Urban Creators cofounder Alex Epstein is a national finalist for this social innovation fellowship - Generocity Philly

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Aug. 11, 2016 12:45 pm

Urban Creators cofounder Alex Epstein is a national finalist for this social innovation fellowship

The 25-year old social entrepreneur is one of 11 finalists for the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship in Chicago.

Alex Epstein.

(Courtesy photo)

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to reflect that BHSI Fellowship was created with Chicago Ideas, not by Chicago Ideas. Edit 8/12 @ 10:45 a.m. Editor's note: This piece has been updated to reflect that Life Do Grow Farm is based in North Central Philadelphia, not Kensington. Edit 8/15 @ 11:55 a.m.
Urban Creators may be seven years old, but cofounder Alex Epstein says the organization is still “very much in a grassroots-startup phase.” For instance, none of the folks running the program on North Central Philly’s Life Do Grow Farm — not even Epstein — are full-time.

That could change after this weekend.

Epstein is one of 11 semi-finalists in the running for the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellowship, a program created with Chicago Ideas that grants $10,000 each to four young social entrepreneurs with ventures that address “significant social challenges.”

Epstein also made the finals last year, and though this is the fourth year he’s applied for the fellowship, he said he was invited back to apply this year.

That $10,000 could change the game for Epstein.

“We don’t have the money yet to pay ourselves full-time wages,” he said. “All of us have other jobs to pay the bills and sustain ourselves.”

Having some extra cash in his pocket would lend him the financial freedom and capacity to commit to Urban Creators full time. But even more than the money, he said, is access to a robust network of practitioners.

“Being part of this fellowship would give us capacity to solidify the model we’ve built here in Philly,” he said. “I think they’re interested in bringing the model to Chicago.”

We’ll be following up.

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