YouthBridge SEIC winners impress judges with social venture ideas

Winners of the seventh annual YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC) were announced April 11.

Winning teams represented community and WUSTL social entrepreneurs, including students, alumni and faculty. Their social venture ideas ranged from teaching teens about entrepreneurship through beekeeping to providing education to kidney transplant patients.

Ken Harrington (right), managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, chats with Phil Minden, part of the Sweet Sensation group that was awarded the $35,000 YouthBridge Community Foundation award during the YouthBridge SEIC awards ceremony April 11 in Simon Hall. (Credit: Kevin Lowder)

“Our donors and judges were impressed with the quality of the plans and the passion of the entrepreneurs,” says Ken Harrington, managing director of the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, sponsor of the competition.

“This is the seventh year for the competition, and past competitors generously lent their time and expertise to our teams this year,” Harrington says. “The support system for social entrepreneurs for mentoring, funding and services has grown tremendously in the community.

“With the Brown School offering a new specialization in social entrepreneurship our students will have even more opportunities in this area.”

Harrington announced the following awards, selected from a pool of seven finalists:

  • The YouthBridge Community Foundation award of $35,000 to Sweet Sensation, which teaches North St. Louis teens about entrepreneurship and sustainability through beekeeping. Team members include Phil Minden (MBA, 2011), Leon Threat (MSW, 1997) and Ernecia Coles (MSW, ’96).
  • Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis award of $30,000 to the Migrant Immigrant and Community Action (MICA) Project, which combines legal representation, social services and community development to promote the voice and human dignity of immigrant communities. Team founders include Jessica Mayo (JD, 2012) and Nicole Cortés (JD and MSW, ’12).
  • The Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis award of $25,000 to the Dahlia Partnership, which provides 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. Kimberli McCallum, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, is a founding board member of Dahlia.
  • The Skandalaris Award of $25,000 to Explore Transplant, which provides an educational program for dialysis providers on how to educate kidney transplant patients. Explore Transplant was founded by Amy Waterman, PhD, associate professor of medicine and a social psychologist at the medical school.
  • Mayo and Cortés of MICA also won the $5,000 student award.

In addition, St. Louis law firm and Skandalaris sponsor Polsinelli Shughart PC will provide up to three $3,000 prizes of in-kind legal services to teams in this year’s competition.

The YouthBridge SEIC was started in 2005 as a partnership between the Skandalaris Center and the YouthBridge Community Foundation. Since its inception, the competition has awarded more than $850,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to 32 social ventures, including an annual $5,000 student prize. More than 85 percent of ventures that have won awards still are operating.

The YouthBridge Community Foundation partners with donors to help charities, especially those focused on children, become financially sound through leadership, grants and donors services.

The Skandalaris Center is a cross-campus and community-wide initiative serving students in all schools and degree programs at the university and the St. Louis region. Sponsors of the Skandalaris Center include the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association, St. Louis Commerce Magazine, RubinBrown LLP, Polsinelli Shughart PC and Lopata Flegel & Company LLP.