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Entrepreneurs : For Good

24 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All

Idea Foundry aims to bring awareness to the virtues of impact investing

It’s been tough to get investors to sit still for business ideas that also have a social or environmental mission, says Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, business manager for social enterprise at Idea Foundry, Inc., the nonprofit economic development agency in Oakland.
 
But a few years ago, Idea Foundry began to get more and more applicants whose business ideas had a social enterprise – a mission to do good. Idea Foundry thought that was great. “But when they present their story,” Muise-Kielkucki says of these prospective startups, “a lot of traditional investor-types kind of tune out."
 
“We need to attract a different type of investor,” she says. “There are very few impact investors in Pittsburgh.”
 
Idea Foundry is hoping to bring more awareness to the benefits of financing socially aware companies, known as impact investing. Their InterSector program, which coaches and gives early funds to such companies is taking applications for its third round of funding, due April 15. Partnering with Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, it is hosting a panel discussion with experienced impact investors from other cities and three local social entrepreneurs.
 
The April 8 lunch event at the Duquesne Club will feature Eric Weinberg, founder and CEO of Impact Capital Strategies, LLC, and Jacob Gray of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
 
Large global foundations have long attempted impact investing, but trying to get venture capitalists to go for such projects is the aim of this event. It will highlight the success other cities are seeing already.
 
“We want to get past some of the misconceptions about social enterprises,” says Muise-Kielkucki. “We are aiming to show that there is a strong business case” for it. Pittsburgh in particular, she concludes, “is ripe for this.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Idea Foundry

DATA award finalist AGLogic seeks to help kids communicate in a safe space

AGLogic’s latest creation – one of 75 finalists worldwide for the 2014 Design, Art and Technology Award (DATA) from Pittsburgh Technology Council – is being tested as a way to help avoid future tragedy.
 
According to C. Scott Gilbert, the company’s founder and director, a participant in a large youth group at a local megachurch had committed suicide without the child’s fellow youth-group members or the child’s parents understanding why, until private journals were discovered. The church wanted to create a way for its youth group members to reach out in a friendly environment with concerns and troubles, so that no one would suffer in silence in the future.
 
The church asked AGLogic to create a private social network whose members can invite future members, fostering a trust among participants.The solution was So Communique:The Responsive Social Network. It has a “safe zone” to ask anonymous questions –which will be answered anonymously.
 
Kids who use the network, which is still in beta, can ask questions about difficult issues, says Gilbert, and “trust the response because it came back from the trusted source” – members of the network designated to handle the queries. “For kids, it’s a non-threatening way for them to ask questions.”
 
The social network is getting close to launch, being tested in churches, coffeeshops, individual families and even a suicide prevention hotline. Once available, it will be free to nonprofits with 100 or fewer users, as well as to families of five or fewer.
 
“We are absolutely delighted” to be a DATA finalist, Gilbert adds. “That’s going to give us a chance to meet a lot of people, and we are in good company. The DATA is a big deal to us and we’re honored.”
 
One of many local and statewide finalists, AGLogic is headquartered in Brookville, 16 miles from Punxsutawney.  
 
Other local finalists include a Fred Rogers Company/Schell Games collaboration, Wing Ma’am, Eric Singer, Walking Thumbs, Smith Micro, BHiveLab, MARC USA, MarketSpace Communications, Red Privet LLC, Peerless design, inc:, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Lightwave International, Paul Zelevansky, Ecologic and Matthews International, as well as students from Chartiers Valley School District, Blackhawk High School, Fox Chapel School District, West Allegheny Entertainment Technology Academy, Carnegie Mellon University and Point Park University.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: C Scott Gilbert, AGLogic

Kids pitch their best biz ideas to Entrepreneuring Youth

Pittsburgh-area kids who want to start their own companies are getting an early boost from Entrepreneuring Youth this year,  The group's first business-pitching event was Saturday.
 
"We realized a few years ago that we needed to start earlier with kids … to help them think creatively about ideas they can pursue for a business opportunity," says Entrepreneuring Youth leader Jerry Cozewith. Today the group partners with two local charter schools (Urban Pathways and Manchester Academic) and two schools in Beaver County to guide 6th through 12th graders in underserved neighborhoods through realistic training on how to form and pitch business ideas.
 
