meet our members
University of Illinois Springfield, Center for State Policy and Leadership + Center for Entrepreneurship
The University of Illinois Springfield provides Social Innovation and Entrepreneurial support through the Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Center for Entrepreneurship. The Center for State Policy and Leadership provides guidance on the Social Innovation program's focus on the implementation of recommendations from its seminal document, Sangamon Success. Members receiving business incubation can meet for office hours with faculty from the Center for Entrepreneurship.
Forefront is the nation’s only statewide membership association for nonprofits, grantmakers, public agencies, advisors, and their allies. They provide education, advocacy, thought leadership, and facilitate collective action around issues that are important to our Members and to the sector. They host capacity building workshops and seminars at Innovate Springfield supporting social innovation among nonprofits and community organizations in the region.
In order to create great roasted coffee, Custom Cup only selects coffee from superior growing regions around the world, looking for the best offerings possible. We source green (raw) coffee suppliers based on quality, social responsibility and environmental sustainability. By taking pride in our coffee vendors, roasting process, and freshness, you can taste the difference of a roast to order coffee in every cup.
We specialize in identifying select single origin coffee for our offerings. Single origin coffee allows you to trace your coffee directly back to the region, farm or co-op where it was grown. This accountability, along with additional information about climate, elevation, and production processes, allows you to understand more of the exhaustive trip that your coffee has completed. After trying different single origins, you will taste the difference in flavor that each offers.
Started by Catherine Trudeau and her friend Conney, both gardeners and farm operators on the property, our families now work alongside each other, handing down a work ethic and beer recipes from one generation to the next that accompany life on the farm.
We believe in a life well-worked and well-enjoyed. We stay mindful of our roots and where our ingredients come from, including the ones we grow ourselves. Being on the farm isn't easy—and neither is brewing—but it's a lifestyle as much as it is a labor of love.
Madison Regan, Just the Basics Catering
Just The Basics Catering is a licensed & insured mobile bar servicing Springfield, Illinois, and surrounding areas. Celebrate your special occasion while our bartenders serve your desired beverages. From parties, weddings, and everything in-between - our mobile bar comes dressed for the occasion. Let us bring the party to you while you celebrate care-free.
Megan Luckey + Khara Koffel + Darren Iozia,
In November of 2014, Khara decided to make some lip balm for the lovely teachers and aides at the daycare center that her little boy attends, and roped Luckey into helping her (since she knew she would have more fun that way and because Luckey is like her twin from whom she was separated at birth). Two months later, they were making them to sell in a coffee shop. Two months after that? Etsy. A year later? Wholesale and vendor fairs. Fast forward to 2017 and their lip balm is sold in about 60 retail locations all over the country. Next stop? LIP BALM WORLD DOMINATION.
Chad Graue, C. Graue Consulting
Chad received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in the early 2000s and spent a decade employed as a long-term care consultant and infusion pharmacist in Central Illinois. There came a time when Chad and his wife Katie started a family and desired greater flexibility and earning potential. He got a taste of success, realized more flexibility and saw a MUCH bigger vision for the life he wanted after he and his wife started a home-based health and wellness business that ultimately allowed him to transition out of the Pharmacy profession.
In growing his health and wellness business, Chad realized that he had acquired many marketable skills desired by businesses, specifically in the areas of email marketing automation and post-sale focused marketing. Chad decided to selectively partner with clients to grow their businesses, and C. Graue Consulting, Inc. was born.
Kirk Kellus + Jone Roe, Clean Impact LLC
Kirk and Jon have had a long history of cleaning together and growing up Kirk and Jon always felt the forced responsibility to keep a clean space. The nerve of their parents for making them clean their rooms and do the dishes.
They first met during a weekend camping trip while joining a business fraternity. Kirk was the only one smart enough to bring a big ass tent and giant air mattress, and Jon was the only one slick enough to sneak in prohibited “adult beverages” obviously they became fast friends! Their destiny was sealed early the next morning (red-eyed and tired) as they cleaned up the huge mess from the previous night’s shenanigans.
After college they both entered the working world and quickly excelled into leadership positions, building and running multi-million dollar businesses. Over the past decade, they have managed projects for Fortune 100 Companies and trained hundreds of people along the way. But, the most rewarding job of all is taking care of their beautiful families.
With entrepreneurial mindsets, Kirk and Jon decided it was finally time to branch off on their own and start a family-oriented small business, with the mission of serving and helping people. Clean Impact will change the commercial cleaning game.
