The largest award pool for social entrepreneurship in the U.S. was split five ways on April 23, 2009 when winners of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) were announced at Washington University in St. Louis. The five finalists were chosen from an original field of 42 entrants and represent diverse ventures with missions to provide educational, cultural and vocational training.
Ken Harrington, director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at WUSTL announced the winners:
• Fathers Support Center Legal Clinic provides affordable, certified paralegal services to non-custodial fathers, received the $30,000 Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis Award
• Missouri Women In Trades promotes the professional and personal empowerment of women through careers in the construction trades, received the $25,000 Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis award
• Rupununi Learners promotes literacy in the remote Rupununi region of Guyana by delivering books to 10,000 students, received the $25,000 Skandalaris Foundation award
• The Exchange a proposed resale shop of the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition targeting teens and young adults, received $35,000 from the YouthBridge Community Foundation
• Urban Studio Café a social venture of the Urban Studio which uses the creative process for youth development and community building, received the $30,000 Deaconess Foundation award. WUSTL student Claire Wolff MSW ’09, received the $5,000 student award for her work with the Urban Studio Café
The SEIC was inaugurated in 2005 to stimulate activity leading to innovative approaches to the area’s social problems. Founding partners of the competition include WUSTL’s Skandalaris and the YouthBridge Community Foundation.
The 42 entrants in this year’s competition are more than double the number from last year, according to Ken Harrington, director of the Skandalaris Center. “The free YouthBridge Workshops have really helped the teams produce great work. The entire process is impacting social entrepreneurship activity in the St Louis region. Successful social enterprises increase our regional economy’s productivity by adding jobs while reducing the government’s cost.”
Support for the SEIC is provided by the YouthBridge Community Foundation as well as the Incarnate Word Foundation, the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis and the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis, a new sponsor this year.