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  • Writer's pictureKatie Overfield-Zook

The Power of Partnerships

Sometimes the best partnerships come from completely random interactions. Last fall, after registering for SCCF’s Business Bootcamp, one individual sent a followup email asking how the Harrisonburg Redevelopment Housing Authority (HRHA) could pay for her registration fee. When all inquiries to SCCF staff resulted in blank looks of confusion, Katie Overfield-Zook, SCCF Ecosystem Builder and Director of Programs, reached out to the HRHA. She was eventually connected with Victoria Hill, Resident Services and Communications Coordinator who was immediately eager to help out!


“The Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority was very excited to learn about the possibility of collaborating with SCCF to bring the necessary skills and knowledge to aspiring entrepreneurs. SCCF’s Business Bootcamp covers the fundamental entrepreneurial building blocks with their sessions detailing how to create an elevator pitch, set up your business legally, make cash flow projections, and much more! HRHA believes that investing in education is a critical determinant in increasing one’s socioeconomic mobility, so we were very excited to help enable our Family Self Sufficiency participants with this learning opportunity,” said Victoria.


This particular Business Bootcamp participant was also a HRHA client in the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program. According to the HRHA website, the FSS program helps participants develop long and short-term goals that will increase their ability to earn a higher income for themselves and their families. “As soon as I heard about the mission of the FSS program and HRHA in general I knew there was an opportunity there for collaboration,” Katie said. “The work we do through Business Bootcamp gives folks skills that will benefit them - like problem identification and solving, public speaking, and self reflection on workplace strengths and weaknesses - regardless of whether they start a business or not. An entrepreneurial mindset will get you far in life, even if you never start your own business!”

From there SCCF and HRHA were able to develop a partnership that fully funded 15 HRHA clients to attend the spring 2023 Business Bootcamp class.

Mary Walala, who also works for the HRHA, joined the spring class with the idea of starting a short term rental service for people who want to rent out their homes for extended periods of time, but don’t want to worry about managing the bookings and background checks. “I heard about the Business Bootcamp through working at the Harrisonburg Housing Authority, and thought it would be a good idea to check it out. I had been thinking about my business idea for a while, but it was hard to make time to work on it. The Bootcamp really made me focus and put pen to paper, and the assignments helped to keep pushing me further along. I thought that by the end I might come out with a written business plan, but what I really got out of it was the foundation of how to think through the creation of a strong business.” Over the next six months, Mary wants to dig into research into what similar businesses are doing, and what the legal implications of her service would look like, “I’d love a second Bootcamp to go ever more in depth into some of the topics!”


By collaborating with the HRHA, SCCF was able to reach a whole new audience of entrepreneurs, who might not have found the program otherwise. Now, there are 15 new people who have begun to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Not only does this help the individuals as entrepreneurs, but also benefits them in their work through the HRHA, giving them new skills to bring to their projects.

If you’re interested in opportunities to collaborate with SCCF for future Business Bootcamps, reach out to Jessica Bond at jessica@sccfva.org.



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