Deepak Dhankher, Aggieland Software
Aggieland is a software development and IT consulting company that specializes in solving your problems with IT software solutions. Along with serving their employees and clients, the team aspires to achieve sustainable growth and deliver efficient business processes. Aggieland is a Springfield-based software development company that aims to contribute to local economic growth by improving their clients' business processes and strives to grow along with their clients and employees.
Kelly Hurst, Being Black at School
Being Black at School advocates for equity and safety for students of color and students whose experiences are traditionally underrepresented in school policies. A lifelong educator who knows that a broken system isn’t ever an option when it comes to educating students - BBAS trains districts, schools, and parents to find insights in readily-available data to make lasting changes that protect all students and provide a supportive, equal learning environment for all students
Rasha Said, Sensible Innovations
Sensible Innovations was created and is being brought to market by Rasha Said, the parent of a child who is visually impaired. Rasha created the AWARE concept out of a glaring need for better audio-information technology. She is dedicated to making AWARE a marquee wayfinding brand in the location-based SmartLandmark (iBeacon) services market, with the ultimate goal of creating a new paradigm in services for people who are visually impaired.
Before founding Sensible Innovations, Rasha was an actuarial and financial analyst with a background in mathematics and computer science. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in mathematics from the American University in Cairo and master’s degree (MBA) in finance from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
Nichol Timms was born and raised right here in Springfield, IL. Nichol began singing at an early age in the youth gospel choir at church and later became a choir director. While still in school, Nichol competed in the District 186 All City vocal competition where she was awarded a Superior rating. Nichol later went on to become a member of the Southeast High School Sensations Show Choir. Nichol has been involved with many drama productions and has had major roles in the Joel PE King production of A Deeper Shade of Blue and the play A Letter to Heaven written and directed by Ms. Donna Jefferson. Both productions were held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Nichol loves to sing and provide vocal coaching in all genres of music with a special interest in Neo-soul, Gospel, Gospel-Jazz, R & B and contemporary jazz. Nichol had the awesome opportunity to share the stage with the band Kapital Sound during their October 2018 and January 2019 show and looks forward to singing at your next event or helping you or the aspiring singer in your life level-up their skill and nail their next audition.
Rusty Jones, Hello Water
Did you know that 97% of Americans do not get their daily recommended amount of fiber?! Most are getting only about half of their daily amount. hellowater is trying to close that gap by creating a fun and fresh delivery system for fiber with inspiring flavored water that is both refreshing and delicious! Oh, and with ZERO sugar! Find a retailer near you and take the fiber challenge.
Dr. Josh Renken, Practice Water
Practice Water helps dental practices become more profitable with strategies to improve the 3 critical practice growth factors:
Team: Practice Water enhances your dental team's ability to work together, so the practice runs more efficiently, increasing both profits and team happiness.
Patients: Practice Water shows you how to help patients value and choose care for themselves, so they keep coming back for treatment and get healthier over time.
Practice Profit: The Practice Water team trains you to understand the business side of your practice so you can reduce overhead and increase profits.
Jacqueline Gragg, Strategic Client Solutions, LLC
The mission of Strategic Client Solutions (SCS) is to deliver strategic solutions for our clients. SCS provides an array of client focused services to assist individuals and state governments with obtaining social security disability benefits, enhance state and local government approach to revenue potential. SCS improves our client’s performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of plans for improvement. SCS services include; comprehensive consulting to help identify gaps and opportunities, project management, scrum/agile services and training advisory. SCS is committed to helping our clients exceed their goals.
Laura Rabe, Cherrybrook Photography
Cherrybrook Photography is a specialty wedding photography business located in Springfield, Illinois, serving the greater Midwest area. We are proud to be the favorite for people seeking unique and memorable wedding images. We capture weddings, engagement sessions, family events, and portraits. Uniquely captured, beautifully documented memories are continually created and shared on the website blog. Visit today at www.cherrybrookstudio.com.
Laura Rabe is the founder and a face behind the lens. As lead photographer, Laura captures delightful chaos, romantic love, and joyous tears—from large events to everything in-between. In 2003, Laura joined the United States Navy as a Photographer’s Mate in search of adventure and a desire to tell stories through photographs. During her training in old-school film and photojournalism, she fell for the greatest story ever—capturing love. Laura's dream of capturing love stories is now her business: Cherrybrook Photography. She majored in business and legal studies as an undergrad and is currently an MBA candidate focusing on operations management. Laura is a life-long learner, interested in pursuing knowledge that will improve the client experience and deliver beautiful and delightful memories. Laura is always striving for more, while, with a smile, appreciating the small things.
