The New Jersey Social Innovation Institute, which will train entrepreneurs to launch ventures combining business enterprise with a social mission, was launched today by Rutgers Business School, Public Service Enterprise Group, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Support Center for Nonprofit Management.
Rutgers professor Jeffrey Robinson, assistant director of the school’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, said during a press briefing at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, in Newark, that the institute is being funded with $100,000 from a federal grant. By mid-December, the institute will chose 16 teams from among applicants with ideas for social ventures, and applicants can be nonprofits or individuals that want to start a social enterprise.
“This idea is not new — it has worked in Louisiana and other countries, and now is the time to bring it to New Jersey,” Robinson said. “If you do this kind of work with a mission and still play in the marketplace, you need certain skills and training.”
The teams will receive training and mentorship from PSEG, the Support Center and the Labor Department. Richard Constable, deputy Labor commissioner, said his department has funds to help subsidize wages of some of the people hired by these new ventures and will provide training grants of up to $5,000 per worker.
“When the teams are successful, and we have 16 new businesses, we can help subsidize the cost of employment. We have tens of thousands of dollars in aid to hire an individual who was incarcerated or on welfare, or is disabled,” Constable said.
Vaughn McKoy, president of the PSEG Foundation, said, “PSEG is bringing to the table a conference facility in our building and multiple disciplines from accounting and finance” to provide “skill-based volunteers to those who are chosen” to launch social ventures. He said social ventures that hire employee can help solve social problems and help the community as a whole.