This June, the group's kids will participate in the George W. Tippins Business Plan Competition, named after one of Pittsburgh's more successful businessmen. Saturday's pitch, before local businesspeople at Google headquarters in Bakery Square, was practice for the Tippins contest in June.
 
These same business people will be working as coaches of the kids over the next few months, teaching them how to identify markets and customers, how to set prices and other fundamentals.
 
Eighteen kids – half from middle schools, half from high schools – gave two-minute pitches for ideas ranging from party-planning services to bakeries. Last year's competitors pitched lines of cosmetics, a video service, clothing companies and more.
 
Learning to make a two-minute elevator pitch "is a prized skill," Cozewith says, which can help kids learn how to talk to other adults "to get a summer job or into the college of your choice." Still, he allows, talking in front of a roomful of strangers for two minutes is "an eternity to young kids." Some of the aspiring entrepreneurs will not yet have made a single product. "They're as much selling themselves as their ideas," he says.
 
"The parents are proud and even amazed at what their kids can do – the way they speak, the poise they have, the confidence that have."
 
This weekend's six winners received gift cards as seed capital to buy materials for their businesses.
 
"This is just an awful lot of fun for everybody," Cozewith says.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jerry Cozewith, Entrepreneuring Youth

Are you part of the creative economy?

Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) has teamed with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Toronto's Rotman School and Echo Strategies to collect data to paint a picture of all the jobs in the creative economy of this region.
 
The results will be reported at the 2014 Pittsburgh Creative Industries Summit on Feb. 19 at CMU's McConomy Auditorium in the University Center.
 
"We’re doing an assessment of the current state of where all the jobs are that actually have some [association] with the historic creative industries,” says Audrey Russo, head of the PTC. Manufacturing companies are now doing website design, which previously they had outsourced or hadn’t even done. “What we’re finding is we not only have more people in this space but it is cutting across traditional clusters,” from multinational corporations to small businesses. The findings set for release at the Summit will help the region understand and benchmark the creative economy.
 
“What does that mean in terms of skill set development, in terms of jobs?" Russo asks. "What does it mean for talent attraction and development? Those jobs exist in so many clusters. It’s not just technology, it’s tied to innovation. It’s tied to design. I’m excited because this is the first time we’ve had this different type of snapshot of our region.”
 
The people at Echo Strategies, which helped collect and analyze the data, "think there are indicators potentially that can give us a clear path on what our opportunities are … what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing," Russo concludes.
 
The study focuses on seven key sectors – design, communications, entertainment, fine art, data science, software and hardware, and creative industry support services – in eight counties: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Fayette, Westmoreland and Armstrong. The keynote speaker will be Kevin Stolarick, the Rotman research director whose work backed the ideas in Richard Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Audrey Russo, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Athena Award nominations kickoff with panel on advancing women's leadership

"We're really excited about leveraging the Athena Awards to elevate the discussion of women and leadership in our region," says Beth Marcello, chair of the event's host committee and director of women’s business development at PNC.
 
The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award, to be given on Sept. 30 this year, recognizes not only established women who are leaders, but through the ATHENA Young Professional Award honors an emerging leader age 35 or younger. While it's true that more American CEOS are female than ever, just 18 women – less than four percent – head Fortune 500 companies. So instead of simply calling for nominations, as Athena has done in the past, organizers are holding a special April 25 panel discussion and breakfast to kick off the nominating process this year, which ends June 28.
 
"Women in Leadership: The Male Point of View" features Robert Krizner (managing partner at KPMG), Daniel Roderick (president and CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company) and John Barbour (CEO, managing director and chairman of the board of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney). Tickets may be purchased for $25 here before April 22. The panel will be moderated by Bill Flanagan, Allegheny Conference executive vice president for corporate relations and host of "Our Region's Business" on WPXI.
 
