residence: Thread CEO and Co-founder Sarah Hemminger, Shea Yeleen International Founder Rahama Wright, and GuideStar VP of Strategic Partnerships Adrian Bordone. Each will hold monthly office hours in which they provide one-on-one support to teams.
“I’m delighted to welcome Xavier and welcome back Sarah, Rahama, and Adrian as SIL’s Innovators-in-Residence,” Graham says. “This impressive group of leading social innovators with a broad range of experience will support our ventures with key insights and connections.”