SEED20 opened so many doors for us and continues to affect our work to this day.Sil Ganzo, Founder of ourBRIDGE, SEED20 Class of 2014

From startups to well-established nonprofits with a new program, all are welcome to apply to SEED20 – our region’s #1 program for fostering innovative ideas to tackle pressing social challenges. While there is a significant prize pool, SEED20 brings value far beyond the monetary awards. The program offers expert coaching, networking, exposure, marketing, and an alumni program to continue the SEED20 experience well after the competition ends. Everyone involved in SEED20 is a winner!

Important Dates
9/17/19 Application period opens
10/2/19 Application Process Overview and Q&A Webinar (7:30 pm)
10/17/19 Application Process Overview and Q&A Webinar (9:30 am)
10/31/19 All applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm
12/2/19 SEED20 Class of 2020 is notified
12/6/19 Marketing Preparation Webinar for Class of 2020 (9:00 am) required
1/9/20 Class of 2020 “Toast to the 20” required (evening event)
1/12/20 Photo and video shoot required (9:00 am-3:30 pm; Participants will sign up for a 2 hour window)
1/21/20 Pitch Workshop and Orientation Session required (evening event).
2/4/20 1st Coaching session required (evening event).
2/18/20 2nd Coaching session required (evening event).
3/10/20 Final Coaching session and selection round required (evening event).
3/12/20 Finalists notified
3/24/20 Dress Rehearsal required for finalists (evening event).
3/31/20 SEED20 OnStage required for all participants


If you are interested in applying to SEED20, please take a few minutes and review these FAQs.

Who can apply?

Whether an individual or start up with a well-formed idea, an emerging nonprofit, or a well-established nonprofit with a new program, SEED20 applicants should:

  • have a vision for tackling pressing social challenges and be committed to building or leveraging strong, sustainable organizations to achieve that vision
  • be innovative and resourceful.

Anyone in the broader Charlotte region with a passionate commitment to deliver breakthrough social impact can apply. Your main focus must be to have a significant impact in the region. If improving our community is part of your life’s journey, we’re here to help you realize your mission. We are looking for people and organizations with great ideas!

Additional Notes:

  • There are no restrictions based on size, budget, or age of the idea/program/organization; however, participants must have 501(c)(3) status or obtain a fiscal agent to receive any awards. If 501(c)(3) status is not applied for within 12 months of SEED20 OnStage, any awards will be forfeited.
  • Applicants may employ revenue-generating strategies for some or all of their income.
  • Organizations previously selected for SEED20 are not eligible to apply.
  • Participants must be individuals and are expected to fully engage in the program and be open to advice and coaching by business and community leaders. Multiple people cannot participate on behalf of an idea/program/organization.
  • There is no cost to participate in the program.

Why should I apply?

If you are serious about pursuing a great idea and growing or leveraging an organization that builds social value, you will want to be a part of our SEED20 community. If you are accepted, the worst-case scenario is that you will acquire professional marketing assets and experience great networking opportunities, excellent coaching on your positioning and pitches, a better understanding of the rich social nonprofit landscape that already exists in our region, and the opportunity to participate in our vibrant Alumni community. The best-case scenario is that you get all of that, plus you get to present at SEED20 OnStage, win a cash award, accolades, and tons of free publicity. In short, given the exposure and experience, everyone involved with SEED20 comes out a winner!

How do I apply?

Click APPLY to view and complete the SEED20 application. Read carefully through all the information on this website and the online application when it is available. Be sure to check that the Important Dates work with your schedule. Submit your application online before the deadline. All applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee from Social Venture Partners. Based on the applications and possible follow-up research, the Selection Committee will invite twenty applicants to participate.

How are applicants selected to participate?

Participants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for Sustainable Impact – Does this idea/program/organization address an important social issue? Is it already having or likely to have a significant long-term impact?
  • Innovation  – Is this approach or idea novel, unique, and entrepreneurial?

How might applicants benefit from this program?

Through the SEED20 program, the nonprofit participants have the opportunity to share their compelling work with the community and gain:

  • Valuable strategic advice and resources
  • Greater confidence and effectiveness when making pitches
  • Opportunities to cultivate long-term, cross-sector relationships with sponsors, businesses, other nonprofits, and community leaders
  • Access to new donors and funding opportunities
  • Exposure to a large audience, a strong social media community, and potential volunteers
  • Professional marketing and communications advice and assets (photos, videos and signs)
  • A succinct and compelling pitch
  • Membership into the SEED20 Alumni Network.

I am afraid of or don’t think I’m very good at public speaking. Should I apply?

Absolutely! SEED20 does not select participants based on their public speaking talent. Our program is designed to give every participant the support, encouragement, tools, and strategies to not only develop, but deliver a compelling three-minute pitch. Every year, we are blown away by the progress all of our participants make. Many who came in fearful, end up on the stage — sharing their stories with passion and confidence.

Do I need to have a pitch before the program starts?

No. All participants will receive an orientation to the SEED20 program, as well as a practical workshop on delivering an engaging three-minute pitch. Our coaching teams provide individualized support, encouragement, feedback, and strategies to help each participant develop an effective, compelling, and memorable pitch.

I’m concerned that SEED20 may take too much time away from my day to day work. Should I still apply?

Like all leadership development programs, SEED20 is a time commitment. Our program schedule is intentionally developed to give participants and their coaching teams ample time between sessions to incorporate feedback and practice, practice, practice! Is it worthwhile? Our alumni tell us that SEED20 is absolutely time well-spent—resulting in increased exposure, connections to new donations and volunteers, potential cash awards, and clarity of purpose.

I’m a social entrepreneur, but my idea would work best on a for-profit model. Can I compete in SEED20?

No. SEED20 is designed for nonprofit ideas/organizations. We know that great social entrepreneurs can also adopt for-profit or L3C models, but our competition is limited to nonprofit organizations to ensure that all of the ideas can be evaluated on a comparable basis.