by Deborah Hoover

Change:  the act or instance of making or becoming different
~Oxford Dictionaries

Burton D. Morgan Foundation is changing the way it pursues its entrepreneurship-focused mission.  We are not quite a year into implementing our new strategic framework, Venture 2021, and the work already feels different and better. We are streamlining our processes to become more nimble. We are out and about in Akron listening to ecosystem builders so we can better understand gaps we can help fill to enhance inclusivity for all entrepreneurs. We are completing work on a landscape assessment of the youth ecosystem and identifying areas where we can strengthen its assets.

We are working nationally with other entrepreneurship funders to give shape to the new and emerging field within philanthropy that connects grantmaking and ecosystem building. We are vigorously pursuing our knowledge sharing role, serving as a presenting sponsor for Deshpande Symposium coming to Cleveland in 2020 at the same time we are growing the annual Northeast Ohio Enspire conference for K-12 educators.

Emblematic of our culture shift is Morgan Scout Fund, our special grantmaking pool designed to help us test transformational ideas and apply adaptive grantmaking principles that allow for pivots and agility for new initiatives. Our initial Scout Fund grants include:

  • The glaring lack of entrepreneurship education embedded within Career-Technical Education (CTE) presents a ripe opportunity for Morgan Scout Fund to make a significant impact on entrepreneurial pathways. The Board has approved a grant to Woodridge Local School System to create teacher, student, business partner, and parent guides for an immersive, experiential education program designed to augment CTE programs and prepare youth for entrepreneurial careers in a variety of trades.
  • A second Morgan Scout Fund grant was made to University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF) to support a pilot of the Startup Teams Rising in the Development of Entrepreneurship (STRIDE) Accelerator. The STRIDE Accelerator will focus on hard tech, which includes any physical product or component based on new technology.  
  • Finally, the Changemaker Grants program will support programs, projects, and research efforts that address gaps in collegiate entrepreneurship in an innovative way. On October 23 the program will award up to five grants of $10,000 each in celebration of the tenth anniversary of JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council.

We are indeed in the midst of an exciting change for the better and we hope our Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem will be better for it. Thanks to our many partners for experimenting with us.