YouthBridge SEIC finalists named

Nine finalists were selected Jan. 26 to compete for more than $125,000 in grants in April at the 2011-12 YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC) at Washington University in St. Louis. The competition is a joint partnership between the YouthBridge Community Foundation and WUSTL’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The finalists, culled from a field of 15 semifinalists, were chosen by a panel of judges after presenting their social enterprise idea in an “elevator pitch” competition.

A total of 37 competitors entered this year’s contest.

“The judges and I are very pleased with the creativity of our entrepreneurs in addressing social problems,” says Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. “With the work the Brown School is doing on social entrepreneurship curriculum for graduate and undergraduate students, we are enthusiastic about opportunities to find solutions while being financially sustainable and adding significant social value.”

The finalists will present completed business plans and oral presentations to the judges privately in April, with the awards announced April 11 in Simon Hall’s May Auditorium.

They are (* indicates a team founded by students. Other teams may have students on them):

  • Cherokee Street International Farmers Market, providing low-income residents with nutritious produce and encouraging at-risk youth and immigrant refugees to grow and sell food at the farmers market;
  • Club KidFit, providing child-directed wellness curriculum through fun fitness programs;
  • Dahlia, providing education to school health-care professionals, coaches and counselors about eating disorders to increase early intervention, family support and positive dialogue about a healthy body image;
  • Explore Transplant, providing an educational program for dialysis providers on how to educate kidney transplant patients;
  • Fostering Life, providing resources for teenage girls in foster care who are pregnant;
  • Metamo4ic Math Center, motivating and educating St. Louis children to learn and enjoy mathematics through a children’s museum;
  • * Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project, combining legal representation, social services and community development to promote the voice and human dignity of immigrant communities;
  • One Bright Day Vending Coffee Service, servicing soda and snack machines to provide healthy options along with traditional inventory; and
  • Sweet Sensation, teaching North St. Louis teens about entrepreneurship and sustainable living through apiculture, or beekeeping.

Awards for the 2011-12 competition will be granted from the following partner and community sponsors.

  • YouthBridge Community Foundation: $35,000 to fund a venture serving children and youth;
  • Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis: $30,000 to fund an organization promoting a healthier community;
  • Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis: Up to $30,000 to fund an organization serving the poor and vulnerable; and
  • Skandalaris Center: $25,000 to fund a venture with an innovation solution to effect social change.

With a $5,000 award to the best student team and in-kind support from Skandalaris sponsors, the total amount awarded will be more than $125,000.

In June 2005, YouthBridge and the Skandalaris Center each pledged $500,000 to fund a five-year initiative to develop a program to stimulate social entrepreneurship. The program, then called the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition, was an opportunity for nonprofits to learn business skills, collaborate, receive feedback and compete annually for more than $100,000 in awards.

In August 2009, YouthBridge renewed its partnership with the Skandalaris Center and pledged to fund the annual YouthBridge SEIC on an ongoing basis.

The YouthBridge SEIC is unique in St. Louis and, in terms of monetary awards, is one of the largest competitions of its kind in the United States.

Since its inception in 2005, the competition has awarded more than $732,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to 28 social ventures, including an annual $5,000 prize to the best student-founded or supported team.

Additional sponsors of the Skandalaris Center are the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association, St. Louis Commerce Magazine, RubinBrown LLP, Polsinelli Shughart PC and Lopata Flegel & Company LLP.