For several years, the PACF has been engaged with a team of foundation, university, and nonprofit partners in the region to help build the social enterprise ecosystem and to help facilitate investments in promising enterprises. The "Social Enterprise Ecosystem - SEE - Impact" initiative is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
As part of the SEE Impact project, PACF, along with other grant partners, provides technical assistance to social enterprises, defined as a business with a social mission, or a nonprofit with a revenue generating enterprise that provides funding for mission-related work.
A number of nonprofit organizations in the PACF service area have benefited from assistance from the SEE Grant, including The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley. John Glazer, a member of the SEE Team from Ohio University, helped The Arc at the beginning stages of planning for their new People First Café. The café provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to gain meaningful work experience and develop job skills while also providing the community with a new venue for coffee, baked goods, breakfast, and lunch. PACF connected The Arc to Glazer and the SEE Team, who researched equipment needed to start a café and prepared budget, cash flow, and financial planning documents to help with business start up. A summer 2022 Recovery and Resilience grant from the PACF, awarded in partnership with the Sisters Health Foundation, provided financial support to add an accessible ramp for the café and to purchase equipment and supplies.
The People First Café is working in partnership with Parkersburg High School, located next to the café, to provide job training skills for students in their special education program. "The People First Café is the ideal location for students in the special education classroom to learn more about vocational readiness and employment opportunities in their community," shared Sara McQuain, special education teacher at Parkersburg High School. "From soft skills to specific job skills in the food service industry, the café is a great location for our students to prepare for integrated community employment post graduation."