Launching a Non-Profit that helps single mothers thrive with @emergemothersacademy
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Jenna Redfield is the leader of the Twin Cities Collective, the largest resource in the Twin Cities for bloggers, small business, entrepreneurs & creatives.
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Hey, everyone, welcome to podcast. My name is Jenna Redfield. And today I have a very special guest Becca Erickson from emerge mothers Academy. Welcome.
Becca Erickson 1:10
Thanks, Jenna. So Becca works here with us. So that's why I know her so well. But uh, so Becca, explain a little bit more about emerged this month, we're talking all about nonprofits and charities and giving back so could talk a little bit more about what you do. Absolutely. So emerged brothers Academy is a twin cities charity, we're a public charity, classified as a 501, c three with the IRS. Those are all the interest. I don't even know, science for all my IRS geeks. But we are a social service providing wraparound services for single moms in all the ways that the county either can't intervene or in special deep, holistic ways that moms who've experienced either a husband or partner through death, deportation, incarceration, divorce, I mean, there's kinds of ways that women become single moms. And they just need an extra level of support that the county can never just see through the walls. Yeah, for sure. And so we just believe so much in equipping the mom as a parent, but then also as a woman, you know, we hold these tensions as moms of balancing, being confident as a woman and not completely giving ourselves over to just being a sloppy, caring mom who gives the kids everything. And also not being so overly confident and professional in business that we forget to be a really delicate, caring, tender mom to our kids. So it's it's holding the tension and teaching them that even though you've lost your co parent, or your parenting partner, you can still hold both roles really well for your good. So they can see that you're a confident woman, but you're carrying mom, too.
Jenna Redfield 2:47
So how did you start emerge? Oh, how? What was the background of that?
Becca Erickson 2:51
Yeah, I was raised by a single mom in rural Minnesota. And I saw her heart as a registered nurse for people. And just she did the best that she could the three of us. But we largely raised ourselves in the 80s. And I was the only girl in the entire neighborhood. So a lot of kick the can with a bunch of boys and I just, you know, grew up kind of raising myself and that was fine. went to college met a guy. And then sadly, the same story repeated itself. So in the same way that my dad had left my family when I was very young. My first husband left me and my baby. And you know, he threw infidelity and betrayal just chose to divorce us. And it was me and her. And after really doing a lot of repair, work, lot of therapy, a lot of just healing, getting better leaning into my church community getting a lot of help from friends, I realized, man, more women should probably have this kind of a network and kind of this support system where even if you're quote, unquote, functional, and you have a master's and you're, you know, privileged, like we still struggle through emotions that all human beings have. Now you compound some of that with impoverished, you know, impoverished mindset, or you don't have a car or you've never had a job. I'm like, I can't imagine what some of these women need for support. And I look around at the kind of support that I had and the way my mom got through and how I got through, and I'm like, goodness, these women have even more
Unknown Speaker 4:23
Becca Erickson 4:24
we should probably do something about this. At the same time, my mom was kind of getting like a twinge on her heart to do something for women to having spent. I mean, at that point three decades, as a nurse, she was like, we really should do something she had always volunteered at pregnancy centers and wanted to how was a pregnant woman. She was like, let's just let's put our heads together and see where this could go. And between the two of us co founding, she had a skill set in, you know, doing the IRS paperwork and the 1023 application and, you know, looking at all the cross T's and dotted Hi. And I was like, Oh, goodness sakes, Don't give me that stuff. I will happily go out and share our stories and, you know, try to drum up donor base, you know, we're privately funded, and trying to try to just get enough clients to prove that this has need that there's validity to what we think our experience was and that it can kind of go across the community.
Jenna Redfield 5:22
Yeah, yeah. That's so cool. So you, so how did you come up with the name emerge mothers?
