HUTCHINSON - The Southwest Initiative Foundation is offering a unique program focused on rural renewal and training up-and-coming leaders through social entrepreneurship.

The Initiators Fellowship program can help individuals who want to help solve a social issue and need the resources to launch a business or nonprofit for that goal.

Applications for the 2020-21 cohort opened May 15 and close July 15. The two-year fellowship will award a $30,000 annual stipend to up to seven early stage entrepreneurs who want to tackle a social challenge and pursue leadership growth.

In addition to the annual stipend, fellows benefit from an executive-level mentor, programming, educational opportunities and support from dedicated staff members. A complete definition of social entrepreneurship and other details can be found at greaterminnesota.net/fellows/resources/.

According to a news release about the program, eligible applicants must be 18 or older, can be a recent college graduate, a young professional, mid-career or in their encore career years. Additional requirements include living within one of the three participating Minnesota Initiative Foundation regions, or an adjacent tribal nation, for the two-year duration of the fellowship term.

Diversity is a core program value. Applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ability, economic status and perspectives are encouraged to apply.

The fellowship was launched by the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls in 2016 and is now expanding to include the regions of Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative, covering a total of 41 counties in Greater Minnesota. Stories about past fellows can be found at greaterminnesota.net/fellows/fellow-alumni/

"The Initiators Fellowship is a big, bold strategy that provides the next generation of regional leaders the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society's needs and contributing to rural revitalization while building the business and leadership capacity of Greater Minnesota," said Chris Fastner, Initiators Fellowship program manager.

To register for a July 10 webinar on the fellowship, see https://swifoundation.org/event/initiators-fellowship-informational-webi...

To apply for the fellowship, visit https://greaterminnesota.net/fellows/