613 Seeds of Social Entrepreneurship in Chicago: Bringing Advertising to Nonprofits & Other Ideas

613 is not only the number of mitzvot that we find in the Torah or the number of seeds that we find in the pomegranate, a symbol of fruitfulness, knowledge and wisdom, but it is also the name of the JCC Chicago’s social entrepreneurship incubator, Seed613. Seed613 promotes social entrepreneurial initiatives designed to meet the needs of the Chicago Jewish community but also the community at large, moving forward.

This year’s cohort of 17 passionate social entrepreneurs presented their ideas during the Launch Night (May 17) to a packed house at 1871 Chicago, home to nationally recognized accelerators, industry-specific incubators, and tech talent schools. The ideas for social enterprises ranged from throwing parties with a purpose, sophisticated dining for networking, wearable technology in healthcare to ventures in real estate and Jewish programming.

Having spent the past 10 years working and volunteering in non-profit sectors, I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous projects and leadership seminars, but none of them was quite like Seed613. With its hands-on approach and focus on the development of an actual business plan for a venture with a social dimension, this highly selective 12-week bootcamp provides fellows with the real-world skills leading to putting their business and financial plans into action and bringing their ventures to the market.

When I applied to become a Seed613 fellow, I was working on a few non-profit projects for which entrepreneurial skills would be very handy. However, at the same time, I had long wanted to develop a project of my own and Seed613 seemed like a perfect opportunity to learn the business ways. I didn’t come with a precise idea and the fact that I was expected to bring that non-existent idea to life in 12 short weeks came as a surprise to me at first, but then quickly turned into a great challenge.

What I had, though, when I joined the bootcamp was a great passion for arts, advertising and causes, so I merged them all together. I decided to focus on helping non-profits promote their causes by connecting them to millennial artists – and this is how creative: for good came to life. Advertising is an expensive enterprise, even for businesses, but non-profits, which often have very limited marketing budgets, struggle with producing visually appealing imagery that would help them raise awareness about their causes and generate broader support. I am glad I was able to participate in Seed613 and help me bring creative: for good to life.