Social entrepreneurs vie for $150,000 — largest award pool for non-profit ventures in U.S.

SEIC winners to be named April 23 at Washington University in St. Louis

Nationally-recognized social entrepreneur Bill Strickland will be the featured guest at Washington University in St. Louis when the winners of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) are announced April 23, 2009. Five finalists are vying for $150,000 — the largest social entrepreneurship award pool in the U.S. — in the competition, which is sponsored by founding partners Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the YouthBridge Community Foundation.

The SEIC was inaugurated in 2005 to stimulate activity leading to innovative approaches to the area’s social problems.

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.”

The finalists in the 2009 Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition are:

• Fathers Support Center Legal Clinic

Affordable, certified paralegal services to non-custodial fathers

• Missouri Women In Trades

Promotes the professional and personal empowerment of women through careers in the construction trades

• Rupununi Learners

Promotes literacy in the remote Rupununi region of Guyana by delivering books to 10,000 students

• The Exchange

Resale shop of the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition targeting teens and young adults

• Urban Studio Café

A social venture of the Urban Studio which uses the creative process for youth development and community building

The Awards Ceremony will be held in May Auditorium in Simon Hall on Washington University’s Danforth Campus at 5p.m., April 23. It will feature a panel discussion with community and student entrepreneurs asking questions of Bill Strickland related to social entrepreneurship, its relevance in today’s economy, his successes and how they are being replicated nationwide.

Bill Strickland is the President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG), and Bidwell Training Center (BTC). The programs offered by Manchester Bidwell on the north side of Pittsburgh 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.

After the program in Simon Hall and the announcement of winners in the 2009 Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition, there will be a public reception featuring poster boards 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.