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Inaugural “CO.STARTERS for Causes” Cohort Graduates from Pasco EDC’s SMARTstart Program

June 4, 2024


Nine Non-Profit organization graduates received a surprise donation thanks to the generosity of the Vinik Family Foundation and United Way of Pasco County.

PASCO COUNTY, FLORIDA (June 4, 2024): The Pasco Economic Development Council (Pasco EDC) is proud to announce the successful completion of the inaugural “CO.STARTERS for Causes” cohort, a unique nine-week program specifically designed for non-profit organizations. The program provided vital training for local non-profit organizations to scale and meet the demands of our growing community. The Pasco EDC entrepreneurship program, SMARTstart, is supported by the Penny-for-Pasco and features an innovative suite of programs that provides the tools growing businesses need for long-term success in areas like funding, education, guidance, collaboration, and workspace. CO.STARTERS is a national program offered through SMARTstart to start ups and businesses looking to work through their business model and learn from industry professionals. This cohort is the first designed specifically for existing non-profit organizations to assist in scaling with increased demand. 

Over nine weeks, participants engaged in a robust curriculum that included topics like knowing their customer, finding the right solution, marketing, financial modeling, and legal considerations.

“It has been a highlight of my career to see such dedicated and passionate individuals take time out of their busy lives to work with one another, share best practices, and collaborate for a brighter future for Pasco's people," stated Dan Mitchell, SMARTstart Program Director.

The program ended with a graduation event where each participant could present their mission and cause. The organizations who participated in the class are listed below and their testimonials can be viewed here:

This inaugural class was funded by the Pasco EDC Presidential Scholarship. “Non-profit organizations in our community stand in the gap where government and the private sector do not,” said Bill Cronin, President/CEO, Pasco EDC. “The need for human services is becoming greater as Pasco County grows, but there are still very few doing this crucial work, so we want to help these organizations scale to meet the need and become even more successful in their mission(s).”

At the end of the graduation ceremony, graduates were each awarded a surprise $600 donation from local community organizations, The Vinik Family Foundation and The United Way of Pasco County. “It’s inspiring to see such professionals with not just the commitment to service but to their own growth and development which will undoubtedly benefit their organizations and all the people they guide and help along the way. We are proud to support each of their missions and greatly appreciate their commitment to serving the people of Pasco County," shared Christina Barker, Chief of Staff, Vinik Family Foundation.

“It is inspiring to see non-profit agencies take steps to operate in a more business-like manner. The reality of our highly competitive world is those who dedicate themselves to maximizing effectiveness and efficiency will be most successful and thus better prepared to deliver on their mission. I applaud these agencies who possessed this insight, took the time, and made the effort to better serve their agency, and thus the community through this special program,” shared Charles W. Anderson, MSW, MBA, President/CEO, United Way of Pasco County.

The next cohort for non-profits is expected to take place in the fall at SMARTstart @ the Grove in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Sponsorship opportunities are available for future cohorts for as little as $345. For more information about the CO.STARTERS for Causes program or to become a sponsor for a future cohort, please reach out to Dan Mitchell, SMARTstart Program Director,

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About Pasco Economic Development Council
The Pasco Economic Development Council is committed to developing Florida's most competitive climate for business growth by providing businesses that seek to start, move, or grow in the North Tampa Bay area, a comprehensive suite of programs that can help them to reach their full economic potential.  Since 1987, Pasco EDC has fostered a strong partnership funded by corporate and public investors focused on the economic vitality of Pasco County.  Discover more at

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