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Updated: October 3, 2022 viewpoint

Viewpoint: Why a nonprofit?

The entrepreneurial spirit is in full bloom; from expansions of small businesses, influx of content creators, downfalls of large corporations, and the great resignation, it inspires us to follow our lifelong dreams of being our own boss and making an impact. 

Carla Delacruz Davila

First step is to identify the type of work you want to do. Identify the talent, product, or service you would like to provide. I started a nonprofit because it closely aligned with my professional vision. I have a master’s degree in social work and have dedicated my life to building up marginalized communities due to personal experiences. My nonprofit, The WellStorm, Inc., was established in 2021 with my co-founder, Yesenia Arroyo. Our mission targets the challenges associated with poverty and other disparities we both have experienced.

Growing up, my mother was a single parent, and she made every effort to take care of me and my siblings. She worked two jobs and was going to school at Quinsigamond Community College while being a caregiver for both her children and parents. I always admired her strength and resiliency because even though our family experienced very difficult situations, she persevered.

As an Afro-Latina, I understand the impact poverty has on marginalized Black, Indigenious, and people of color. To me, choosing a nonprofit means the work is concentrated on helping the most vulnerable and underserved communities, by raising awareness to reduce stigma and opening pathways to dealing with intergenerational trauma by providing mental health services.

The barriers of starting a nonprofit are like any business: finding the right location, financing, and understanding the processes. As we began to create The WellStorm, Inc., we ran up against some systemic barriers that personally exasperated our business experience. There are regulations and restrictions one must meet to be a viable nonprofit. Like other endeavors, systemic racism impacts the progress of a potential nonprofit startup. Its success is determined by your tenacity, network, and the support you surround yourself with. The system is not designed to support startup BIPOC businesses or organizations. Starting a nonprofit takes a village.

Financially: It takes money to make money. Applying for grants is like finding an investor. However, many grants will not supply any funds without having state and federally recognized nonprofit status. Seed grants are often supported by a fiscal sponsor. Be prepared to invest your own money to bridge gaps in funding initially.

Connections: Networking is key. If you do not have a presence in your community, it can be hard to gain exposure and build your network. Volunteering and getting involved with other nonprofits can help in facilitating some of these important connections.

Identifying what to expect and preparing for these barriers can improve your confidence in seeing your dreams come to fruition.

Carla Delacruz Davila is the cofounder of Southbridge nonprofit The WellStorm, Inc.

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