I began working with UNP’s Startup Incubator (Incubator) as an MPA student in fall 2018 with Stephany Murguia, Dr. Jesus Valero, and Saolo Betham. My research studied ways to expand the resources of the Incubator for emerging organizations in the community. I am now working to implement more supports for the Incubator participants. Following are highlights of the work of the Incubator.
During 2019, some exciting partnerships have been created to further support Incubator participants. University of Utah Advanced Writing professor, Nancy Jensen, has recruited her students to assist emerging organizations with their work. The students have spent many hours finding and applying for grants and consulting with the organizations on future projects. Master of Public Administration Program Director & Professor, Dr. Sharon Mastracci, has committed her support by providing funding for a graduate assistant to work part time in the Incubator. Dr. Mastracci is partnering with the Incubator because of her passion for the important work that community-based nonprofits do.
Griffith-Yates Philanthropy founder, Georgina Griffith-Yates, also partners with the Incubator. Georgina’s team donated their time and services to developing the new branding, marketing, and logo for the Westside Leadership Institute and its connected partnerships, as well as one of the Incubator’s participants, Comunidad Materna en Utah. If you stop by the Incubator in the UNP Hartland Partnership Center, you will find a new name and logo on the window – Startups by Westside Leadership Institute.
This fall, the Incubator also sponsored emerging organizations’ attendance to the annual Utah Nonprofit Association Conference at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley. There were keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and opportunities to make connections and collaborate with others in the community. This was a very positive experience for the Incubator organizations to become connected with the larger nonprofit community.
There are currently seven organizations flourishing in the Incubator. The newest is the Somali Bantus of Utah, led by local resident Abdikadir Eftin. Abdikadir is a law student at the University of Utah. He and a team of like-minded, passionate Somali Bantus worked diligently to receive their 501(c)3 nonprofit status recently. Their mission is to provide programming and support for Somali Bantus teens through after school programming, weekend seminars, and mentorship. This fall, they took teens to visit college campuses and are now helping them with university and college admission applications and completing the FAFSA form.
The work of the organizations in the Incubator is incredibly valuable to west side communities. These emerging organizations provide a plethora of services, including: exercise classes for Latinos with Alzheimer’s; art education classes from Mexico; sports for Pacific Island teens; doula services and postpartum support for Latinx mothers; and a weaving group for individuals from the Karen Community of southeast Myanmar (which is open to the public). I feel very fortunate to work with these amazing, talented, and service-oriented individuals. They are finding ways to come together to address community-identified needs and to make a difference in the lives of people they serve.
In 2020, we will be introducing new Workshops and Fundamentals by the Westside Leadership Institute to Incubator organizations, and look forward to seeing the great work they perform in the community.
Rachel A. Black, Graduate Assistant, Master of Public Administration, University of Utah