A new generation of philanthropists dominates contest for nonprofit ventures

YouthBridge Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Competition awards $155,000

Creative solutions to improve life in St. Louis communities and beyond took center stage at the YouthBridge Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC) awards April 13 at Washington University in St. Louis. Winning ventures shared a total of $155,000 in cash grants.

The competition is organized by WUSTL’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in partnership with the YouthBridge Community Foundation with major grants from the Incarnate Word Foundation, the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis and the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis.

The 2010 competition winners are:

One Percent Foundation (OPF) received a total of $50,000 in grants with awards from the YouthBridge Foundation ($35,000), the Skandalaris Center ($10,000) and the student entrepreneur award ($5,000) to OPF co-founder and Olin MBA student Jonathan Kauffman.

OPF empowers young adults to become lifelong philanthropists by facilitating engaged, systematic, collective and values-driven giving and participation. OPF Partners pledge to donate at least one percent of their income to philanthropy each year. The foundation supports organizations in the five broad categories of education, the environment, health, international aid and poverty.

St. Louis Dancing Classrooms (SLDC) received the $30,000 Incarnate Word Foundation award. SLDC is a social development program aimed at empowering youth, teaching respectful interaction and promoting teamwork in St. Louis Metropolitan schools.

Using the New York-based program, portrayed in the documentary film Mad Hot Ballroom, as a model, SLDC is a 10-week in-school residency targeting 5th-grade classrooms. 

SLDC was founded by WUSTL alumni Arash Sabet and Lauren Wilmore.

Twice Blessed Resale Shop received the $30,000 Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis award and a $10,000 Skandalaris Award. Twice Blessed is a social enterprise of Our Lady’s Inn, a nonprofit organization that serves homeless pregnant women and their children.

The store serves as an employee-training program for clients, where they gain valuable work experience and an employer reference and earn store credits towards purchases.

City Greens Produce received the $30,000 Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis Award. City Greens aims to provide access to fresh, local and affordable produce, promote healthy living in the community, provide a space for neighbors to interact and support local Missouri farmers as part of the extended community.

City Greens Produce market is operated out of Catholic Charities Midtown Center, a social service agency serving low income families in the city of St. Louis.

Crafts By Youth members display the recycled paper beads made by Ugandan students that are turned into jewelry.

Crafts By Youth received a $5,000 Skandalaris Award. WUSTL sophomores Akhila Narla and Preethi Kembaiyan partnered with a Ugandan NGO in the summer of 2009 to find a way to economically empower disadvantaged rural youth, primarily young women ages 16-24. Crafts By Youth is the nonprofit started to sell the environmentally friendly recycled paper bead jewelry produced through the income-generating program.

Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center, praised all of the participants in the seven month-long competition, which includes business education workshops, networking and mentoring to guide entrepreneurs through the process of creating a sustainable business plan.

“The entrepreneurs in this year’s competition were among the most energetic and enthusiastic we have seen in the five years of the Youthbridge SEIC,” said Rex Reed, executive director for agency services at YouthBridge.

Both Reed and Harrington said that the strong student participation bodes well for the future of community-based ventures and philanthropy in general.

To enter the 2011 YouthBridge SEIC, post an idea on ideabounce.com.

The Skandalaris Center will offer events and seminars throughout the summer and fall for entrepreneurs to connect with the resources needed to develop entrepreneurial skills and individual ideas.