AbilityMarketplace.com is an e-commerce marketplace and resource for entrepreneurs with disabilities. Ability Marketplace promotes established e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses owned by people with disabilities throughout the U.S. The website also provides resources for people with differences to start a business and a support network. The goal is to improve the incredibly high rate of unemployment among people with disabilities in the United States – more than 70 percent. Daniel Olsen developed the idea for the Ability Marketplace as a high school student in Sangamon CEO. He has faced challenges as a person with a disability to find a job. Mom Theresa Grimaldi Olsen passionately works to make it a reality and secure a future for Daniel and others with disabilities.
Legacies of Hope sells inspirational art featuring innovators and trailblazers. Decorate your classrooms and offices with original art - prints, posters, magnets and t-shirts that will encourage you to be an innovator and trailblazer.
Jay Whitter, JEI Real Estate Investing
Jaguar Estates, Inc. is a private equity and asset management company based in Springfield, Illinois and operating across the nation. We are an active investor across a number of diversified strategies that focus on Our primary focus is acquiring real estate properties with potential equity to provide clients with long-dated cash flows in residential and commercial properties. Our goal is simple, to provide excellent customer service and add value to our client’s portfolio. We have offices in the Chicago Area and Miami Metro. Our team members are the experts in this area.
Evelyn Ivy, Lifestyle CPA
Lifestyle CPA takes a different approach to accounting because accounting is not only about debits and credits, dollars and cents but it’s the story of business. The goal of Lifestyle CPA is twofold:
At Lifestyle CPA, we strive to help entrepreneurs make sense of their numbers by helping entrepreneurs understand how their processes contribute to their bottom line; by optimizing their accounting system for both profitability and tax liabilities; and by making relevant suggestions to help meet both business and personal goals.
On the other hand, Lifestyle CPA aims to improve the life of accounting professionals by providing work flexibility.
Aaliyah Kissick, AK Boutique
From attacking the thrift store racks at 7 years old to owning her own upscale resale store 10 years later, Aaliyah Kissick and her AK Boutique are highly fashion-centered. AK Boutique strives to deliver elegant, economic, pre-loved clothing to young women and the young at heart in the Central Illinois area. Focused on such areas as community and sustainability, a stop at AK Boutique will have you feeling more connected with your tribe and the fragile balance between humanity and the environment. Frequent shoppers to AK Boutique report having more money to spend with their loved ones due to our INCREDIBLY low prices. AK Boutique: for lovers of fashion, family, community, and the environment.
Bethany Burbridge Stremmel, Razzle B. Dazzle
Sparkle Without the Guilt. Did you know that nearly every particle of glitter that has ever been manufactured is still hanging out on our planet? Traditional glitter is a micro-plastic that, like the banned microbeads formerly found in scrubs and body washes, pollutes our waterways and landfills to an extent that is causing a global environmental crisis. Razzle B. Dazzle biodegradable glitter provides the same sparkle aesthetic as its plastic counterpart, but is vegan (plant-based), compostable, cosmetic-grade, and biodegrades in natural waterways. Razzle B. Dazzle founder, Bethany Burbridge Stremmel, is a Graduate Student in the Library and Information Sciences program at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and full-time Office Support Specialist at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Harvey Horton, Stuff-it Storage
Stuff-It has revolutionized the storage industry by combining the three major aspects of the industry into one company: Self-storage, Mobile Storage, and Valet storage. We want our customers to not only store their assets, but preserve them.
Our storage units are movable, so a consumer can use it as a moving device as well as a storage unit. Units will be taken to “parks”’ where other units will be stored. We call our units Asset Relocation Containers, or ARCs. Thus, where they reside is referred to as an “ARC Park”. Or, let your fingers do the work with our Valet Storage app on your phone, where Stuff-it does all the work.
Stuff-It solves the most common problems by providing containers that are solid steel and completely sealed. ARCs are resistant to fire, water, entry of rodents and other pests and is theft-proof. With assets completely safe, they are not only stored, but they’re preserved so customers retrieve them in the condition they were left.
Finally, Stuff-it offers customers a way to actually build equity, and even earn income off of their ARC. Offering this platform, completely changes the way customers will see their storage options. Stuff-it will show customers how to store for FREE!
