Praxis is an accelerator program for social entrepreneurs and innovators compelled by their faith to create new ventures that advance the common good. Each year, we provide Praxis Fellows with the knowledge and networks needed to build world-class organizations that address key social issues.
For example, Sajan George began Matchbook Learning to turn around the nation’s worst-performing public schools through changing the school culture, applying personalized teaching via computers and providing constant feedback to teachers. Jimmy Lin launched the Rare Genomics Institute to help families whose children have rare diseases. Research in these “orphan diseases” is scarce, but Jimmy and his volunteer doctors and scientists use genome sequencing to help diagnose and prescribe treatment. These are just two of the 12 fellows in the program. Others are addressing job creation, orphan care, wellness and more.
We surround these high-impact, emerging entrepreneurs with best-in-class mentors so they have a chance to learn, apply and iterate – all within an environment where they can explore how to express the Gospel in their lives and through their work. Over the course of three in-person gatherings and additional hands-on services over six months, we help our Praxis Fellows take concrete steps toward growing a vibrant organization while establishing a personal foundation grounded in spiritual disciplines. We want to shape leaders who can build scalable organizations that deliver measurable impact; we also hope to nurture faithful servants who are humble, prayerful, balanced and rooted.
Ask any entrepreneur: The lows can be despairing and crushing, the highs exhilarating and seductive. Praxis aims to support our fellows through a network of peer relationships, a community that can be an anchor during difficult times, a cheering section during periods of growth, a truthful mirror when reflection is in order.
We believe the global church can be an incredible collaborator when it comes to improving the lives of people in a community. It has a wide network, a stable of volunteers, a place for meeting, a reservoir of credibility. Mike Timmer of International Orphanage Union-Bolivia forges partnerships with Bolivian churches to care for orphans placed in family homes. Jedd and Janelle Schroy of Paradigm Shift engage church volunteers in South Africa to teach business principles to the poor.
Our first class of fellows is wrapping up this week in Washington, D.C., at the Q Gathering. The top three finalists are presenting their stories Tuesday night for $100,000 in cash prizes, with the audience helping to decide the winners. We’re looking for social entrepreneurs with world-changing ideas and a teachable spirit. Please apply online by June 1.
Dave Blanchard and Josh Kwan are co-founders of Praxis. Dave leads Praxis as president, Josh volunteers as board chair.