Becca Erickson 5:26
Yeah, rescue that. You'll actually love this. I know, you have a lot of like branding folks. thing. So we had some really good friends who branded for a lot of sports teams, and just, I think out of the graciousness of their hearts, had us over to their beautiful home one day and said, like, let's brand, let's put our heads together and come up with a really good brand for you. Which is awesome. Wow, you got to name the Minnesota Wild. And, you know, yeah, Yes, I will. So some of our original founding board, my mom and these friends and I sat down and just started like scribbling out words. Words that would that would talk so much about not only the safety and the community that we could provide, but beyond that, just a launching pad for these women to experience like, you didn't get to come here and be coddled and stay forever, you get to come to merge and feel cheered on and heal. But then you gotta go. And you got to get better and got to show your kids a way better life. And so we're writing like, equip and empower and all these different e words. And then I was like, you guys out of these words, I just see like, a rising up like these women just coming together and, and looking at their kids and saying, like, I'm going to do way better than what I was doing. And then I have just my hands going up, you know, and everyone's like, emerge, you know? And we're like, okay, and there is already an emerge test for Workforce Center on broad, or they're probably not on Broadway anymore. They moved. So we were like, well, we have to ourselves from that emerged, like, we're not just emerge, offering work prep, we do that. But how are we very unique to the single moms. And we're like, Okay, well has to be mothers, okay, emerge mothers. And then what are they doing? And I was like, Well, really, they're coming to learn the covenant, like, get skills and put tools in the toolbox and walk away being like, wow, I just got an education on life. So we're like, Well, then, like an academy, and we're like, emerge, mothers Academy? Yeah, let's do that. You know, it's just sort of around the table unanimously agreed on with about eight to 10 of us. And we're like, okay, what's that brand stand for? You know, we just made our biggest four values and what those programs would look like. And then over the course of the next three years, worked with some moms to organically figure out what those programs should be. Yeah. So we all had an idea. And having been a single mom been raised by a single mom, I kind of knew what programs should look like. But when you're with the women, and they're telling you like, well, I really wish it was like this, Becca. And then I'm like, well, it can be, you know, so after the first three years of 2012 13, and 14, we have really honed in on exactly what these women respond to, and and where the gap was in the community already. Yeah. So that we were really providing impactful services that were just a duplicate of something else.
Jenna Redfield 8:24
Yeah. So how did you get your initial women that were your, I guess, people that needed you? How did you find them? And how did you find this group that you were this eight to 10? people that were helping you? How did you like network your way?
Becca Erickson 8:36
Many of them I had known previously from prior work. I was I mean, like, the resume so random, I was an executive for Target Corporation. And then they have done clinical hours as mental health therapist with different pregnancy centers and new, just kind of new people in the nonprofit and the for profit sector, especially target Corp being Minneapolis based. I was like, well, I just dropped from relationships that I do have. And really, if nothing else, over the last seven years, I've learned to just have a mentality of well, the worst people can say is no. So whether they're being prospecting to be on my board, or I'm asking them for donations, you know, monetary donations, the worst someone's going to say is Nope. And what, what does that do? To me? Nothing doesn't change my life. Like we just have a little less funding for one program. But it does. Yeah, I've just learned that reflection on Yes, they say no to being on my board. It's not on me. You just learned fixed? Yeah, it's true. But yeah, the original group just kind of came out of relationships I knew. And then the original round of moms from 2012, was largely in home. So we got referrals from some hospitals, pregnancy centers, and clinics. But then after 2013, we got invited into K through 12 School in South Minneapolis. And that school was serving families that were going home to 70% mother headed households. So you think about the amount of time these kids are spending in school and getting a great education. But then what are they going home too. So we just kind of talked about being an extension of the school program to be a really effective Academy for the moms. So the kids were going to have something going home to something great. So we did kind of get our first big group of moms through that school partnership. And then we realized, like, wow, this is a great model. If you go into places where moms are already going, then you're not asking them to stop at one more place during their busy day. So we're like, schools, clinics, churches, what places are moms already going to? And we'll just go to that place and say, Hey, we're a mobile social service. We can come to you we can come to your moms and remove one transportation barrier or one time barrier, and come serve them where they're at. Yeah. And people have loved it. I mean, every year we're getting approached by somewhere else that says, Do you have enough staff to come and support our site? And usually we can do once? Once a week? Yeah.
Jenna Redfield 11:18
So are you mostly in the Twin Cities area? Just kind of rotating places?
Becca Erickson 11:22
Yes. Yep. So South Minneapolis became kind of that flagship site at that K through 12. School. And then we eventually got invited into several pregnancy centers, doula partnerships, churches, you know, we can't, we can't service them all well, but will occasionally be able to do like a group class for work preparation, and it's a three series set on professionalism. But there are, you know, the same sites that we go to every week that have just consistently always been partners of ours for five years.
