FROM POLLEN MIDWEST
The Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), one of the nation’s 1,100 Community Action Agencies, is a regional leader in the fight against poverty. It develops a portfolio of self-sustaining social enterprises that meet the new and changing needs of its clients while creating reliable revenue streams in a time of decreased government funding.
CREATING A SHARED VISION
MVAC is working to turn local food into a source of cascading innovation and has the potential to redefine its role as a community action group. The organization is researching freezing operations to extend the selling season for Minnesota-grown produce, and is investigating the potential of powering year-round greenhouses with the waste (heat and carbon dioxide) from ethanol plants. MVAC is developing a new program called Grow-a-Farmer, where MVAC uses land it owns or leases to train future farmers.
After researching models from other states and organizations, MVAC reimagined its role beyond the typical expectations of a community action group. Social enterprise became its new secret weapon. MVAC’s flagship ventures include the Wheel Get There car donation program and two thrift stores in Mankato and New Ulm. The flexibility of these in-house programs gave MVAC a reliable stream of income to serve more people without being at the mercy of federal budget cuts and political yo-yoing.