Shalita O’Neale, Alumni Business Exchange, Inc. (Spring Impact Grant 2015)
Shalita O’Neale grew up in the foster care system and, now, as successful business woman, she has launched a nationwide professional business network for alumni of foster care in the U.S..
Shalita received a seed grant from the Pollination Project to support the Fostering Change Network LLC (FCN) (originally The Alumni Business Exchange), a membership-based organization that provides business incubator support, networking and training opportunities to alumni of the foster care system who are now business professionals looking to establish and expand their non-profit and for profit organizations. Members have access to trainings, workshops and financial counseling for start-up businesses and receive support applying for small business loans/grants. FCN also provides micro-loans/grants to Alumni Members to support professional endeavors.
Now Shalita is receiving a second round Impact Grant of $2,500 to support the Alumni Powerhouse Networking Conference (APNC), held in May, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland, where approximately 200 foster care graduates from across the country were provided a safe and supportive space to promote their business endeavors, get feedback from other alumni on how to build and expand their businesses as well as connect professionally and personally with other adult professionals from foster care.
After the Conference, FCN will focus on reaching out to the alumni that attended the conference and are interested in starting an FCN chapter in their state to provide technical assistance in setting it up. They will also focus on providing webinars led by alumni on topics deemed helpful by the alumni attendees, and work on developing a peer-to-peer professional mentoring program.