"We wanted a strong diversity in terms of age and experience and men who have opinions and a story to share," says Marcello of the panelists. "These are all companies that are advancing women's leadership. These men are leaders in our community. Other leaders in the community in general value what they say." Thus, participants will have the chance for "a real program that explores women's leadership in our region, to talk about their perspectives, what their companies are doing and what their challenges are for our region."

To those who question why a male perspective is needed -- don't men always chime in, even if no one asks them? -- "hopefully we're going to get the views of the progressive men," Marcello says. "From a corporate perspective, women are only going to advance when men and women work together.
 
"We're trying to reach as many people as possible to stimulate the discussion and to get people thinking about the women in leadership in their companies who should be nominated for an Athena Award," she adds. "Hopefully the pool of our Athena nominees will really reflect the quality of who we have here."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Beth Marcello, The Greater Pittsburgh ATHENA Award

Youth philanthropists challenge youth entrepreneurs: start Hill District businesses

"There's a lot of negativity displayed in the media toward the Hill District youth, and I wanted to give Hill District youth a chance to be better than the stereotype," says 17-year-old Dynae Shaw, leader of a group of 12 high-school students who together form the first Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI).
 
YPI participants, ages 13-18, come from the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation’s School 2 Career Program and are looking for young entrepreneurs to support in the Hill, Uptown and West Oakland. The group raised $614 this summer and program co-sponsor McAuley Ministries, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, matched it 5 to 1.
 
"When I found out about the money I was really excited," says Shaw, a Garfield resident and senior at Pittsburgh Obama, "because I really wanted to help the Hill District. Youth should be decision makers. We wanted to make sure it was for bettering the Hill District, so we want little projects that can turn into something big." She envisions youth with artistic talent teaching classes in inexpensive or donated spaces, "or a lawn business to make the Hill District look more appealing," she says.
 
Grants of $500 or $1,000 will be given to applicants, who must attend a two-hour workshop on Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Hill House Association. The workshop, run by Hill-based UrbanInnovation21, will help hopefuls devise their business plans and learn to run a thriving business. Applications will be due on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. via the POISE Foundation.
 
YPI members spent the summer getting acquainted with the grant-making process and are learning now how to evaluate applicants' presentations.
 
"I hope that it will inspire other youth to stand up and follow their dreams," Shaw says about the YPI program. "This will give them not only the chance to do something they haven't been able to do without the money, but to tell them that people care about their community." Shaw hopes YPI will be done again in the future, and that perhaps it will expand to East Liberty and other neighborhoods.
 
"We're not looking at overnight change," she adds, "but we hope people will look at the businesses and say, 'I can do that.' We hope they will look for other grants or say they can volunteer in their community. We also hope to inspire other businesses and other foundations to give youth a chance."
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Dynae Shaw, Youth Philanthropy Initiative

With Oreo bonbons and skin creams, teen entrepreneurs head to New York contest

When Jesse and Joziah Council, then 11 and 12, first entered Biz Camp sponsored by Pittsburgh's Entrepreneuring Youth group, EY's Cathy Blanchard remembers their motivation:
 
"The only reason they went to the first camp was that they were going to get paid," she says.
 
"And then the entrepreneurial spirit latched onto us," says Jesse, laughing. After three years of camp -- and that initial camp investment of $50 in materials to help the Council brothers with their idea of making a soothing skin cream for arthritis sufferers -- the brothers are winners. Their idea, which has now morphed into a line of all-natural products, won them first place in the local Youth Entrepreneur Regional Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Tippins Foundation. They and second-place winner Lisa Huff, 15, will journey to New York City to compete for a $25,000 prize in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's 2012 national competition in October. Last year's Tippins winner made it to the semi-final round.
 
So how do teens turn into entrepreneurs?
 
Jesse and Joziah's great-uncle was their first inspiration. He had arthritis and was searching for a natural way to relieve the pain. The brothers took training from a local herbalist to make their skin cream. They even made their own commercial, starring themselves with local actors.
 
"When they see an African-American running a business, educated, believing in ourselves and our future," says Joziah about his fellow Beaver Area High School students, "it actually gets
them excited and wanting to do something with their lives as well."
 
The first product the brothers hope to manufacturer is an all-natural germ-killing room spray from mint, rose and other essential oils. "Mass production is one of the feats we have to accomplish," cautions Joziah.

