Interview with Academy Manager Jenny McCarthy.

Ahead of The Academy kicking off in just a couple of weeks time, we talk to Jenny, who has just been appointed Academy Manager.

Photos by Yulia Skulskikh

The Circle Academy is a practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business. The programme is open to anyone who wants to create positive, social or environmental change in a sustainable and commercially viable way.

When did you join The Circle, tell us about your journey with The Circle?

I joined The Circle in 2019 after working for Kirsty’s other business, ACK Third Sector Consultants CIC. I had worked at ACK since leaving school in 2014 and had a lot of experience working with third sector organisations in different areas including marketing, so I initially came to The Circle to support with the marketing side of things. I then transitioned to working with Kirsty on the consultancy services after ACK merged with The Circle. Using the knowledge I’d built through the consultancy, I supported on every cohort of the Academy through developing the resources, running 1-to-1s with candidates and even judging on a pitching contest. It felt like a natural progression for me to then move into the Academy Manager role.

Why did The Academy come about?

The idea for the Academy came mostly from the experiences of Kirsty and our consultancy team. It became clear that there are a lot of people in the sector with passion and great ideas for addressing societal issues, but not enough business experience to make those ideas reach their full potential. The Academy was set up to combat this.

You get to see a lot of ‘eureka’ moments on the Academy where something really clicks and things start to fall into place; I love that.

Jenny, Academy Manager

How long has The Academy been running and how many people has it supported?

The Circle Academy was first launched in 2019 and has now supported 30 individuals over 4 cohorts. We’ve had a real mix of candidates, with people from all different industries and at all stages of development.

What’s been your highlight of The Academy?

It’s too hard for me to pick one specific moment if I’m being honest! My favourite part of every cohort has always been when they come to the end of the 12 weeks and you can see how much they’ve developed not only their knowledge but their confidence and self-belief. We recently had an alumni catch up call and there were people from each cohort there; it was amazing hearing how much things have progressed for them since taking part in the programme.

What are you most excited about whilst running The Academy?

Mostly I’m excited to hear all of the candidates’ ideas and seeing how they evolve while they’re on the programme. You get to see a lot of ‘eureka’ moments on the Academy where something really clicks and things start to fall into place; I love that.

Why should people join The Academy?

If they have an idea but don’t know how to take it to fruition, or if they’re running something and have hit a wall, the Academy is a great opportunity. The knowledge shared on the programme comes from a place of experience rather than pure theory. The Circle and our guest speakers have all ‘got the t-shirt’ on the topics we cover. We’ll always be honest and have the difficult conversations about what’s not working with someone’s project. And our candidates become part of a community who can support each other and collaborate on projects.

The Circle, has received funding from The Scottish Government to provide 25 spaces on the next cohort. The grant has been awarded to allow individuals from three target groups to take part in The Circle Academy.

We are looking for people from the following groups and you must fit at least one of the criteria below;

  • those from or working in rural communities.
  • people whose business is in the environmental space.
  • young people under 30.

The Circle Academy is open for applications and has 25 fully-funded places.

We are thrilled to announce that The Circle has been awarded funding from the Scottish Government to provide 25 subsidised places on the next cohort of our Academy. The grant has been awarded to allow individuals from three target groups to take part in the entrepreneurial training programme, given by The Circle Academy. 

The Circle Academy is a 12-week online programme, for individuals, start-ups and organisations, who want their business to have a social impact, while operating in a commercially sustainable way. It is a practical and educational training programme for individuals or organisations interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business.

The Circle Academy is an SQA accredited programme focused on developing skills in business planning, governance, finance, marketing, funding and pitching – with social impact.

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The Circle appoints new Academy Manager Jenny McCarthy pictured.

The Circle Academy appoints a new Academy manager.

The Circle Academy is a practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business and is open to anyone who wants to create positive, social or environmental change in a sustainable and commercially viable way. We have supported an incredible 30 social entrepreneurs over the two years we have been running it.

