Freshly Cut

Social Venture Partners and Sold Out Audience Select Winners of $45,000 Prize Pool at the 2nd Annual SEED20 Competition

CHARLOTTE, NCSocial Venture Partners (SVP) announced last night the winners of the second annual SEED20, a competition for nonprofit entrepreneurs. The 10 finalists in the competition pitched their ideas in three minutes or less to a six-judge panel and to a sold-out audience of more than 450 business, nonprofit, and civic leaders. Following comments and evaluation by the judges and a vote by the audience, the winners were announced. Five cash prizes were awarded – totaling $45,000 – as follows:

  • SEED20 Grand Prize (voted on by judging panel) of $20,000: Community Culinary School of Charlotte
  • SEED20 2nd Place (voted on by judging panel) of $10,000: Speak Up Magazine
  • SEED20 3rd Place (voted on by judging panel) of $7,500: My 1st Suit
  • Coaches’ Award (voted on by SEED20 coaches) of $5,000: Community Culinary School of Charlotte
  • People’s Choice (“text to vote” by the audience) of $2,500: Neet’s Sweets


The 2013 SEED20 judging panel includes:

  • Mike Collins, Principal, Collins, Haynes & Lully Advertising, Host of Charlotte Talks
  • Mike Elliott, Managing Partner, Noro-Moseley Partners
  • Carol Hardison, CEO, Crisis Assistance Ministry
  • Landra Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, CARA B Naturally
  • Julie Jones, Founder, Grub to Grub—last year’s SEED20 winner
  • Paul Wetenhall, President, Ventureprise.


Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC) helps unemployed adults achieve success in their careers and personal lives through its training program, which combines culinary arts, job-readiness, and counseling. CCSC will use SEED20 funding to add a second BISTRO! Buggy food cart, which in turn will generate new revenue, create training and employment opportunities, and expand CCSC’s outreach.
Speak Up is Charlotte’s first and only nonprofit street magazine, offering an income opportunity, as well as a voice for the voiceless. Funding from SEED20 will be used to expand its infrastructure and launch new issues, which become microenterprises for our city’s vulnerably-housed and low-income people.
My 1st Suit serves young men who are first generation college students by providing them with resources and exposure to stimulate social wellness and high self-esteem. The investment from SEED20 will provide marketing and class materials, class space and finally, the custom suits and experiences necessary to transform these young men into progressive leaders.
Founded by a survivor of domestic sex trafficking, Neet’s Sweets helps other victims transition out of a life of sex trafficking by providing support, education, mentoring, and job opportunities. Funding will enable Neet’s Sweets to expand the breadth and scope of services provided.
Social Venture Partners announced it would give each of the 20 participants who did not win a cash award $500. Inspired by the pitches and innovation of the Class of 2013, an anonymous donor gave an additional $500 to each nonprofit. All told, $61,000 was awarded to SEED20 Class of 2013. One participant shared “As of tonight, I have my first investors! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my idea for social change with our community and have the community, in turn, respond in such tangible and meaningful ways.”
After the live pitches and awards, the diverse group of 450+ attendees celebrated the nonprofit entrepreneurs and networked and socialized with each other. Each of the twenty nonprofits represented in the SEED20 Class of 2013 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 a great opportunity for Charlotte.”
Mayor Anthony Foxx opened the evening with a welcome and congratulations to the SEED20 Class of 2013. “Entrepreneurs create jobs for our residents and come up with ideas that keep our economy on the cutting edge, which is why I’m committed to fostering an environment in Charlotte where they can thrive.  Social Venture Partners’ SEED20 competition does much to further that goal by helping aspiring social entrepreneurs turn their concepts into effective nonprofits—it’s exactly the kind of thing we need more of.  On behalf of the City of Charlotte, I’d like to congratulate all the participants in this year’s SEED20 competition and thank them for their efforts to create organizations that address social challenges in our region.”
While the judges deliberated, Inspire the Fire, one of last year’s SEED20 finalists, gave a moving performance that had the audience on its feet! Inspire the Fire provides youth, ages 10-21, the opportunity to participate in hands-on, interactive activities that promote self-exploration, life skills, artistic development, and community involvement.
“Real leadership and innovation was on display tonight,” said Susan Daniel, Executive Director of SVP. “We celebrate all of the SEED20 Class of 2013 and we hope that tonight’s success will strengthen the awareness and support for our region’s nonprofit entrepreneurs.”


SEED20 ( is made possible with the generous support of our investors—Knight Foundation, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, UNC Charlotte, Robinson Center for Civic Leadership, McGuire Woods, Pamlico Capital, and Piedmont Natural Gas.


SEED stands for Social Entrepreneurs EmpowereD, and the competition aligns with SVP’s mission by helping to grow the region’s social entrepreneur community. 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

Social Venture Partners (SVP) is a diverse network of engaged individuals who address community needs through a new model of giving – Venture Philanthropy. SVP leverages the collective expertise, creativity, time, and financial resources of our members and their networks to develop and support promising social initiatives and nonprofits. In addition, SVP fosters 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