Free social entrepreneur program in the Bronx offers $10K in grant money

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Applications for a free social entrepreneur program in the Bronx that is offering a $10,000 prize are now open.

Maurelhena Walles is the founder and CEO of Equity Design, which focuses on improving health and physical activity in the Bronx.

“What we're trying to do is close the gap between health and wealth,” says Walles.

Last year, Equity Design won the second-place prize in the “Communitas America's Social Ventures Program,” taking home $5,000 to help get the company up and running.

The non-profit's, free, three-month program is designed to support local, social entrepreneurs.

“So, a social entrepreneur is someone who has a business idea that will you know generate revenue for them or for the community, but it's also tackling a problem in the community,” says Esmeralda Herrera, director of programs at Communitas America.

Participants meet once a week at Hostos Community College, hearing from speakers and mentors who help them advance their business plans. At the end, everyone gives a final presentation to compete for a $10,000 grant.

“As long as they graduate the program, and then pitch, the community, decides collectively who will get the $10,000,” says Herrera.

Anyone 18 years and older is welcomed to apply. Applications are due Feb. 21.
“There's no such thing as the best opportunity, it happens whenever you start it,” says Walles.

Walles says the most valuable resource of Communitas, is the community connections you can make.

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