On November 3, 2020, Matthew Kane spoke to the membership of the Magnolia Rotary Club about a community project started by his club in Raleigh NC called "Launch My City". Pictured above is Matthew Kane.
Matthew Kane started his presentation by telling everyone that he had previously lived in Houston, Texas for 6 years before moving to Raleigh North Carolina and that he has been a Rotarian for 23 years.
Matthew then presented a slideshow and talked about exactly what "Launch My City" is, how it got started, and where it is today (see below). Basically the idea for this community project came when his club was trying to come up with a project to celebrate the club's 50th birthday. The members decided to talk to people in some of the poorer areas of the city to find out what they needed most. The results were that people just wanted a chance to start their own business and take care of themselves. After a number of meeting and discussions, "Launch Raleigh" was started to bring entrepreneurship to under served communities in Raleigh, NC.
They quickly decided that they could not do everything themselves and determined that they needed at least 6 community partners to achieve their goals. The partners needed were:
  • Education Partners - someone to help provide training and a place to hold classes.
  • Community Developer Partners - someone to help decide who could best be served by this program and to locate the individuals that were interested.
  • Rotary Club Partners - additional Rotary partners if more people power is needed.
  • Finance Partners - someone who can handle the loan arrangements.
  • Mentor Partners - people who have business experience and are willing to train others about what they know.
  • City Partners - government agencies that can help facilitate their efforts.
Matthew then showed a photo of their first "Launch Raleigh" graduating class (see below). Each graduate was required to give a 5-10 minutes talk about the business they started and it turns out they were really glad to tell people about what they had accomplished. In addition, it was determined that the majority of the graduates had a college degree but did not know to get started with their business dream.

"Launch Raleigh" also had a brochure printed up with all of their businesses including the names of their businesses and contact information. This brochure was then put up on a website to help attract customers. Each business was then given the opportunity to request a mentor to work with them. Almost 95% of the graduates wanted to get a mentor and all the students were allowed to interview the mentors before being paired up with someone they felt good about.
The educational partner that was chosen was the Kauffman Foundation who offered their services for the project. The curriculum was as follows:
For financial needs, the club turned to PayPal and Kiva.org (lending partner). Loans are typically around $2,000 with an upper limit of $10,000. Crowd Funding loans can also be had at 0% interest.
Once other Rotary Clubs in the area heard about the success of " Launch Raleigh", at least eight other clubs repeated their success. As a result, "Launch My City" was created to support projects at one level higher.
For more information, go to the Rotary Club of Raleigh NC at: https://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofRaleigh/ or https://www.raleighrotary.org.
A photo of those in attendance via Zoom can be seen below: