How did The Aequalitas Project get started?
As told by Gregory Varnum, founder of The Aequalitas Project:
After I completed my role as Executive Director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, I spent time contemplating my experiences working within nonprofits over the preceding ten years. During that time, I also spoke with a number of trusted friends and colleagues seeking their advice on what I should consider for my next venture.
Out of that reflection and those conversations came a number of ideas I was interested in seeing developed into programs. Specifically I was interested in ones that I felt weren't a good fit, at least initially, with the organizations I was aware of. My experiences had exposed me to a number of wonderful ideas which either suffered a premature demise or an unnecessarily painful startup process. There were a variety of different reasons involved - from lack of capacity building to organization politics and conflicts.
No one likes to waste their time - so I wanted to do my best to learn from those experiences and apply those lessons to my plans to develop these ideas. I knew that certain ideas had a hard time succeeding in an already fully functional organization until it was itself more fully developed. I also knew that certain ideas simply worked better free of existing turf wars or organization politics.
My list of ideas I was being presented with or otherwise developing an interest in was growing. I was starting to realize that a nonprofit organization focusing on the development of great ideas rather than picking a select few to permanently focus on might be the best solution to the problem I was now facing and the frustrations I was hoping to address.
The "ah ha" moment arrived when some friends nudged me to consider social entrepreneurship as a means of pursuing my interests. Rather than think of each idea or program individually, I began to think of the process and larger picture of how these ideas could realistically be developed using the resources available.
When I attended business college I became interested in a trend occurring in the technology sector - business incubators. The idea was originally developed a few decades ago and was successfully applied to hundreds of business ideas each year. I was aware that the concept had also been applied to developing nonprofit programming, usually by community foundations. The notion of applying it to the types of ideas I was interested in seemed increasingly worth pursuing.
Out of all of this, The Aequalitas Project emerged. From there, I worked with trusted friends to develop the idea further, reach out to potential advisors and identify which ideas would initially be developed as "pilot programs". The Queer Camp Alliance, WikiQueer and Project Castra were ideas already underway and already showing great potential.
I wish I could share more, but for now that's all there is as this creation story is still being written! I invite you to join me in becoming a part of it - learn more about how you can get involved today.