One of my missions is to breakdown the barriers that stand between people and opportunity throughout the United States of America.
Families, investors, philanthropists, family foundations, and community partners in our network are unsatisfied with the status quo.
It has never been easier for an investor to scale the impact of their investment
The process I have implemented, refined, and continue iterate upon scales the impact of an investment by streamlining the social enterprise process. Investing in social entrepreneurs can be difficult. We want to make the process easy for both the investor and the empathetic entrepreneur.
Our platform connects investors with emerging entrepreneurs who are making the most impact on the garden state – making it a better place to live, work, play and raise a family.
The Managing Director of Bain Capital, Josh Beckenstein, articulates the value working with an intermediary such as myself. He is quoted saying,
Investing in social entrepreneurs requires solid due diligence. I need someone to figure out who the right entrepreneurs are, what are the right ideas to invest in…
Due diligence is built into our process. We grow social entrepreneurs rather than attempting to select them from a crowd.
Social Enterprise Methodology
Our social enterprise methodology was invented by our founder, Daniel D’Alonzo. The model is built from the reflection of his personal life. Since 2009, Mr. D’Alonzo has continuously proven the effectiveness of his model.
The social enterprise methodology mitigates financial risk by growing our customers from emerging visionaries of their local neighborhoods into empathetic entrepreneurs networked statewide and working towards a shared vision.
Investors scale impact by investing in the process of increasing the capacity each entrepreneur has for scaling their own impact. This “mirroring effect” enables us to multiply the impact by empowering a small number of emerging visionaries with the resources and support to impact more of the constituents from their local communities.
Emerging Visionaries of New Jersey
We hand select self-motivated emerging entrepreneurs who have a track record of actively building relationships in their community, creating value through expression of their art and culture, the creation of jobs and economic opportunity for others, and we invite them to experience our social innovation lab.
There is an educational, experiential, and entrepreneurial component to the lab. By the third phase the individual will have attached a business model to the value they created for their local community.
You are able to work alongside our emerging empathetic entrepreneurs to learn from one another and help provide guidance and insights.
We’ve been able to take what was a complex and messy process and streamline it to maximize the impact each stakeholder is able to have on any particular issue.
Why are we motivated to impact American youth?
Our founder, Daniel D’Alonzo, was born into poverty. He grew up surrounded by many of the same obstacles he helps our constituents overcome today. He speaks the same language. He understands what it is like to be in their shoes, and that’s not because he uses his imagination. It is because he was born in their shoes and he will always be in their shoes for the rest of his life.
Throughout history we have yet to empower the individual suffering from a social problem by placing her in the driver seat and providing her with the resources to figure out a solution to her own problem. Society is quick to blame that individual, but it is not often will we watch society take a time out from their day to come together and figure out how we might collectively impact this issue within our community.
Jersey Grit would like to offer an alternative option for approaching the way we solve social problems. Rather than a top-down approach that gives a lot of money to a few people at the top to fix a problem the people at the bottom have, we bring in people who are actually dealing with the problem into a nurturing process of personal and professional development.
This project is about finding the small pockets of New Jersey that are being revived into dynamic communities of friendship, trust, and empathy. We seek to find the creatives behind these insurgences so that we may empower them with more resources to increase their capacity, create jobs for their neighbors, and deepen their impact. One of the first steps in doing this comes from networking the emerging visionaries together so the lines of communication are open. To start, he invited about 50 emerging visionaries from throughout the garden state. One of the goals is to have this group grow their existing solo-entrepreneur projects into larger businesses that create jobs for the communities in which they presently live. Once that happens, we can start the process of working with the 5.5 million disconnected youth in America who need the leadership of our emerging entrepreneurs.
Mr. D’Alonzo earned a number of unfair advantages by choosing to never accept the status quo. Born into a low-income broken home, he could see the cards he was dealt. This thing called life, this game, well, it was rigged. All men are not actually created equal. He began to question, “Why are some people born at the finish line while others are still looking for a ride to the race?” At a young age, Mr. D’Alonzo decided he would not participate in a game that was setup for him to lose.
Now, as times are changing and the economy has been disrupted by technological innovation, the unfair advantages previously stacked up against Mr. D’Alonzo and others just like him are no longer present. Today, Mr. D’Alonzo says, the only thing that can hold us back from reaching our individual potential is ourselves. This is very different from a time when you had to be “chosen” for the good job, born into wealth, and ask for permission to be authentic.
The currency of the future can be found in the results of our creative expression.
To reach this state of consciousness is not based on one’s initial decision to walk this way. It requires persistence to continue when everyone around you says that you are wrong. Each time Mr. D’Alonzo decided to stand up after being knocked down would mean another layer of resilient grit that would be blessed upon him.
The unique value Mr. D’Alonzo proposes, and that of which he continues to validate as effective, results from deep self-reflection, continuous innovation, and creative expression. For that reason, you will only have access to a product of its kind through a relationship with him.
Existing organizations and programs that target this population are able to have an impact and we seek to learn from each of them. However, Mr. D’Alonzo clearly draws a line in the sand by differentiating his work from that of existing programs:
Many are aiming at the board, but few have hit the bull’s eye. If you ask me, it’s because they are aiming at the wrong board.
That doesn’t mean other programs aren’t effective, but the solutions are not reaching the systemic issues which cause the actual problem.
Having a program defined by a constituent who dealt with the actual problem is an essential element of building businesses that solve social problems. This is something often overlooked in this country. Investors and philanthropists with a desire to make an impact traditionally work with foundations who gift money to smaller organizations who work to impact the issue.
If the product is built by someone outside of the target population it will be rejected by the target.
Mr. D’Alonzo says:
We have been unable to solve the same social problems which have plagued this great nation for 250 years. That tells me something isn’t working with the current model. If we don’t ask why, why, why and go back to when it started, then we aren’t going back far enough, and we are not fixing the actual problems.
Now that he is able to confidently move forward with a model that is effective, he seeks to develop relationships with a select few people from New Jersey who have a desire to make a serious impact on the lives of those who continue to suffer on a daily basis. He is interested in the investors and philanthropists who will make the time to meet as needed and develop consensus on a shared vision to work towards. He is looking for the risk-takers and the system-shakers who are not afraid to go against the grain when an opportunity for financial gain and social impact present themselves.