Jenna Redfield 11:53
And so you mentioned that you're kind of privately funded. How does that work? How do you survive as a business? I
Becca Erickson 11:58
guess, a lot of people will ask me,
you know, like, how in the world does that happen? And I say, well, it's the friends and family program, right. So you start off in philanthropy, just sharing stories. And also we have an annual gala. And stories get shared there to where people know they're coming to donate. This year's, it's called splurge for emerge. And this is going to be the seventh year for the gala, it's October 9, people come ready to give because they know, they don't want to see women living on the margins, when they know that all they have to do is give a few hundred bucks, and that woman's life can be changed. So we continue to be privately funded by a lot of those people who know these women's stories, they know my story. They, they want to be involved in some way. But we also approach a lot of businesses too. And then this year, we got the life grant, we just got it. So we're like, Wow, that's awesome. Now with them, being in Minneapolis, their community relations partner, out of Gosh, probably lot of applications chose us as one of them. And we're just so excited. So we'll be launching more parenting curriculum in financial literacy, and helping our women and that was one of our core values from the get go was financial independence for these women. And so we want them to not be dependent on an ex apparent or the government and to make their own paycheck. And just it gives them so much confidence to have their own paycheck. So we're really excited to put this grant money to really good news,
Jenna Redfield 13:29
for sure. So you kind of help people. Yeah, like people that maybe either never had jobs or like are trying to get out of that. underemployed. Yeah. Because a lot of them maybe were never went to college or had never, like gotten that education. So are you kind of almost like a college if
Unknown Speaker 13:45
I wouldn't say that.
Jenna Redfield 13:46
Like, like, almost like that further education. Do most people have a GED is or is it a little bit of both?
Becca Erickson 13:52
Okay, it's a lot of everything. We've had moms who have come through tutoring with us to get the GED, and they get a GED sponsor who pays, you know, hundred 50 to 200 to get their test taken. We have I mean, some of our moms are in college right now. And we have people who specifically donate for them to go to college, you know that one specific mom. But also there are women who they were married to a really successful man, they were both white collar they were doing really great her, her spousal support check ends in three months. So she knows she needs to go back to work. And she was a, you know, she was a professor at one point. So it's like, okay, let's just polish up your interview skills. You know how to be a professor, we just need to get you through the door. But all of our moms regardless what they what they've come with for job experience, whether they're underemployed or unemployed, they come through our professionalism, they get a suit that suit they go into an interview. I tell them no matter what, I don't care where you're interviewing, you are wearing a suit. Yeah, you know, and I make them practice their handshake and just feel really empowered and confident going into the interview that they have skills. Yeah, they have stories to draw upon that show their character. Yeah,
Jenna Redfield 15:05
yeah, a lot of these people obviously have to be very strong in order to even
Becca Erickson 15:09
goodness. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah, there at the U of M. That are there was one other. I don't know if he was just the consortium partner or something. But he sat down with me and said, Why in the world do you have a 91% job placement rate, but the U of M graduates don't have something like that. And I said, you know what it is? It's grit. These women have mouths to feed. They, they want a job, like, like they need it. And a lot of these college grad school, and I'm not trying to generalize, rude, but they to them, it's like, Why can I always go? Yeah,
Jenna Redfield 15:45
there's no like, actual, like, what's the dry?
Becca Erickson 15:48
Yeah, exactly. And these women are like, do you know what it looks like? When I brought home a paycheck? And all my kids said, Mommy, you earned that money. You know, it's ridiculous. Of course, they are. Of course, they have a high employment rate. Yeah, they want to work. They want to please their employers, they please their children. So we're really high placement rate. Yeah, that's amazing. And 100%. If you look at our data, hundred percent stay employed. That means not only are they coming off government aid, and other actually paying more to come and target paying more in taxes is benefit.
Jenna Redfield 16:21
I know. I mean, and I think like so you've been doing this since 2012. Yes. Okay. So how I know you start, you just started a podcast, which is really cool. So how do you market like to get donors and everything? How do people find out about you?
Becca Erickson 16:37
Yeah, I mean, I would say we're probably not as well known as we can be. You know, I have so many hats as executive director. Marketing hasn't on the topic. But I have a media manager Laura, who helps drive
Jenna Redfield 16:50
Becca Erickson 16:52
So photographer by trade and by art, but knows so much about video and my SEO and my Pinterest, and does all that help to help me and then we have the to emerge podcast, and just a lot of word of mouth to from clinics and different referring sites talking to each other about Oh, my word. Do you know about this program? Yeah. They have an incredible program. And so the more that I can talk to people and share the stories is the best way to get out. But that becomes like backburner to like running the program?
