Winners of St. Louis’ first-ever social entrepreneurship business competition to be announced

More than $100,000 in awards distributed to help region's social issues


On Wednesday, May 10, the winners of the inaugural Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) will be announced at a special awards ceremony held on Washington University’s campus.

The competition is designed to foster growth for social entrepreneurs who craft innovative processes, approaches, and solutions to help resolve social issues. Over $100,000 is available to winners under a variety of categories.

The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the YouthBridge Association partnered to create the SEIC, which was launched in September, 2005. Since then the partnership has hosted a series of workshops and networking events for the participants. The Incarnate Word Foundation has recently joined the Skandalaris Center and YouthBridge as the competition’s first sponsor.

In addition to announcing the winners on May 10, the agenda for the evening will include a panel discussion of “Community Perspectives on Social Entrepreneurship” featuring Dean Mahendra Gupta of the John M. Olin School of Business and Dean Edward F. Lawlor of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, in addition to panelists representing foundations and practitioners in the community.

This year’s winners are:

  • $35,000 YouthBridge Award to Boomerang Press – an ArtWorks Enterprise, which will sell products such as note cards and calendars designed by at-risk teenage apprentices to artists.
  • $30,000 Incarnate Word Award to The REAP Training Institute which trains domestic violence advocates with the knowledge and skills needed to increase the economic empowerment of women experiencing intimate partner violence.
  • $25,000 Skandalaris Center Award to Meds & Food for Kids, which produces and distributes an innovative, nutrient-rich peanut butter paste, called Ready-to Use Therapeutic Food, for children dying of malnutrition in Haiti. (WUSTL student involved)
  • Additionally, the competition will award a total of $15,000 to teams which were founded by or supported by Washington University students. Both the REAP Training Institute and Meds & Food for Kids will receive an additional $5,000, and the third award will go to the Panda Athletic Gym, a full service gym teaching boxing to underprivileged, at-risk teens. The gym will also provide mentoring and tutoring.

“This year’s results and the involvement of the community and our students have far exceeded our hopes for the first year,” said Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University. “We’re excited about the foundation we’re building with YouthBridge and others to create an environment for innovation in the social sector. We look forward to next year’s competition and the opportunity to support the social entrepreneurship community in St. Louis.”

The Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) is the first of its kind in the region. Competitors begin by entering their idea on, and in the last several weeks have submitted an executive summary, delivered an elevator pitch, and completed a sustainability plan for their venture. As the semifinalists, finalists, and now winners have been selected, they’ve received feedback from an expert panel of judges including academics, practitioners, investors, foundations, and service providers.

The Skandalaris Center stimulates a campus-wide environment of collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurial creativity. This expands learning, understanding and economic opportunities for students, faculty and the St. Louis community. The Center supports entrepreneurship in all academic disciplines and defines it as “the process of seeing novel opportunities, acting energetically, and using limited resources and collaboration to create new value for others.”

The YouthBridge Association is a 135-year-old organization that was previously known as the General Protestant Children’s Home. YouthBridge’s mission evolved to fund and support multiple innovative youth-focused social ventures, some of them located on its 19-acre Creve Coeur campus. YouthBridge has supported and funded ventures designed to operate as independent entities following the association’s initial support. YouthBridge’s goal is to support more ventures that can benefit from the organization’s initial support and then grow into self-sufficient entities.

The Incarnate Word Foundation, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word–San Antonio, is a charitable foundation that partners with agencies and others to address the needs of the poor, especially women, children, and seniors. Since its founding in 1997, the foundation has given more than $9 million in grants to support this mission.