Ken Snoddy got some strong encouragement from the Social Good Summit yesterday, and some great ideas to move is Race to Destiny project forward.
So much encouragement and so many ideas, in fact, that he’s a little worried he won’t be able to actually make them happen.
“I don’t know, it might be a little tough because I’m a, I don’t want to say a mom and pop shop but this is the organization right here,” Snoddy said, referring to just himself, after making a five-minute “pitch” and spending 90 minutes hearing from community members who wanted to help.
The project he pitched, Race to Destiny, is an “interactive board game around conversations, that fosters conversations around race.” Snoddy has recruited and trained several facilitators and game masters to oversee those conversations and help make them productive.
Snoddy, a police officer on the Central District community policing team in his day job, conceived the idea several years ago, after the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released the now-infamous Race to Equity Report.
“It was after the Race to Equity Report came out and everybody’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s real?’” Snoddy said. “Then I also felt like a year or two years after that it just felt like business as usual, losing steam, we’re still in the same place we were in before even though those numbers came out.”
So Snoddy has spent the last couple of years recruiting his team and developing his game, and his conversations, and now it might be time to grow. He came to the Social Good Summit, one of more than 55 events that make up Forward Festival, for some help in doing that. Madison365 is the media sponsor of Forward Festival.
About 100 people — nonprofit executives, financial professionals, marketing people, concerned and engaged citizens — listened to eight five-minute presentations on nonprofit startups or social projects, then broke into groups, each person choosing the project they wanted to help. The groups then spent the rest of the day brainstorming ideas to help the project grow or reach specific goals, and creating action plans to move forward.
This was the third annual Social Good Summit, a collaborative effort between The Collaboration for Good, Horizon Coworking and Doyenne Group. The effort is intended to help nonprofits, for-profit companies with a social mission, or just projects without any organizational structure get up and running without relying on grant funding. It’s been one of the signature events of Forward Festival for the past three years.
“I feel like nonprofits need to change to a more entrepreneurial approach,” says Collaboration for Good founder Alnisa Allgood, one of the organizers of the summit. “So many people push (nonprofits) into, you go out, you get a grant, then you’re beholden. Then they spend the next ten years chasing one small grant here and another small grant there. We definitely want more nonprofits and more social enterprise to grow. We also want for-profit entities to really think about what they’re doing and how it can impact this community.”
One of the projects without an organizational structure behind it — and therefore no easy means to raise funds — is Colorcoded, a “a multi tier pipeline approach to attracting minorities, girls and low income youth to computing careers,” started and run by UW-Whitewater associate professor of information technology Christina Outlay — one of a very small number of Black women in that field.
Colorcoded started in 2015 as an after school program for fifth-graders. It has developed to the point that the first cohort, now seventh graders, have begun mentoring younger kids, and getting paid to do it.
Paid from Outlay’s own pocket.
And, if things go according to plan, those kids will get into IT internships as they enter high school. The question is, how to pay for it.
“What I’m doing now is working on establishing the structure to make it official,” Outlay said. “And then we’ll have revenue to pay (the students) from.”
Outlay said she got a long list of ideas from her workgroup at the Social Good Summit.
“Oh, man, I’ve gotten some amazing suggestions regarding how to establish Colorcoded as its own entity,” she said. “Right now it’s a project, a program that I fund, and UW-Whitewater helps me to operate, but I did not want to establish a nonprofit company just because of the amount of work that’s involved. I’ve gotten three great ideas that are ways that I can still achieve my program’s objectives without establishing a nonprofit entity. I’ve also gotten lots of very creative ways to earn revenue for Colorcoded that can then be used to pay the youths who participate. Not limited to asking companies for money and not including charging them. Because charging the youth is not an option.”
Charging the youth is not an option, she says, because it could create barriers to participation.
Snoddy and Outlay were two of eight organizations or projects who presented pitches to the Social Good Summit. An additional half-dozen projects had booths with information and were available for discussion.
Those projects were selected from about 25 projects that applied, Allgood said. She said they were selected mainly for their readiness to grow. She stressed that not being selected was not a reflection on any project’s worth.
“Some people, just going through the evaluation process, realized, ‘Oh, maybe we’re not as ready as we thought we were,’” Allgood said.
The event generated not only ideas for projects and organizations to grow, but important networking opportunities and connections for future collaboration. And then there was something a bit more intangible.
“They came out with ideas just because of the energy of the event,” Snoddy said. “And then people’s interests and different things and then again, just the energy of the event. “
Snoddy says he hopes he can take “the momentum that I’m getting here and keep it moving. Just keep it moving.”
Forward Festival continues with a total of more than 55 events focussing on entrepreneurship and community engagement through August 25. See the full lineup of events at forwardfest.org.