Philanthropitch Atlanta 2016: Social Entrepreneurs are helping your community!
Attending the TechCrunch Atlanta MeetUp and Digital Summit has motivated me to go to more events in the Metro Atlanta area. Even though most of my continuous learning is done by reading books and blogs, the online world can never fully replace the real world.
This time, I went to PhilanthroPitch ATL, a different kind of event.
Philanthropitch™ is a social impact fast-pitch competition that provides high-potential nonprofits and social enterprises with access to human and financial capital.
On June 9th, Philanthropitch put the spotlight on Atlanta’s most promising nonprofits and provided a platform to share their vision for impacting our community.
If you’re a FOMO like me, here’s what happened.
Before the event
I’ve learn about PhilanthroPitch Atlanta through the new company that recruited me thanks to my blog, Sage. Through the Sage Foundation, Sage was offering a $10,000 cash grant to support the social entrepreneurs pitching that night.
They needed some employees to volunteer to be part of the Sage panel, so I immediately raised my hand to be a part of this fun and exciting opportunity!
Before the event started, I had time to do several things:
Mingle with coworkers: Sage is a big organization (10,000 employees Worldwide), so it was nice to meet employees from other teams in a more casual context to learn what they do and how we could collaborate.
Network: Besides talking to the companies that were about to pitch, it was great to talk to people from other organizations. You never know when a new opportunity will present itself.
Explore the Junior Achievement’s Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center: With a mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy, Junior Achievement works with organizations to expand youth education and economic development in their communities. Since opening its doors in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2013, the Discovery Center has worked with local businesses to reach 100,000 middle schoolers throughout metro Atlanta. The location in the Georgia World Congress Center truly is amazing, and made me realized how big this place is (1.4 million square feet of prime exhibit space, 106 meeting rooms, 3 auditoriums and 2 grand ballrooms). Not only they held MoMoCon and the V-103 car and bike show, but now this!
During the event
After squeazing a bunch of adults in a auditorium designed for kids, the MC named Rohit started the presentation. He was really entertaining and funny, so much so he reminded of Al Madrigal, a stand up comedian that was at Digital Summit Atlanta.
Rohit first told us how this will work:
- The nonprofit innovators have 3 minutes to pitch their ideas
- The judges have 3 minutes to ask questions
- The audience have 15 minutes to vote at the end of all pitches.
These were the judges for this year:
- Connie Certusi – Managing Director USA, Sage
- Linnea Geiss – VP of Global Strategy and Corporate Development, NCR Corporation
- Dan Graham – CEO, BuildASign.com and Founder, Notley
- Matt Granados – Founder, Local Vendors Coalition and LifePlanner
- Hala Moddelmog – CEO and President, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
- Joey Womack – Co-founder and CEO, Amplify 4 Good
— Linnea Geiss (@linneageiss) June 9, 2016
It was interesting to see a lot of the initiatives presented were related to issues that some Atlanta residents face based on their color, race or location in the Metro area:
Community farmers markets: With their Fresh MARTA Market, this nonprofit wants to give access to fresh produce in MARTA stations to people who don’t usually have it. The 2015 program pilot was a collaboration between MARTA, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, SWAG (the South West Atlanta Growers Cooperative), and Community Farmers Markets and offered commuters the opportunity to shop for fresh produce on their way home.
Moving in the spirit: Moving in the Spirit is a nationally-recognized youth development program that uses the art of dance to positively transform the lives of children and teens in Atlanta, Georgia. Through programs that integrate high-quality dance instruction with performance, leadership and mentor opportunities, Moving in the Spirit impacts over 200 children and teens annually, encouraging them to overcome the obstacles they face each day and realize their highest potential.
During the event, Heather Infantry presented a project to start manufacturing leotards (tights) that would fit all ballet dancers based on their skin tone or body shape. According to Heather, there’s a market for people who do not fit the standard “white skinny teenager” (my words, not hers) that one would usually picture as a ballet dancer.
Next Generation Men: Next Generation Men is an organization built by real teachers dedicated to inspiring young men of color to success through professional exposure, leadership development, community service, and ongoing support. Ian Cohen, one of the founder, was a very engaging speaker and seems to have a solid background. He also used the Philanthopitch platform to announce the launch of Next Generation.
Scholarship Academy: The Scholarship Academy (TSA) is a comprehensive scholarship preparatory program that teaches low-income, first generation college students to navigate the maze of financial aid in order to fund their college education.
I think this is the project that’s most likely to scale and have a bigger impact, but I was not a big fan of the website portal presented.
I believe college education is still a reality, and being successful in the corporate world without a college degree is almost impossible. On the other hand, the makers movemement represented by Steam truck could have a great impact too. It can touch kids earlier in their life and teach them how to have an entrepreneurial mind rather than getting a college degree just because they have to, not because they’re interested in it.
To me, that’s the limit to college. Most of the time it ends up being a piece of paper, or something that looks good on a resume. Unfortunately, what is taught in class is often not practical enough for the fast-paced economy we live in, and turns out to be outdated by the time you get your first job.
— Philanthropitch (@pitch4good) May 29, 2016
That’s why I decided to vote for STE(A)M Truck™, a mobile innovation lab that inspires youth to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math by bringing tools, equipment and experts directly to students. Being a big fan of the makers movement and 3D printers, that’s something I wish I would have had as a child. I also love the fact that this program is practical and can touch kids with different backgrounds.
Now that you know why I voted for them, let me tell you why I didn’t vote for the two other companies I haven’t mentioned yet:
re:imagine/ATL: re:imagine/ATL is a non-profit organization that equips youth from all backgrounds to share their stories through multimedia production. They activate youth through project-based learning to positively impact their community. Their mission is really innovative, but one judge brought something that is also true for nonprofits: How do you scale? The presenter had a hard time answering.
GCAPP: GCAPP’s mission is to improve the overall health and well-being of young people in Georgia to ensure a more powerful future for us all. Sounds pretty cool right? But then I heard CEO Kim Nolte talking about how pornography destroys young boys’ lives and so on… Her pitch made a lot of people in the audience uncomfortable. The angle chosen was awkward. On top of that, the website they are trying to develop to better inform parents and kids was so outdated it made me cringe. I’m not sure this will help move the discussion to go beyond the “birds and bees talk”.
STE(A)M Truck: $6,000 from E/O Atlanta’s grant, and $6,500 from the audience choice award
Next Generation Men: $6,500 from the audience choice award, and $10,000 form the Sage Foundation
Community farmers markets: $13,500 from the audience choice award
GCAPP: $2,000 from the audience choice award
Moving in the spirit: $2,000 from the audience choice award
re:imagine/ATL: $4,000 from the audience choice award
Scholarship Academy: Overall winner of the audience choice award, and I can’t remember the amount granted… Anyone?
Together, we packed the house and granted $61,500 to seven organizations serving Metro Atlanta. Philanthropitch was blown away by the turnout and support of the Atlanta community.
After the event: Takeaways
Participating to this event made me feel like I was impacting the community in a positive way. I realized there’s a lot of ways any of us can be involved in that ype of organization to change things for the best.
If you read something that inspired you to get involved, I encourage you to connect with the presenters:
- Community Farmers Markets – Katie Hayes (firstname.lastname@example.org )
- GCAPP – Kim Nolte (Kim@gcapp.org)
- Moving in the Spirit – Heather Infantry (Heather@movinginthespirit.org)
- Next Generation Men – Ian Cohen (email@example.com)
- re:imagine/ATL – Susanna Spiccia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Scholarship Academy – Jessica Johnson (email@example.com )
- STEAM Truck – Jason Martin (firstname.lastname@example.org)