CHARLOTTE, NC – Social Venture Partners Charlotte announced last night the winners of the inaugural SEED20, a nonprofit competition to discover, spotlight, and fund great socially innovative ideas. The 10 finalists in the competition pitched their ideas in three minutes or less to a five-judge panel and to an overflow audience of more than 350 business, nonprofit, and civic leaders. Following comments and evaluation by the judges and a vote by the audience, the winners were announced. Four grants were awarded – totaling $30,000 – as follows:
• Wells Fargo Grand Prize (voted on by judging panel) of $15,000: Grub to Grub
• Grand Prize Runner-Up (voted on by judging panel) of $7,500: Friendship Gardens
• Coaches’ Award (voted on by 43 SEED20 coaches) of $5,000: Grub to Grub
• People’s Choice (“text to vote” by the audience) of $2,500: Friendship Gardens
The 2012 SEED20 judging panel included:
• Molly Barker, Founder, Girls on the Run
• Mike Elliott, Managing Partner, Noro-Moseley Partners
• Beth Hardin, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs UNC Charlotte
• Dewey Norwood, Community Affairs Officer, Wells Fargo
• Mark Peres, Founder and President, Charlotte Viewpoint
Grub to Grub, the brainchild of second-grade teacher Julie Jones, will use her prize money to pilot a grub composting program that utilizes a bioconversion process which diverts food waste from our landfills, while producing protein rich chicken and fish feed for local farms. Friendship Gardens founder Henry Owen is using his winnings to help fund the development of a high density urban farm and learning center to supplement their existing network of 20 gardens throughout Mecklenburg County.
A highlight of the evening came after the awards were announced when lead investor, Wells Fargo – moved by the quality and passion of all 10 pitches – made a spur of the moment decision to give an additional $1,000 to each of the finalists. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that an anonymous donor from the crowd also was going to give $1,000 to each of the finalists who did not win an “official” award. All told, $48,000 was granted to the 10 finalists from the inaugural SEED20 Class of 2012.
After the live pitches and awards, the diverse group of 350+ attendees celebrated the social entrepreneurs and networked and socialized with each other. Each of the twenty nonprofits represented in the SEED20 Class of 2012 had a booth where all attendees could interact with them and learn more about their work in the community. “The energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable,” said one attendee. “This is one of the best things to happen in Charlotte in a long time.”
Mayor Anthony Foxx opened the evening with a welcome and congratulations to the SEED20 Class of 2012, Following the live pitches by the 10 SEED20 finalists, former Davidson College President and current President of The Heinz Endowments, Bobby Vagt, delivered a stirring keynote address on the vital role social entrepreneurs play in our world.
“Real leadership and innovation was on display tonight,” said Susan Daniel, Executive Director of SVP Charlotte. “We celebrate all our winners, our finalists, and all of the SEED20 Class of 2012, and we hope that tonight’s success will strengthen the platform for lifting up our region’s social entrepreneurs.”
SEED stands for Social Entrepreneurs Empowered, and the competition aligns with SVP Charlotte’s mission by helping to grow the region’s social entrepreneur community. SEED20 (www.seed20.org) was made possible with investors Wells Fargo, Knight Foundation, and UNC Charlotte as well as strategic marketing partner, Topics Education. The competition was open to any individual or nonprofit organization from Mecklenburg or bordering counties with a great idea and a passionate commitment to seeing it positively impact social change.
About Social Venture Partners Charlotte
Social Venture Partners Charlotte (SVP Charlotte) is a diverse network of engaged individuals who are addressing community needs through a new model of giving – Venture Philanthropy. SVP Charlotte brings the collective expertise, creativity, time and money of our members and their networks to develop and support promising social initiatives and nonprofits. In addition, SVP Charlotte strives to foster a community of socially-conscious and well-informed donors through engagement with Investees, collaboration with other SVP partners, and participation in educational events. To learn more, please visit www.svpcharlotte.org.