Ahead of the launch of the 5th cohort, we are thrilled to announce our new Academy Manager is Jenny McCarthy. Jenny has been part of The Circle team since 2019, previously working for ACK Third Sector Consultants CIC which we merged with 2 years ago. As part of the ACK team, she was part of a team that supported individuals and organisations at all stages of their careers in a variety of areas. Jenny has helped support organisations in areas such as fundraising, event planning, feasibility studies and marketing. She has been a member of our consultancy team since she joined us in 2019 and has provided support in a few areas including grant writing, business planning and legal structures. Jenny has assisted with the Academy since its inception and will now be taking this knowledge and experience to run the programme. We know this move is going to be great for The Academy and the candidates and we can’t wait to see Jenny grow into this role.

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A group of 21 people standing together in front of a building underneath a sign with The Circle logo on it

Scotland’s Social Enterprise Action Plan: How The Circle aligns with priority areas

In 2016 The Scottish Government published its 10 year Social Enterprise Strategy. This plan, developed in collaboration with organisations within the sector, sets out the government’s ambitions for social enterprise in Scotland. As part of this, a Social Enterprise Action Plan for 2021 to 2024 was published in March 2021.

How does The Circle see itself fitting into the Social Enterprise Action Plan?

The Scottish Government have highlighted a number of key priority areas within the plan to help achieve the aims of the Social Enterprise Strategy. We were delighted to see there were a number of areas where our work already aligns with some of the strategy’s key priority areas:

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A group of 21 people standing together in front of a building underneath a sign with The Circle logo on it

£80,000 has been distributed in Dundee through the Resilient Communities programme

A total of £80,000 has been distributed to Dundee social entrepreneurs over the past four years through a strategic partnership between The Circle and national funding body, UnLtd. This funding was awarded through UnLtd’s Resilient Communities programme, a project which aimed to support and work with social entrepreneurs to build resilient and enterprising communities in areas throughout the UK.

Through the People’s Postcode Lottery, grants have been awarded in South Wales Valleys, North Staffordshire, Brighton and Dundee. Grants were also awarded in 19 other areas of the UK through Local Trust.

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Dundee’s Social Entrepreneurs receive thousands in funding from UnLtd after a successful pitch event.

Four local social entrepreneurs have been awarded a total of £16,000 in funding for the development of their socially impactful ventures. The four individuals were amongst a number of entrepreneurs who pitched their ventures to a panel at the Resilient Communities Do It Award pitch event last December. Jill Duke, Sharon Wilson-Hodgson, Marco Notrangelo, and Naomi MacIntosh each received up to £5,000 to go towards start-up costs alongside a tailored package of ongoing support and 1-1 coaching from UnLtd.

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Everything You’ve Missed From The Circle So Far In 2021

At the end of each month we release a newsletter to our subscriber to share updates from us at The Circle, opportunities for individuals in the third sector, and some wisdom and good news from the team to uplift and inspire.

Sharing our knowledge in order to support the growth of More Than Profit, Social Enterprise, and charity organisations is a key part of our mission at The Circle. Our newsletter is one of the many ways we aim to do this.

You can catch up on the content from our January Newsletter below and subscribe here to receive future newsletters.

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Squaring The Circle on SROI with Lynn Hendry

Demonstrating the impact and value of your organisation essential, especially nowadays for the continued success of your organisation.

Organisations are accountable to their funders in terms of evidencing how they have spent any grants they receive and the outcomes of the projects these have funded. And increasingly, consumers are considering a companies social impact when making purchasing decisions, and in an era of greenwashing and virtue signaling, consumers want proof of what their money is going to support.

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Pitch Perfect: The Circle Academy celebrates 2020’s participating Social Entrepreneurs

Cohort 3 of The Circle Academy commenced on the 17th of September 2020 after 6 months of what can only be described as COVID-related chaos. It was an immense victory for us to be able to pilot the first ever fully digital Academy programme, with a brand new Academy Manager, a purpose built online learning platform and eight existing or aspiring social business leaders along for the ride.

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