The Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation (SEPA) program is a national award winning program developed in 2011 by the CROPS, Austin College, and the Texoma Council of Governments. SEPA is designed to increase youth leadership in underserved areas, particularly in rural America, by harnessing the spirit of social entrepreneurism and creating social change. The purpose of the program is to: 1) Alleviate poverty in rural America; 2) Build the capacity of nonprofit organizations to meet the needs of low-income, older and diverse populations; and, 3) Reverse large-scale emigration of young people with technical skills or knowledge leaving rural areas and small towns after college.
SEPA provides college students with grant writing training, social entrepreneurship education, and summer internships with community based nonprofits to write grant proposals for local initiatives. In the first year of its implementation seven college students helped generate more than $32,000 in new funding for their nonprofits. In 2014 the program is being expanded to serve 24 nonprofits and 24 college students from four colleges. SEPA is a scalable model program that can be replicated anywhere.
In 2013 SEPA was selected by the National Association of Development Organizations for a national Innovation Award.