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Communitas America announces Heyground Innovation Hub opening to be in 2021!


Heyground will be an inclusive community space that aims to create a social impact and opportunities for Bronx-based social entrepreneurs and changemakers. Heyground members will be Bronx-based entrepreneurs, artists, activists, and community leaders from different backgrounds who are interested in collaborating across sectors in order to catalyze economic empowerment in our borough. Heyground will offer a variety of flexible membership options including private offices, open co-working spaces, conference rooms, digital media production rooms, as well as event space. HeyNet, Heyground’s virtual membership, is now available providing access to our network of passionate and driven members, events, and resources.


In anticipation of Heyground’s Spring 2021 opening, Communitas America conducted two surveys and hosted two co-design sessions with Bronx community partners and Communitas Ventures cohort alumni. Here are some of the insights and key learnings they provided in consideration of the design and development of Heyground’s culture.



Bronx Partner Co-Design Session


In our survey to Bronx partners, we asked them how they envisioned a stronger, more vibrant Bronx. We crafted the following statement from their responses:


A just, inclusive economy that leverages innovation and economic development to increase access to opportunities to build upon the Bronx’s existing assets and relative strengths.


The biggest takeaway from their responses was: we have everything we need right here in the Bronx. We can help changemakers by creating support structures and pathways to tools and resources available to them in their own borough/community.



The following conclusions were drawn from our Zoom co-design session with partners. We were able to glean the necessary factors to building an ecosystem, learn what resources we should focus on creating pathways to, and the necessary steps we should take to bring everything to fruition.


How to build our Ecosystem:

  • Evaluate members and entrepreneurs to learn what their needs are and what their mission is.

  • Provide a lively space that is place-based, as in, rooted in the local community where members know each other and the neighborhood and its community members are represented, recognized and celebrated for their work.

  • Building a coalition of partners and entrepreneurs that mutually catalyze their visions


What are key resources we should create access points to?

  • Funding and income opportunities

  • Healthcare & childcare

  • Affordable spaces

  • Education: Webinars/Training on advanced entrepreneurial subjects


From our session with the Bronx partners, we concluded that we must continue communications with them in order to learn what services are needed for the impact ecosystem to thrive and explore opportunities for collaboration. We are excited about launching our sixth cohort for our Communitas Ventures accelerator program and other upcoming events to engage with the Bronx community.




Alumni Co-Design Session


In our alumni survey we learned what aspects make them feel at home in a community:


Resources

  • Access to support and learning

  • Up to date information

Supportive Space

  • Safe space to engage and share

  • Accountability and honest feedback

Welcoming

  • Positive energy & encouragement

  • Authentic relationships


Our alumni gave us a clear direction into the warm and inviting culture that we seek to provide at Heyground.


We asked the participants, “What does a successful business look like for you?” And the most consistent answer was, “the ability to stick to your mission while generating profit.” At their core, the entrepreneurs in our ecosystem are first and foremost changemakers. Heyground members will all be in the business of bettering our community.


We learned that our entrepreneurs are hungry for a space where they can go to “feel revitalized, motivated, inspired, and refreshed, especially when they’re feeling discouraged.” Running a startup is not easy, but providing a space where entrepreneurs can receive encouragement and celebrate camaraderie can go a long way.


Our alumni also said, “Heyground should be a source of social capital the same way Communitas Ventures was by helping entrepreneurs connect with people and resources they otherwise may not have access to.” Networking is and will continue to be one of the more critical aspects of running a business and we strive to make Heyground another strong asset to entrepreneurs. Heyground and HeyNet will provide access to a robust directory of social entrepreneurs; offer panels, workshops, gatherings, and events that will spark conversations and foster relationships among like-minded people; and provide a space where members can give and receive professional feedback and advice.


We asked Alumni what challenges they face in launching and/or scaling their business. The two most consistent answers were related to COVID-19 and being a solo entrepreneur. The pandemic has forced entrepreneurs to adapt to isolation, physical restrictions, navigating the online landscape and identifying new target markets. To address this issue, Heyground will include professional digital media and recording studios in our facility. We will provide the tools necessary for businesses to survive in the “new normal” and assist our members who are transitioning to an online format. Our hypothesis is that being a team of one is easier with the help of an ecosystem.


Our alumni and partner sessions provided us with key insights in order to build and nurture a community culture at Heyground. We plan to host public sessions in the months leading up to Heyground’s opening. We look forward to learning more about how we can better serve our community with our Innovation Hub for Bronx-based entrepreneurs, artists, activists, educators and community leaders. Stay tuned for the upcoming public co-design sessions!




Sofia Mojica

Heyground Community Manager

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