In 2009 we started an organization called E49 Corporation. The God given vision was to unite churches and communities, to come together to find long-term solutions to social issues. The early years of E49 were spent building relationships and trying to understand the issues. We discovered issues and groups like homelessness, human trafficking, refugees and at-risk youth, were debilitating to communities. After working and meeting with hundreds of organizations, it became crystal clear that there were three things that could help make a dent in the problem: Housing, Mentoring and Employment. These three were consistently and overwhelmingly, the answers that were deemed foundational to solving most social issues in varying populations.
Next we began to get to know the organizations delivering resources to these underserved populations. What we found, was that many of the organizations were filled with people who wanted to do good and help but had limited training, understanding of the issues and funds to really effect change in communities. Many of these individuals stopped what they were doing after 2-3 years, finding them burned out, discouraged and broke. We also found some very organized leaders who were great at raising money, but who were ineffective at execution and we found excellent executors who were usually doing the best work but were not as skilled at raising funds. These folks usually worked second jobs to help fund their passion.
So, we thought this was an easy math problem to solve! If we could get all of these groups together, we could set each in motion in their strengths and effect long-term change! In 2013, we opened a co-working space in a Christ-centered environment called “Suite 210”. Suite 210 was designed to be a physical space where leaders of churches, nonprofits and businesses could connect, build awareness and resources around the issues and begin working together to solve social needs in the community.
What we found was disappointing. First many of the organizations just did not want to collaborate! Second, even if they did, they could not re-direct their efforts to what was needed because of restrictions of grant funds and individual donors whose interests were narrow. And finally, we found that most organizations never looked at themselves as a business. They were focused on “ministry” but no desire to grow or replicate. One example we saw over and over again was in the area of homelessness. There are numerous services for focused populations like chronic homeless, men OR women, women AND children together or veterans. But, there are limited services for families. So if a family that consisted of a man, woman and children became homeless, they would be split up to accommodate the restrictions of service providers.
So, in 2015, E49 Corp. set out to build a platform that would focus on Social Impact in communities by addressing people in poverty through Housing, Mentoring and Employment. Organizationally, we already had E49 Corporation, which was already active in facilitating Community Impact and Life and Skills Mentoring. This delivery method made a lot of sense to the church and nonprofit worlds! But we recognized that we needed an entity that made more sense to the Business and Civic worlds. Out of that need we started With Purpose, Inc., a non-profit entity, focused on Social Impact Business Incubation and Acceleration to provide Business Education, Mentoring and Coaching to organizations and entrepreneurs.
We also knew from our research and meetings, that the delivery system was as important to success as the solution. The delivery system would need to be sustainable, process oriented, focused on the whole person and the totality of their issues, have measurable results and have oversight by one lead entity to prevent mission drift. You cannot help a person into a house and expect long-term success if you don’t help them with employment, transportation, food, daycare and having a community of people around them to support their recovery. Interdependent problems require interdependent solutions.