Stephen Lewis has a proven leadership track record inspired by his faith.
The Duke University graduate kicked off his career in a managerial position in the financial sector. Later he rose through the ranks at the Forum for Theological Exploration, where he now services as President.
Four years ago Lewis went one step further and launched DO GOOD X. The eight-week startup accelerator supports early-stage social entrepreneurs passionate about ventures that make a positive impact on people, their communities, and the wider environment.
Headquartered in Atlanta, DO GOOD X has been mostly under the radar. Yet it has steadily been providing invaluable resources, mentorship, and community needed to help underrepresented founders accelerate their startups to viable social enterprises.
So far nearly 30 handpicked, purpose-driven entrepreneurs have passed through three cohorts. The industry-agnostic accelerator has supported ideas for products, services, and technology to combat a range of social issues, including childhood obesity, human exploitation, intellectual and developmental disabilities, domestic violence, racial bias, and more.
With applications currently open for its 2020 fall accelerator program, DO GOOD X is leaning more into its sweet spot for providing a uniquely human-centered environment for up-and-coming founders.
Geared toward developing startups led by women and people of color, DO GOOD X describes its offerings and approach as holistic in nature. “We are very intentional about making space for our founders’ well-being, personal practices of self-care, and principles that are rooted in their spiritual life, which is often a source of resilience for them,” says Stephen Lewis, the creator of DO GOOD X.
“It’s very important for us to acknowledge our founders as people first while also helping them to build the capacity to launch a sustainable and financially-resourced venture for social good,” continues Lewis.
In September, DO GOOD X will welcome a new cohort into its growing community of change-makers. As in years prior, founders will gain access to a community of peers and mentors while participating in an interactive process to clarify their purpose, business goals, and value proposition.
The eight-week yearly accelerator is mainly remote, with in-person residencies at the start and end of the program. The culmination is a live pitch event – Pitch For Good – in front of accredited investors, business influencers, and community leaders.
While the potential for financial gain and the opportunity to make a positive impact is significant for social entrepreneurs, it’s oftentimes the passion found in their personal stories and those around them that compels them to create solutions for some of society’s biggest problems.
“It was out of a place of pain in my own life that Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope was born. Named after my grandmother, a survivor of domestic violence, Argrow’s House is a social enterprise created to support women who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse,” says its founder Kit Evans-Ford.
“We are very intentional about making space for our founders’ well-being, personal practices of self-care, and principles that are rooted in their spiritual life, which is often a source of resilience for them.”
Evans-Ford, a member of DO GOOD X’s inaugural cohort, launched Argrow’s House in December 2017, one month after completing the accelerator program. The Iowa-based social enterprise provides women with domestic violence support groups, Bible studies, yoga, art therapy, and spiritual direction. In addition, Argrow’s House doubles as a bath and body business where women healing from abuse can make and sell all-natural skincare products for a livable wage.
From medical doctors, pastors, pharmacists, clinical therapists, to even fashion merchandisers, DO GOOD X has helped equip individuals driven to go beyond their current career paths to make the world a better place.
“DO GOOD X is so different from any other entrepreneurial program I have participated in. It focuses on you as an entrepreneur, your impact on people and the planet, and how your business is tied to faith-rooted values,” says Stephanie Mayer, a 2019 DO GOOD X Fellow.
Mayer, who took several months off from work last year to launch her socially conscious fashion startup Nary Resort, remembers feeling like her risk-taking had finally paid off once she made it to DO GOOD X. “When I arrived at the program, I felt like I could let out a deep sigh of relief because I knew I was in a safe place where my whole vision was being advocated for,” she adds.
The 2020 DO GOOD X Startup Accelerator kicks off on Sept. 21 in Atlanta. For more info and to submit an application visit the DO GOOD X site here. The application deadline is Friday, May 1, 11:59 pm EST. Any questions email: firstname.lastname@example.org.