Nationally recognized social entrepreneur Bill Strickland will be the featured guest when the winners of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) are announced April 23.
Five finalists are vying for $150,000 in awards — the largest prize pool for nonprofit ventures in the United States. The goal of the competition, founded in 2005 by the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the YouthBridge Community Foundation, is to stimulate activity leading to innovative approaches to the area’s social problems.
The 42 entrants in this year’s competition were more than double the number from last year, said Ken Harrington, director of the Skandalaris Center.
“The free YouthBridge Workshops have really helped the teams produce great work,” Harrington said. “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.”
The finalists in the 2009 Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition are:
• Fathers Support Center Legal Clinic, which offers affordable, certified paralegal services to noncustodial fathers;
• Missouri Women In Trades, which promotes the professional and personal empowerment of women through careers in the construction trades;
• Rupununi Learners, which promotes literacy in the remote Rupununi region of Guyana by delivering books to 10,000 students;
• The Exchange, a resale shop of the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition targeting teens and young adults; and
• Urban Studio Cafe, a social venture of the Urban Studio that uses the creative process for youth development and community building.
Strickland is president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp. of Pittsburgh and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center.
The programs offered by Manchester Bidwell provide educational and cultural opportunities to students and adults within an organizational culture that successfully fosters innovation, creativity, responsibility and integrity. Strickland has been honored numerous times for his contributions to the arts and the community, including a MacArthur “Genius” award.
The awards ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in May Auditorium in Simon Hall. It will feature a panel discussion with community and student entrepreneurs asking questions of Strickland related to social entrepreneurship, its relevance in today’s economy, his successes and how they are being replicated nationwide.
After the program and announcement of winners, a public reception will be held in Simon Hall featuring posters from the five finalists.
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.