John Maynerich, AIA, LEED AP, Associate, BLDD Architects
Like so many budding architects, John realized his love for architecture building things from Legos and other household items that would satisfy his imagination of the built environment. John comes from a large, loving family. He and his wife Margo have a large family of their own with five children. He enjoys sharing his love of art, architecture, and design with them and anyone he meets. John is a kid at heart. He has a good nature and loves inventing and playing games with family and friends. His philosophy is that laughter and camaraderie should be a part of everything we do.
Great videos are more than great images. Great videos tell stories. Great videos move people. That’s why we exist. To connect people through the power of story. Josh is an Emmy-nominated video producer with a team that's dedicated to creating compelling corporate films, television commercials, and online marketing videos for businesses and causes.
Kim Kurtenbach, AIA, LEED AP, REFP, BLDD Architects
Kim truly believes that the most rewarding experience as an architect is being of service to others and influencing their lives with the built environment she inspired. Living in India with her family and traveling around the world was her early inspiration, well, after Legos, Lincoln Logs, and dollhouses. As the daughter of lifelong educators, she had planned to teach high school art but was encouraged by her parents to consider an architecture education. Designing a school in college allowed her to combine the two things she loved, architecture and education. After college, Kim sought out BLDD Architects and has dedicated herself to the profession and committed herself to seeing every project succeed.
Silja Yanz, NCIDQ, LEED AP, Senior Project Manager, Whitney Architects
Made up of a diverse group of architects and interior designers, Whitney is a design firm built on the fundamental belief that our work can change people’s lives for the better. We develop innovative, personalized solutions through focused listening and creative problem-solving. Above all, WE LISTEN. We are proud of our reputation for providing what our clients want and, more importantly, helping to define what our clients need – delivering both on time and within budget.
At Whimsy Tea Company we believe that tea is not just a beverage, it’s a lifestyle. It offers us an opportunity to calm our minds and spirits while nourishing our bodies.Whimsy Tea Company was founded in order to provide the highest quality of teas, herbal infusions, and tea-infused products to everyone with the utmost of convenience. We give our customers access to high quality, fair-trade teas and an entire range of health and beauty products featuring the absolute best the botanical world has to offer.
Abriana Robinson, RAWE
RAWE is a brand, a way of life, a style, and an action. RAWEArt is raw and undisguised. This company was birthed out of the need to create a society of individuals who actively give back to their communities by promoting solutions toward social change and serving others. In doing so, I wanted to create something that was different, something that uses art to tell an uncompromising, truthful story. We empower social entrepreneurs and nonprofits to build their brands through visual storytelling, community building, and consultancy. RAWE specializes in storytelling through photography and organizing collaborative events to increase brand awareness and connect like-minded people. We will expand to offer training programs that teach companies innovative strategies, cultural competency, and environmental sustainability. We operate from the following value statements;
Collectivity + Unity = Stability (Peace)
Hope + Action = Progression
Cultural Intelligence + Environmental Respect = Access & Preservation
Creativity + Innovation = Inspiration
RAWE Photography forms ideas into visual adaptations, our purpose is to help tell the many stories of those who promote solutions toward social change and the betterment of their communities. Whether you are a corporation, nonprofit, or an individual, we bring the spotlight to you and your vision.
Haven’t yet decided how you want to give back to your community, or to be a social entrepreneur?
We are still committed to being a part of your vision by capturing those small precious moments make life long memories. Our portfolio includes Graduation, Modeling, Children & Family, Event, and Creative projects. Our most unique photo shoot is our photowalks, it gives you the ultimate creativity for your vision. Photowalks are multi-location adventures designed by you, with your personal photographer there to capture all the action!
Life Winks™ is a self-empowerment tool for kids, providing simple journaling and drawing support for children coping with divorce. Created by Aaron W. Wemple, the who founded Clean Law after spending years in engineering school, a career in scientific law practices, and two decades in the classical family law practices. He felt a need to integrate state-of-the-art scientific family law practices with classical family law practices. Now he's learning Integrative Studies at SIU-E. Clean Law is licensing others to practice its patent-pending D.I.Y. Family Law 2.0 so that children will not feel left out during the divorce process. Mississippi College School of Law Professor Alina Ng Boyte calls Family Law 2.0 "...an innovative new program mitigating the effects of divorce on children."
Donovan Sanchez, Skyview Financial Planning, LLC
Skyview Financial Planning, LLC is a flat-fee only financial planning and investment management firm that specializes in serving physicians and other high income/high debt professionals. Clients pay a flat fee for advice that helps them live their intentions and values today while responsibly planning for tomorrow.