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No job? Make your own. Here are 7 ways to get help.

One alternative to looking for a job is to make your own. Here are seven nonprofits who offer tools, training, and ideas to get workers started.

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All Our Kin prepared her for certification as a child development associate, helped her apply for her license, and provided technical assistance, including one-on-one mentorship from a master teacher. AOK clients get boxes of free materials that range from smoke detectors to art supplies, and Richardson even got a low-interest loan to fence her yard.

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“I don’t feel like I’m babysitting kids,” she says. “I feel like I’m an educator.” Today she is certified as an Early Head Start provider and employs an assistant to help care for five infants and toddlers.

AOK opened in reaction to welfare reform, which pushed mothers into low-paying jobs that didn’t cover the cost of child care. Founders Jessica Sager and Janna Wagner began training women to provide outstanding child care in their homes. They expanded AOK’s work when many existing child care providers in Connecticut started going under. They believed that with good training and support these businesses could be sustainable and extend high-quality care to neighborhoods where it was scarce.

Their strategy worked: The number of providers is actually increasing in New Haven.

With the right skills, child care can be a great career, according to Richardson. “If you have the love for the kids, I recommend it,” she says. – C.S.

4. Ignite! Local Business

Training and mutual support go a long way in making small enterprises viable. That’s no secret to the graduates of Urban FIRE (Financial Intelligence, Responsible Entrepreneurship), a nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., that provides an affordable “crash course” for would-be entrepreneurs in the inner city.

The resulting new businesses are launched every year at the Ignite! New Business Expo, a showcase to encourage community support.

Teamwork extends beyond the classroom for Urban FIRE graduates. The founder of Our Cuban Kitchen in Oakland, for example, buys the restaurant’s desserts and marketing services from fellow graduates.

It’s just the sort of collaboration that Urban FIRE founder Boku Kodama envisions as the basis of a local economy. “What Ignite! and Urban FIRE attempt to do is create intra-dependent villages within their communities so that they can be more self-sustainable without relying on so-called social service programs,” he says. – Lily Hicks

5. Instant Office

Independent workers may need a ready-made office for just a few hours, or all day, every day, and that’s just what’s provided by Citizen Space in San Francisco, Calif. Freelancers can pay a small fee to drop in occasionally, or a monthly membership for dedicated desk space, 24/7 building access, conference rooms, and office amenities.

But this is more than just an office. It’s one of the growing number of coworking spaces that has sprouted throughout Europe and North America in the past five years as collaborative alternatives to working from home.

Citizen Space gives members access to a computer clinic on efficient use of technology – vital to independents whose computers serve as business hubs. It’s just one of the classes and events offered to promote good business practices and encourage social interaction. The networking opportunities are endless, and the atmosphere – somewhere between an office and a coffee shop – proves that people don’t need to work for the same company to be colleagues. – Krista Vogel

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