Empowering Youth teaches kids the rudiments of entrepreneurship at the Biz Camp cosponsored by the Franklin Center of Beaver County in Aliquippa. However, says Jesse, "their goal isn't to teach you how to make a business and get it running but so you'll have that mindset."
 
The entrepreneurial mindset has also captured Lisa Huff, a Christian Hope Academy student in Aliquippa whose Decadent Delight business involves cooking up Oreo Bonbons (Oreos and cream cheese dipped in white chocolate). Hers will be a catering business, although she has had success selling small packages of Bonbons at the mall.
 
Entrepreneuring Youth, she says, " has definitely given me people skills and marketing skills," helping her gain confidence after preparing numerous business presentations and participating in other business-plan competitions.
 
"I have big hopes for Decadent Delights," she says. "In New York, we will knock it out of the park and beat Jesse and Joziah." Plus, she adds, "Who doesn't like to eat sweets?"
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Jesse and Joziah Council; Lisa Huff; Cathy Blanchard, Entrepreneuring Youth

ATHENA winners named--see video of them here

If the nearly 900 attendees at the annual ATHENA luncheon this past Monday were looking for inspiration and role models, they came to the right place.

M.J.Tocci, a principal at Trial Run, was announced as the 2011 ATHENA recipient. "She empowers women to ask for and achieve what is rightfully due to them. She is a great example to all of us," Rebecca Harris of Chatham College who nominated her.

Jennifer Cairns was announced as the recipient of the Young Professional award. The second women to become partner at her firm, McGuire Woods, she is also a member of the Pittsburgh Passion football team, and, like M.J., a mentor who is highly involved in the community. Get acquainted with both these inspiring women in these video profiles.

To see a video profile of MJ Tocci, click here. To see Jennifer Cairns' video, click here.

Source: Rebecca Harris, director, Director, Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University

Young Pros rise to Athena Awards this year -- but only if you nominate them

And you thought award season was over with the Oscars.

The Athena Awards are searching for nominees by June 29 in a new category this year -- Young Professionals -- as well as its traditional women's leadership prize.

Not that there is a huge tradition yet. But in a mere 13 years of the Athena, organizers have seen women from the business world finally balance nominees from the nonprofit sector, reports Sara Gaal, events and communications services manager for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

"Prior to the Athena Award," says Barbara McNees, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, "there was not a recognition in the community of successful professional women, active in their community and committed to mentoring other women. Because our focus is not solely on a woman's professional success, we are fortunate to have a more well-rounded and varied group of nominees."

More than 40 were nominated for the Athena last year. The new award for rising young pros comes with $1,000 for a conference or educational course. The hope, says Maris Ann Bondi, chair of the ATHENA Awards Program Pittsburgh, is that this early recognition will "encourage young professionals, as they balance work/life issues, to continue on a path of leadership, community involvement and professional development while setting a role model for others."

Pop City is pleased to be an Athena Award sponsor this year.

Do Good:

• Send recognition someone's way -- nominate her for an Athena Award here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Sara Gaal, Allegheny Conference on Community Development


Art Out of the Box should put you on the edge of your seat -- but you'll be standing

Samantha McDonough emerged from art school realizing that the creative process was entirely too hidden from public view.

"It's just a very solitary practice, spending hours and hours making this thing," she says. "Nobody ever sees all the work. It seems like it's just magical, and it appears out of nowhere."

So McDonough created Art Out of the Box's Mobile Studio Project: "mini-residencies" that let artists create a new work and answer questions in public places for a week each this summer, about eight hours a day, starting May 3. It's half art, half performance, and all part of her plan to make art more accessible.

First up among the five in the Project's initial group is glass artist Jessica Amarnek at the Glass Lofts (5491 Penn Ave.) now through May 8. She is followed by installation/assemblage artist Alberto Almarza at 12th and Carson streets in the South Side, June 14-19; sculptor Will Schlough, June 28-July 3, at Lawrenceville's Wild Card (4209 Butler Street); mixed-media printmaker Deanna Mance at 3060 Brereton Street, Polish Hill, July 12-17; and visual artist Ian Green, Aug. 2-7 in the North Side's Commons Park.

