To the editor:

Two years ago, I learned about an amazing, one-of-a-kind opportunity called the Initiators Fellowship, which is a partnership of West Central Initiative, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation, and the Southwest Initiative Foundation. I learned about it late in the process, and I applied anyway. A few months later I was selected to receive one of the seven fellowships from among 80 applicants.

The fellowship is designed to assist early-stage social entrepreneurs for two years by providing financial, educational, and professional network support. I feel so blessed to have been selected and, despite all the craziness of this past year, I feel like it has helped me grow the youth empowerment nonprofit I founded called P’s and Q’s Etiquette.

P’s and Q’s exists to help marginalized and disadvantaged youth in the Moorhead-Fargo area find their voice and power by developing the skills, knowledge and connections to be the leaders they were born to be. The Initiators Fellowship has provided me high-level business and leadership training, a professional mentor, connection to all kinds of resources and $30,000 a year of financial support so I’ve had the space to focus on developing my nonprofit and my local leadership.

When anyone with a good idea and passion for a cause asks me if they should apply for the fellowship, I tell them to go for it! I have learned so much, developed my leadership and found new friends and professional colleagues who support what I am doing. I think our local youth and our entire community benefit from my involvement in this program.

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So, check out the Initiators Fellowship website at greaterminnesota.net/fellows, take the eligibility quiz and apply if you are eligible. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take it from me!

Rachel Stone, 2020-21 Initiators Fellow

Moorhead, MN