When nonprofits mean business: A collaboration between Uniquely Diverse and Open Mic Network

The pandemic has been hard for most of us here in Virginia – from the small business owner struggling to keep the doors open, to the employee praying they have a job next week, to the dreamer who always wanted to start their own business who may be wondering if now is the time to act.

No matter where you stand in the workforce development process, Uniquely Diverse, Open Mic Network and the ladies who run these two organizations are here to make sure you have access to all the resources you need to make your dreams a reality.

What is Uniquely Diverse?

At the helm of Uniquely Diverse is Executive Director Rebecca Mann and Director of Partnerships Shawana King. From the networking events like The Walking Art Experience to monthly workshops on topics like soft skills and leadership, Mann and King are hard at work creating experiences and curating resources to better serve business leaders in the community.

Rebecca Mann, executive director of Uniquely Diverse.

“We’ve been a nonprofit in progress for a couple of years now, and it’s heightened and more necessary now because of the culture of the world we’re in,” said Mann. “With COVID and social justice initiatives, protesting and even with politics, it’s becoming necessary to remind people we’re all unique and diverse. We need to come together to support everyone to be successful.”

Uniquely Diverse partners with Open Mic Network on all of its events, and as a 501(c)(3), Uniquely Diverse serves as a scholarship resource for those looking to take paid trainings and workshops through Open Mic Network.

What is Open Mic Network?

Open Mic Network is fresh off the nonprofit presses and was founded at the beginning of 2021. In partnership with Uniquely Diverse, Open Mic Network serves as the business arm, with monthly membership dues from those who are interested in joining the network.

For a monthly fee of $99, members get access to four mixers a year, advertising at each of these events, discounts, a newsletter subscription, free peer-to-peer consultation and discounted event space. Additionally, Open Mic Network has developed relationships with PPE companies, so events booked through it gets supplied with all the masks and sanitizer needed to host a safe event. It also has relationships to ensure events are accessible for individuals with visual, hearing and physical impairments.

With a shared vision, Uniquely Diverse and Open Mic Network are looking to build bridges and connections within the community so together, all ships rise with the tide.

Shawana King, director of partnerships at Uniquely Diverse and general manager at Open Mic Network.

“What I love about us, we typically come in and help counsel to see where there is room for improvement,” said King, who also serves as the general manager of Open Mic Network. “We come together with a business to help them. We need the engine of our economy to be rolling – single freelancers, business – we need everyone to win.”

The connection between Uniquely Diverse and Open Mic Network has been a seedling of an idea for a while, but the pandemic and the need in the community only expedited Mann and King’s vision.

“We want people to always feel like they can push for greatness,” said King. “So, there is always something to reach for and an opportunity to grow. I want people to know no matter what someone else is doing, you have the ability to do it for you.”

To learn more about Uniquely Diverse, Open Mic Network and its offerings, visit the Uniquely Diverse website.

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