MIAH SOMMER: How Nonprofits Can Miss the Individual
40% of young adults aging out of foster care are unemployed – so in an era of low unemployment, why is that and what can be done to change it? Self-confessed rebel with a cause, Miah Sommer has an answer. However, to get there, he challenges us to rethink our mental model of non-profits – particularly the ‘size’ and ‘quantity’ dimensions. When we only focus on measuring success and effectiveness using a ‘bigger is better’ metrics, then we run the risk thinking the smaller nonprofit is ineffective. In a funny and thought-provoking talk, Miah seeks to disprove the mainstream perception, providing a different, and equally successful equation for non-profits. That of small and focused. Especially when serving people, and especially when many of them are vulnerable and at risk and often fall off the radar. As a social entrepreneur, moreover a juvenile delinquent entrepreneur, Miah feels he has more in common with those he serves that those who donate funding. He founded The Bike Union Mentoring Project to provide workforce development and social skills for young adults impacted by the foster care system. He and the team have found that by focusing on a few individuals at a time, they can provide greater longer lasting impact. It takes a long time to build trust, skills and confidence, and that is critical in enabling those in the project to take control of their lives and destinies. Miah feels like Jean Vanier, that instead of changing the world, there is a place for those who seek to provide a little light… and a lot of little lights make just as big an impact.
Miah Sommer is a social entrepreneur and the founder and Executive Director of The Bike Union and Coffee, a non-profit bicycle shop and coffeehouse that provides workforce development and life skills to youth who have aged out of foster care. Sommer also co-founded BUMP, an activity based mentoring organization designed to get youth outdoors using both mountain biking and hiking activities.
Miah lives in Omaha with his wife, Katie, their two children Henry and Charlie, and their dog Willie. In his spare time Sommer enjoys spending time with his family, reading, collecting vinyl records, and mountain biking.
Miah Sommer is a successful social entrepreneur, produced playwright, published author, accomplished musician, and an adequate bike racer. Sommer attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he majored in History and Religion.