Semi-finalists announced for the Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Competition at WUSTL

Audience members could win $250 when they vote on the proposals in January.

The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis has announced the semi-finalists in the 2008 Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC). This year’s semi-finalists represent a range of proposals including of a group of college students with a plan to provide counseling and mentoring services for low-income students, to an established nonprofit with a proposal for a mixed-use small business incubator.

“We are pleased with the diversity of ideas in this year’s competition,” said Ken Harrington, Managing Director of the Skandalaris Center. “Several more student teams are involved than in past years, as well as teams from other universities, and teams working on international projects. We are looking forward to the Elevator Pitch presentations when the community will hear the contestants live.”

On January 17, 2008, the teams will give their elevator pitch to a group of judges from the community, who will select the finalists. That evening, the teams will repeat their pitches at an event open to the public, and audience members will have the chance to evaluate the teams based on the same criteria the judges will have used. After all pitches, the judges’ selections will be announced, and the audience member who matches the judges most closely will receive a $250 prize. The event will also include a reception for all so that audience members can interact and connect with the semi-finalists. Thirteen semi-finalists were selected: (* = student-founded or student-supported venture):

  • African Health Education Loan Program* facilitates interest-free educational loans or grants to train healthcare workers in Malawi.
  • A Better World Communications Company* provides a new approach to sustained teen involvement in social change through communication training.
  • BEGIN New Venture Center at St. Patrick Center, a community partnership of business incubation and training.
  • CHADS Coalition for Mental Health advances the prevention and awareness of adolescent suicide and depression;
  • College Connections Collaborative*, provides college counseling and mentoring services to low-income students.
  • EnTeam Games for Schools, aims to increase collaboration and cooperation and foster teamwork.
  • Habitat for Neighborhood Business develops retail and service business centers in economically distressed neighborhoods.
  • Indego Africa, seeks to alleviate poverty in Rwanda by expanding the employable skills of female artisans.
  • Lemay Child and Family Center, a childcare worker training and mentoring program;
  • LiveFeed*, provides a solution for collecting and donating food by working with the live music and entertainment scene;
  • National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), offers leadership training promoting interracial understanding and respect to healthcare workers.
  • StreamTeach*, proposes to build and operate a North St. Louis whitewater park as an engine of community revitalization and economic development.
  • StudioSTL*, empowers youth by helping them discover, develop, and celebrate their individual voices through writing.

This is the third annual SEIC organized by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, in partnership with the YouthBridge Association. The Incarnate Word Foundation returns as a sponsor for their third straight year, and this year the Lutheran Foundation has also joined as a sponsor. YouthBridge and the sponsors will all select winning teams which fit their particular mission. Over $120,000 will be awarded, including a $5,000 prize to the best student-founded or -supported venture.

For a complete description of the semi-finalists’ ideas or to register for the event on Jan. 17, visit