All the artists' work will be featured in an exhibit during the next Downtown Gallery Crawl, and a documentary on the Mobile Studio Project is planned as well. Sponsors include the Sprout Fund and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts.

Do Good:

• Support this fledgling movement by donating here.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Samantha McDonough, Art Out of the Box
Image courtesy of Samantha McDonough, Art Out of the Box


Roommate matching, symbolically tasty ale, ski-jump help -- all Big Idea winners at Pitt

Is there anywhere else besides Pittsburgh where a team of professional ballet dancers could win a business development contest? Or where another group, calling themselves Hot Metal Brewing, could earn a trophy for beer recipes "symbolic of Western Pennsylvania history?"

It's all part of the 3rd annual Randall Family Big Idea Competition, where Pitt students in all sorts of disciplines competed on April 8 for $20,000 in prize money and the impetus to take their business concept and run.

Justin Mares, first-place winner in the Business Growth Idea category, developed RoommateFit, new software that pairs incoming freshmen using a personality test. Mares has already contracted with several universities who will use his invention this fall.

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers Aaron Ingley and Julia Erickson have formed Barre to make and market food bars aimed at dance-related studios, using raw ingredients. They've already scoring distribution deals around the country.

Other winning ideas included a "Personal Electric Vehicle"; improved village water systems in developing countries; and eFinger, which measures your hands' "posture" at the computer keyboard. The Safe-Jump System for skiing is still in its infancy.

"For some of these students, this is where they're generating money to pay for college," or are earning money to fuel the next idea and company, says Michael Lehman, director of student entrepreneurship at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence in Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. Lehman leads a student team each September to start the competition with workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions.

Many entrants came from the school -- and there were 199 this year, way up from the 84 hopefuls in its first year -- but others hailed from engineering and medical labs, or other non-business areas.

"These ideas are not just for new products and new services," Lehman says, "but to grow businesses bigger that Pittsburgh while still keeping their headquarters here."

Do Good:

• Check out links to the current winners here and past winners here and here.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Michael Lehman, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, University of Pittsburgh
Image courtesy of Michael Lehman, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, University of Pittsburgh

Carnegie Science Award winners blast off on another mission to inspire

John Tucker is the Business Groups President of a $2.5 billion company, Kennametal, that's about to launch an innovative new tooling and coolant product called Beyond Blast on March 1. It took three years to develop, both at company HQ in Latrobe and in India and Europe. Yet he seemed most pumped up about winning a Carnegie Science Award for the product.

"For Kennametal, it was quite an accomplishment," Tucker said before the announcement of Kennametal's Advanced Manufacturing Award at the Center on Feb. 3. "Here in our hometown, to be recognized by the Carnegie Science Center, is an extra-special recognition."

Other awards went to educators and scientists at many levels, including John Pollock of Duquesne University (Special Recognition in Science Education Award), Thad Zaleskiewicz of the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg (University/Post-Secondary Educator Award) and Sara Majetich of Carnegie Mellon University (Emerging Female Scientist Award), as well as Richard Gebrosky of North Allegheny School District (Middle Level Educator Award).

The Catalyst for Science Education Award was given to ASSET Inc., a South Side nonprofit focused on science and math education programs. Last fall they received a $20.2 million U.S. Department of Education grant to establish Regional Professional Development Centers and associated sites throughout the state to help train 450 new teachers in special science curricula over the next five years. Says spokesperson Karen Ahearn: "We're really serving as a model for the nation."

As Carnegie Science Awards co-chair Ron Bailey noted: "Our larger mission is to inspire scientific curiosity in the next generation of leaders."

The awards ceremony is May 6 in the Carnegie Museum in Oakland, with keynote speaker Anousheh Ansari, the first civilian and first Iranian astronaut.

Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: John Tucker, Kennametal; Karen Ahearn, Asset Inc.; Carnegie Science Center
Image courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

New paths to Hollywood success through Pittsburgh Entertainment Technology Project

Pittsburgh's Hollywood connection has been building like the buzz on an Oscar contender. Now the Pittsburgh Entertainment Technology Project is about to take it to the next level.