Jenna Redfield 17:23
Yeah. It's like, it's like, do you be in the business or your work? But yeah, and I think that's an issue a lot of entrepreneurs have in general is like, What do I do? And I think it, I mean, right now, you seem like you have like pretty consistent people paying for the funding and everything. So it's like, sometimes you don't worry about, but then when it gets low, and then you have to start marketing. It's just like that, that flow of it. So so you have this like brick system? Yeah.
Becca Erickson 17:47
How explain bricklayers. So we, you know, we looked across a lot of really successful charities and Muslim are getting residual, you know, monthly GIFs. And monthly GIFs. This where you really say like, Okay, I have some security in in each month of 2018. Okay, so we launched brick layer, literally like grabbing an image of a foundation being put down by these people who just give $25 a month off their credit card, like they don't even know it's coming off. You know, it's like, oh, well save, save the two pizzas on Friday night and donate as a founding person to emerge mothers Academy. And then that gives us the security of knowing that in September, October, November, we have our foundation covered for 25 bucks. So and a lot of those people just feel really proud to have their name, they have a wallpaper of bricks, and their name is signed on those. And they can make a tribute to you know, my sister, the single mom or raised by a single mom, or, you know, I'm not a single mom don't know a single mom, but this is because of my kids. So how do people do that? Like how to like, well, I guess my question is, how do people help? How do we like people listening? If they're like, Oh, my gosh, I really want to work with you. What are ways we can help you, Heather a variety of ways to get involved. It's not just monetary. Of course, we love our bricklayers. And we love our big donors, you know, who want to do 5000 a year yeah. But there's so many ways to impact moms, just with your time. We have mentoring. So if you've been a parent, you're a little further along than another parent, I'll kind of look at both of your interests and match you guys up there. You can sort through baby clothes that get donated, you can wash car seats that get donated, you don't have to interact with a single mom. But you can still benefit the charity through service. You can run your own mini fundraiser, we do breakfast pop up. So if you ordinarily see all your gal pals, or you hang out with a bunch of buddies to golf, you just bring this baby bottle that we have, and everyone just throws in a $10 bill, it's just a pop up. You do it for breakfast, you do it for golf, we just did it with some chiropractor partners, and with all their chiropractic members and the staff, man. You know, they just get got us over 200 bucks just in a baby bottle. Yeah, big bottle. Yeah, a really easy way to just do a mini fundraiser is you've got a better feeling so good about your ya
Jenna Redfield 20:12
know, right. So that's so you do that. And then you're using your podcast, also to tell us could tell us a little about that, like the stories that you're selling on there.
Becca Erickson 20:21
So the term emerge podcast is all about women overcoming and they don't necessarily need to be alumna of the eMERGE mothers Academy. Um, some of them aren't even single moms, but they're just all kinds of women or enterprises that show us how to rise up, and how to do it with dignity and poise. And to do it in a way that it ripples out to the whole community. And it makes us all better for it. Yeah. And the podcast is just a small platform where we say, you know, this is a part of emerge mothers can me it's, it's storytelling. I think storytelling is an incredible platform for marketing. But then so is our website, you know, emerged twin cities.org. So as our gala in October, there's so many ways that people need to be touched and different ways to not take somebody's postcard. Yes, I'm needed dinner.
Jenna Redfield 21:08
So for the gala, how do people get involved with that? Is it like, Is there a ticket to get in? or How?
Becca Erickson 21:13
Yeah, and this year, our tickets are free. I know. So, to us, we just figured we might as well make tickets free because people know they're coming to a gala. So the obviously going to donate, you know, like, people aren't going to come to the gala. Just like I'm just here to eat. No, you can't come to the desert. Richard. Yeah. So yeah, that's October 9, we need all kinds of hands that decorate people that helped Park cars, people that opened the front doors. It's at the Hutton house medicine like Plymouth, it's really closer. So it should be just a beautiful night. But it's you know, far beyond looking beautiful or feeling welcoming. It is a night to applaud the women who've come through emerge and gone so far with their life. Yeah. Last year, our mom who stood up and gave her story in front of 200 people, she got a standing ovation. And that's why we were there. Yeah, you know, we weren't there to say like, yep, let's raise 50,000. It helps us get through next year. Like that's amazing. Thank you. But we were there to look that mom in the eyeball and say, girlfriend, you are doing it?
