Austin, TX, March 15, 2016
Living in Austin, it’s hard to ignore the sheer number of start-up businesses. Austin is a hub of innovation and growth, and that entrepreneurial spirit is a huge part of what makes it a great place to live. It’s less common to see non-profit startups. Also known as social ventures, these are programs designed to provide non-profit services while earning revenue, creating a sustainable, self-funded model. The benefits of such a model are enormous. The non-profit can still provide crucial services to the community, without the pressure of relying exclusively on philanthropy to continue and even grow the programs.
Easter Seals Central Texas is proud to be a pioneer in developing this social venture model. Tod Marvin, President and CEO of Easter Seals Central Texas plans to be “covering 100% of Easter Seals operational costs with earned revenues generated from new and existing social ventures by 2020.”
Similar to any startup, the workload associated with beginning a social venture is significant. In a non-profit organization all resources – including staff time – are stretched very thin, making sure that the mission is served as efficiently as possible. To ensure high-quality planning and management of these new social venture projects, Easter Seals Central Texas has received a grant to fund a groundbreaking new role – Chief Entrepreneur.
The Chief Entrepreneur of Easter Seals Central Texas will serve to ensure that these social ventures impact the mission of Easter Seals while strategically building a stable base for fiscal growth. Chris Paladino, an Austin resident and experienced member of both the entrepreneurial and non-profit communities, has been selected to serve as the first Chief Entrepreneur at Easter Seals. Starting as a part-time position, Paladino will work closely with the board and Marvin to guide the position as it develops and grows.
“I am very excited to be serving in this new and innovative role,” said Paladino. “On top of growing the impact Easter Seals has for people with disabilities, our hope is to create a model that non-profits across Texas will be able to duplicate, ensuring that the services they provide are more financially secure, stable, and long-lasting.”
Paladino began his new role in January of 2016, and has been instrumental in growing the Easter Seals Lawn and Landscape program. Launched in 2015, Easter Seals Lawn and Landscape delivers high quality lawn care while providing paid job training to individuals with disabilities. This is an invaluable experience for an individual with a disability, giving him or her skills that translate into opportunities for stable, long-term employment. Easter Seals Lawn and Landscape has also partnered with for-profit companies Yardease and Lawnstarter, to grow its reach in the local market.
Paladino will also work on the Easter Seals Adaptive Behavior Clinic, a partnership with UT Austin to serve families of individuals on the Autism Disorder Spectrum. Anticipated to launch in August 2016, the clinic will provide self-sustaining services for Autism services and research, a crucial endeavor as autism diagnoses continue to rise. The Clinic will also be a self-sustaining social venture.
Increasing entrepreneurial activities at Easter Seals Central Texas is a bold new way to serve more individuals with disabilities and have more of an impact. These projects not only support individuals with disabilities, but support our communities, becoming an integral part of the Austin landscape. For more information on Easter Seals Lawn and Landscape, please visit http://www.eastersealslandscape.com.