EASTER SEALS CENTRAL TEXAS

 

The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is twice as much as those without. Easter Seals Central Texas hopes to change that with a goal of reducing unemployment for people with disabilities by 10% by 2020. They were looking for new business models, alternative funding sources, and the right connections in the community to help achieve their goal.

 
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REVENUE STRATEGIES FOR ACCELERATOR GRADUATE

In April 2014, Easter Seals Central Texas pitched to a sold-out crowd at Philanthropitch. With an outstanding pitch, the Easter Seals team earned entrance into Greenlights’ first-ever Accelerator, a rigorous, four-month program designed to help enterprising nonprofits grow or scale an innovative program or service. Easter Seals was one of five Austin-based organizations that worked alongside nonprofit experts, business entrepreneurs, mentors and consultants to build out their business plan. ESCTX entered the Accelerator with hopes of growing Easter Seals Lawn & Landscape Services—a residential and commercial landscaping business that creates jobs for people with disabilities.

“Mission Capital brought very successful entrepreneurs to each meeting and we were able to hear from a host of people who have been in our shoes. To be given access to that level of expertise was amazing. After participating in the Accelerator, our business has taken off, and the ongoing support from Mission Capital has helped us grow our mission in such a successful way.” says Tod Marvin, CEO of Easter Seals Central Texas.

Mission Capital brings unparalled consulting and mentorship specifically suited for social enterprises like Easter Seals Lawn & Landscape. Upon completion of the Accelerator, Easter Seals Central Texas pitched its investor-ready business plans to more than 100 philanthropists, impact investors and community leaders to solicit multi-year funding. During this Demo Day, Easter Seals Central Texas received an additional $35,000 and three years of continued support.

Since then, Easter Seals has continued its involvement with Mission Capital and its partners, including receiving a $50,000 social impact loan from investors related to Mission Capital’s Alternative Financing Taskforce.

“For us to launch a fundraising campaign to secure this kind of funding would have taken months to get off the ground. Innovative approaches to philanthropy, such as this social impact loan, allows social businesses like ours to move at an accelerated pace,” says Tod Marvin, President & CEO of Easter Seals Central Texas

Beyond programmatic support, Mission Capital has access to a deep network of Austin’s entrepreneurs, business executives and nonprofit experts. Easter Seals became connected with BuildASign.com Founder and CEO Dan Graham, who introduced the organization’s leadership to Matt Hawkins, Co-Founder of Broomly.

“Mission Capital has introduced us to so many people in the community, and helped us build many relationships that would have taken us years to develop without them,” says Lucas Wells, Easter Seals Chief Program Officer.

In just one year, Easter Seal Central Texas has already seen substantial successes:

  • Implemented an innovative revenue model which helps sustain their core programs and services.
  • Restructured board committees to support new initiatives by with Social Venture Committee charged with exploring earned revenue streams. Their social venture model and committee structure has gained attention from Easter Seals affiliates throughout the country.
  • Redefined Lawn & Landscape customer acquisition strategy, growing from 28 to nearly 300 customers.
  • Formed a strategic partnership with Broomly, an Austin-based home services for-profit company.

Mission Capital helped us think differently and ask better questions. They’ve helped us rely less on typical nonprofit funding sources and drive better results,” says Lucas Wells, Easter Seals Central Texas’ Chief Program Officer.

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