Jenna Redfield 22:18
Yeah. So what are like the biggest success stories that you've seen of people come through? And it might be on the podcast? But like, Is there some story that you can think of, of someone like overcoming?
Becca Erickson 22:31
And you know, what the reality is, sometimes they don't get much better. And sometimes how we measure someone's improvement on their life. You know, they're like, wow, I don't even want that standard. You know, I just, I just want to get off food stamps, I don't need to go back to college, you know, and so just not being this idealistic starry eyed person to just say, like, everyone sets their own success, and they set their own norm. So that's okay, too. Yeah. But of course, I'm just so profoundly impacted by these women who, you know, after spending 15 years running or fleeing from an abusive man, and they finally get themselves into college, and then they get A's and B's and college. And then they go home, and they show their kids that when their kids are all in school, and they all do homework together. It's like, there isn't another person to tag out. You're literally doing all the work. Yeah, here you are, with poise. saying like, Thank you emerge. You you convinced me that I could do it. And look, I got A's and B's. I guess I really can, you know, yeah, like, I love those. Rock.
Jenna Redfield 23:33
Yeah. So true. Because I think that, yeah, like that, that success story that you see at a lot of charities like that's, you know, it could be an outlier to you know, you never know, it's it's not everyone's going to become the next Oprah.
Becca Erickson 23:47
I say you don't really need to be Yeah. If you do the best you can to raise the next generation to not be in living in poverty. Do not be truant from school or end up incarcerated, then, bye, job, you've done more than the generation ahead of you. Like ripple effect, tiny change, and then you've done something incredible.
Jenna Redfield 24:08
So how are the kids involved as well, because your work with a lot of the mothers but How are the kids impacted? I guess or like what is their kids programs at all or all of that? Yeah,
Becca Erickson 24:16
so the kids can come I'm during some of the programming, they have babysitters that we pay, but also they do get social services and mental health therapy from Emily or social workers. So some of them really do go through a diagnostic assessment and have something pretty major. I mean, trauma, trauma makes mental health harder for. So Emily can work very closely with moms and kids, which is great. And then sometimes we have just moms and parenting groups where the kids are a part of it. So while the mom is working on sort of her adult education, and you know, looking at the chalkboard full of these kinds of things, we have kids over off to the side who are decorating, you know, plates full of sparkly sequins, you know, we just kind of keep us all in the same room. It just varies from program to program.
Jenna Redfield 25:02
So, for people that are listening that are like, well, I can't donate, but I can volunteer. Like, is it all on your website?
Becca Erickson 25:10
Yep, head to emerge, twin cities.org. Okay, and then under get involved, there's give volunteer events, there's three different ways to easily get involved. And honestly, like, even if you can't even be a bricklayer 25 bucks a month? What about getting your friends together? And have you give 10 all together? You know, tell your friends about 10 $10 is going to help cover a mom through parenting class is crazy. And then that moms children are going to impact your life in 20 years. Like, yeah, it's for the better.
Jenna Redfield 25:42
It is, and is that what drives you to keep doing this? Or what's your drive for this business?
Becca Erickson 25:50
Initially, you know, I could look at my daughter, and know that was why. And it's still is like a, she and I came through something and you got to pay it forward. You got to push it for. But now I can look at all these women. I mean, historically, we've served almost 300 women in the last seven years. And I think every single one of them is my reason for showing up. Every single one. And I look at their kids. And you know, seven years ago, I don't remember all those kids names. But I remember all the kids names from last year's clients. Yeah. And I care about every single one of them. Awesome. Well,
Jenna Redfield 26:24
thank you so much for your time, Becca. We love you guys. And I love for you guys. So if there's anything else we could do, let us know. If you guys want to get involved, make sure to go to their website. They're really awesome. And they really get back really so thanks for so much for listening guys. Any last words? Becca? No, thank you, Jenna so much. Well, thanks, guys for listening in. And I'll talk to you guys next week. Bye.
Thanks for listening to the Twin Cities collective podcast with Jenna Redfield. Make sure to click subscribe if you haven't already. And make sure to leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks again for Ian at Studio Americana for producing this episode, as well as Melanie Lee for designing the podcast art. And thanks to Nicole I had less for the use of the song in the intro intro. Thanks so much again, and I'll see you next time.