The Project, devised jointly by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Idea Foundry, The Entertainment Technology Center and The Pittsburgh Film Office, is designed to make sure Hollywood is up on our buzz.

Audrey Russo, head of the Tech Council, says these groups have been emphasizing the art-tech intersection for years. By forming the Entertainment Tech Project, they can focus on creating direct pathways to Hollywood for local companies, building their visibility and business relationships with the West Coast film community through Pittsburgh's Film Office there.

The official launch is Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at CMU's Entertainment Technology Center. ETC's Don Marinelli will introduce the Project..

The fruitful art/tech collision continues with the 2011 Design, Art and Technology Awards (DATA) and New Media Exhibition from the Tech Council on April 28, hosted this year by Lyn Heward, international creative director and executive producer of Cirque du Soliel. There, the winner of a pitch-trip to LA will also be announced.

"The more they know what our capabilities are," says the Tech Council's Audrey Russo about Hollywood players, "the more they can get us business in the region."

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Audrey Russo, Pittsburgh Technology Council
Image courtesy of Audrey Russo, Pittsburgh Technology Council

Women and Girls Foundation leader makes women's business her business at Chatham

Heather Arnet made a national name for her Women and Girls Foundation with a "girlcott" of Abercrombie and Fitch over sexist t-shirts in 2005. The Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University hopes it doesn't take quite such a ruckus to create a welcoming atmosphere for all sorts of women in business and has invited Arnet to speak about the idea at its next Women Business Leaders Breakfast on Nov. 12.

It is vitally important, says Center Director Rebecca Harris, "to make sure women are supported and welcomed into the workplace from many backgrounds and cultures, and to make sure they succeed. It's so easy to just say, 'You've got the job'" and walk away without concern for what happens in the workplace afterwards. "But it's well-known that women and men learn differently. We know from studies that we've done that it's important that you have a very harmonious environment."

Starting 14 months ago, the morning series has also welcomed talks from women who head RAND, the YWCA, Management Service Associates and other important businesses. Each event includes a continental breakfast, networking and a question and answer session.

Are women too competitive with other women in the workplace to be welcoming? Harris thinks not: "We have found that women can be very supportive of each other and empower each other to achieve a lot. It's important today that we create those environments."

The talks, on the second Friday of each month (through June), take place from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. in James Laughlin Music Hall; the cost is $25. Register here.

Sign up to receive Pop City every week!

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Rebecca Harris, Center for Women's Entrepreneurship
Image courtesy of Center for Women's Entrepreneurship


Fast Pitch 2011 could be home run for social innovators

Pittsburgh Social Venture Partners is looking for a few good nonprofits 10, to be exact as finalists for its 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch.

A trio of winners not only gets much-needed cash ($20,000, $7,500 or $2,500) but, perhaps even more crucially, all 10 finalists get two months of training and mentoring on the art of the three-minute pitch. It all culminates on Feb. 17, 2011, in a presentation before 200 local business and nonprofit leaders, foundation executives, investors and a panel of judges.

"Most organizations have a mission that's very complicated," says Interim PSVP head Tessa Nicholson, "and it's very hard for them to explain in a concise way what they do and how they have an impact."

PSVP holds similar competitions twice a year for nonprofits focused on youth at risk. The 2011 Fast Pitch is open to any Allegheny County nonprofit that can show innovation: new products or services, fresh delivery methods or targets, technological advances, creative collaborations, inventive income creation or other novel approaches.

The inspiration for this Fast Pitch came from seeing PSVP's Los Angeles chapter hold a similar competition, says Nicholson. This event attracted organizations that taught teenagers to present their own business plans, alongside a group that taught ballroom dancing to instill discipline, one that offered a new therapy for abused women, and another that trained the formerly incarcerated in graphic design so that they could work for other nonprofits.

"We were blown away," she says of the LA presenters, "and I know we can do the same in Pittsburgh."

Registration deadline is Dec. 3.

Sign up to receive Pop City every week!

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Tessa Nicholson, Pittsburgh Social Venture Partners
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