Civitas: Our Name. Our Belief.

Civitas is not just a nonprofit serving entrepreneurs, it is a movement. Civitas is the core belief. We are here for each other. For too many generations now we have abdicated our responsibilities to government and institutions to train us up in all areas. But it is our job, our responsibility. It is from the bottom where great movements come. From the people... that change arises.

Civitas is citizenship, especially as imparting shared responsibility, a common purpose, and sense of community. The Civitas is not just the collective body of all the citizens, it is the contract binding them all together.

In South Dakota, we have a special opportunity. Our environment for change is fertile. It's time to plant new seeds. Through We The People we seek to create a nationwide movement of bottoms up development. The people with the least access to the opportunity being given a chance. We believe that entrepreneurship, self-employment, and small business ownership are unique vehicles to give equal access to increase the quality of life for all.

But entrepreneurship isn't available for all. Embedded in the American Dream is the concept of upward mobility. This mobility does happen if the stars align. But not everyone starts at the same point. Not everyone call get a loan, or tap into a social network, or navigate local laws. Does this mean they shouldn't be able to provide value to the market and upward mobility to themselves?

In particular, there are 3 groups of humans who do not have equal access and therefore not equal representation in the entrepreneurship world in South Dakota: women, minorities, and rural. They are disproportionately underrepresented in this state as business owners.

Our team of operators and advisors is uniquely suited to meet this complex challenge. We have decades of combined experience in small business advising, group facilitation, and community building. We have started not for profits, built co-working centers, and facilitated countless community coaching sessions.


United we stand, divided we fall.  



Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

In all ecosystems diversity increases resilience. In human-centered ecosystems, equity, and inclusion ensure that all stakeholders of the community have a voice and representation. Civitas celebrates equity, diversity, and inclusiveness. We embrace these pillars of excellence as crucial to thriving entrepreneurs and entrepreneur ecosystems.

Civitas believes that:

  • Its core values are strengthened when all stakeholders have voice and are encouraged to contribute.

  • Every member of humanity has a contribution to make to the whole. It is our duty to encourage and promote that contribution.

  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion are an active process that requires continuous commitment to promote thriving entrepreneurs, entrepreneur ecosystems and the overall success of present and future generations.

Our values are realized through or by:

  • Fostering a culture of open-mindedness, compassion, and inclusiveness among individuals and groups.

  • Honoring freedom of expression, ideals of citizenry, and civility of discourse as fundamental to personal, professional, and organizational growth.

  • Providing effective leadership in the development, coordination, implementation and assessment of a comprehensive array of programs and services to promote diversity and understanding of differences.

  • Actively building a community whose members have diverse cultures, backgrounds, and life experiences.

  • Reaching beyond the Civitas to establish beneficial relationships with individual and collaborative partners who share mutual goals and interests.

  • Providing educational opportunities toward the development of socially responsible leaders who are willing to engage in the discourse and decision-making that can lead to transformational change toward learning, achievement, healthy people and healthy communities.

 The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

-Mahatma Gandhi



Each of our stakeholder groups holds key influence over our organization's ability to execute our mission and deliver our outcomes.

All of the stakeholders hold critical interdependent seats at our table.



Our customers are directly impacted by the services of Civitas. They hold the highest stakeholder seat as they are the lynchpin to all of our outcomes. We have 3 primary customer groups: women, minority, and rural entrepreneurs.



Our team fully represents and carries out our mission. They have the most day to day contact with our customer groups.


Board members

The board provides the vision for the organization. They stay out in front and make sure we are headed towards our best future version of the organization.


Partner organizations

Civitas will only be able to accomplish its mission in collaboration with other community organizations. These partnerships are crucial for serving all stakeholder groups.



These part visionary, part operational stakeholders multiply our efforts and therefore our outcomes.


People who refer you business

Not often viewed as a stakeholder but referral partners are putting their brand on the line by extending their trust to Civitas through referrals.

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.

Nelson Mandela


Our Customers



While it is well-known that women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, it is seldom acknowledged that women own only 32 cents on the dollar compared to men. Furthermore, just 2.7 percent of all U.S. companies receiving venture capital had a woman CEO, and only 0.2 percent of venture capital goes to African American women – despite the fact that African American women founders are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment.

Source: Kauffman Foundation



While minorities make up more than 35 percent of the population, they own less than 20 percent of employer businesses and only 17.4 percent of businesses with at least one million dollars in revenue. Moreover, minority-owned businesses start smaller and stay smaller.

Source: Kauffman Foundation



Entrepreneurship largely occurs in urban areas, and while mid-sized metros like Kansas City are winning, small cities and towns in places like rural Kansas are losing. In 1977, more than two out of every ten U.S. startups were in rural areas. Today, just over one in every ten startups is in a rural area.

Source: Kauffman Foundation

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin


Our Programs


Delta is a 3 year real-world entrepreneur development program - 2 years of learning and 1 year of practicum. The hallmark of our program is our cohort process. This quarterly peer-to-peer mastermind intensive has a 10-year track record of focusing directly on building the courage and character needed for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. Each business quarter 4 entrepreneurs work together through a 3-round 30-hour Socratic accountability, critique, and strategic planning session. Each session is facilitated by a training “cohort coach” who serves to guide the 30-hour journey. Additionally, we are adding learning opportunities to “upskill” the competency of our entrepreneurs in 3 key areas: finances, sales, and marketing. This unique mix of intense peer-to-peer work as well as ongoing skills training of our entrepreneurs, we feel, prepares them for the dynamic challenges of business ownership better than any other program. The cohort process is inspired by Cylient’s Coaching in the Moment, The Center for Courage and Renewal, The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, and Jael Kampfe.

At the end of the 24-month program, participants have additional learning opportunities to deepen their skills and become trained in facilitating the process themselves. They would first learn to mentor other entrepreneurs through the process with the goal of becoming coaches in the future. This type of “give back” programmatic mentorship is completely missing in rural entrepreneur communities.

Future Programs

Populus - Affordable entrepreneur education focused on minorities.

Market to Market - Engages women and minority population in pop up markets in their neighborhoods. Uncovers current or future entrepreneurs.

Lemonade Day* - Teaches all youth about entrepreneurship and community development. Uncovers future entrepreneurs. *Civitas would apply to be the host the South Dakota Chapter of the trademarked Lemonade Day Program.

Our Collaborating Partners