Six nonprofits win Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards

Pioneering groups collect total of $125,000

On May 3, the winners of the second annual Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) were announced at the Awards Ceremony on Washington University’s Danforth Campus. Six awards were presented to four local nonprofits and two students. The SEIC is designed to foster growth for social entrepreneurs who craft innovative processes, approaches and solutions to help resolve social issues. Leslie D. Michelson delivered the keynote address. Michelson is the founder, CEO, investor, adviser and director for a portfolio of entrepreneurial healthcare, technology and real-estate companies.

A total of $125,000 was awarded to the nonprofit teams, which successfully proved that their ventures have social value and that their group has the ability to implement its plans. This year’s winning teams were selected from a field of 24 entrants who had submitted their initial business proposals after attending a series of YouthBridge workshops that began in September. Over the past 10 months, the contestants participated in a series of open judging events and received feedback on their ideas.

This year’s winners are:

  • The Bridge St. Louis received the $30,000 YouthBridge Award. The Bridge offers a skateboard park and concert venue to Joplin, Mo. teens. The group also provides computer labs and field trips and other fee-based services. The Bridge has operated in Joplin for the past six years and will use its award to establish a similar facility in St. Louis.
  • One World Neighborhood Café received the $30,000 Incarnate Word Foundation Award. One World enhances the lives of socially marginalized women and their families by creating meaningful jobs that pay a living wage and provide benefits. One World also offers a variety of educational opportunities in the food-services industry to prepare women for success with future employers.
  • The Miriam Center won the $30,000 Deaconess Foundation Award to fund an expansion of programs offered by the Miriam School. The Center will address the difficulty that families face finding quality, centrally located and coordinated therapies and services for their children with learning disabilities. Using fee-based services, the Center will offer diagnostics, therapies, tutoring, enrichment programs and educational consulting.
  • The Nest received the $25,000 Skandalaris Award. The Nest helps women in developing countries create sustainable income for their families by providing micro-credit loans for the creation or maintenance of art-based businesses. To fund these loans, Nest has partnered with over 45 designers from six countries to create an exclusive line of merchandise. The product line is sold to boutiques and is available via the Nest online marketplace.

Two students received a $5,000 award. The first recipient, MOAR for Life-South Grand Senior Ministry Social Venture, was founded by a member of the St. Louis community and is supported by Joy Clarke, MSW 2007. MOAR for Life helps senior citizens live safely in their homes while leading physically and spiritually active lives. The other student winner, Cents City, was founded by student Felix Lloyd. Cents City is an online virtual environment that develops young peoples’ skills in math, reading and other subjects while building their capacity to become financially savvy adults.

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, and last year announced its inaugural grants. The Deaconess Foundation and the Incarnate Word Foundation also sponsor the competition.

For more information contact Shula Neuman (314) 935-5202.