First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta
Photo: AIA
Photo: AIA

Prominent Atlanta church launches social venture “incubator” to find, fund projects

For years, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta (FPC) has thrown open its doors to the homeless and hungry and anyone else in need of help.

Now the church located next to the High Museum of Art in the heart of Midtown is throwing open its doors to new and innovative ideas as well.

FPC recently launched “Epiphany,” a new social entrepreneurship initiative to help identify, nurture and fund projects and start-ups that align with its values and mission by addressing social challenges. And it’s putting its money where its ministry is, creating a $250,000 pool to provide start-up funding to the chosen ventures.

“In the past we have been the implementers,” said Ellen Adair Wyche, an FPC member and a key figure in the Epiphany effort. “What we’re trying to do now is be the catalyst.”

Applications, which can be for nonprofit or for profit ventures, are due by Oct. 10.  Next, FPC members will use their relevant skills, experiences and connections to help “incubate” semi-finalist projects for several months. In late February, finalists will pitch their refined ideas to a panel of judges, a la “Shark Tank,” who’ll select the grant recipients.

FPC is only the third church nationwide to implement an idea pioneered by Colonial Church in Edina, Minnesota. In 2010, the church located in an affluent Minneapolis suburb created a $250,000 pool and has since funded 11 social enterprise ventures through its “Innove Project.” This past March, First Presbyterian Church of Houston’s “Project Flourish” gave $240,000 in funding to five such ventures.

To learn more or to submit a social venture proposal, go to www.firstpresatl.org/epiphany

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