City News

Nonprofits win cash at SEED20 competition

The 2015 SEED20 winners say the oversized checks are not the only rewards they reaped from their participation in this year’s competition. completion. From left, Brittany Breckenridge, A.C.E. Your Prostate Exam; Jack Sheehan, F.R.E.E.; Hannah Arrowood, Present Age Ministries; Dee Lanier, UNCOMMEN; and Joanne Stratton Tate, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool.
The 2015 SEED20 winners say the oversized checks are not the only rewards they reaped from their participation in this year’s competition. completion. From left, Brittany Breckenridge, A.C.E. Your Prostate Exam; Jack Sheehan, F.R.E.E.; Hannah Arrowood, Present Age Ministries; Dee Lanier, UNCOMMEN; and Joanne Stratton Tate, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. COURTESY OF RODNEY SCOT PHOTOGRAPHY

More than $50,000 was awarded to the finalists in this year’s SEED20 OnStage! competition for nonprofit entrepreneurs in the Charlotte region.

The winners include a bilingual preschool, an app designed to connect men with key relationships in their lives, a residential program for sexual abuse survivors, an organization offering support to young widows and a prostate cancer awareness campaign for the African-American community.

The competition was held March 3 at Knight Theater, where 10 finalists made three-minute pitches to a five-judge panel and an audience of 700 community members, who then voted on their favorites.

Social Venture Partners of Charlotte, a global network of philanthropists, sponsors the annual SEED20 competition. Jennifer Davis-Martin, the lead partner for the SEED20 competition, said SVP sees it as a great opportunity to “lift up and get exposure for these organizations that are addressing some of our community’s most challenging social issues.”

This year’s People’s Choice Grand Prize winner is Charlotte Bilingual Preschool. The preschool received the most audience votes and was awarded $20,000.

The preschool on Central Avenue offers early childhood education for Spanish-speaking children in the area. Joann Stratton Tate, the head of school, said she appreciated the exposure to such a wide audience that the competition provided and the way the process helped her learn to tell her story succinctly.

Second and third place prizes, voted on by the judging panel, were awarded to UNCOMMEN and Present Age Ministries.

UNCOMMEN, which won the second-place prize of $12,500, is an app that challenges men to win as leaders, husbands, and fathers by providing short, video-driven challenges from their peers.

The $7,500 third place prize went to Present Age Ministries, a residential housing program for girls who have experienced sexual abuse.

“Winning the prize was about so much more than the money,” said Founder and Executive Director Hannah Arrowood.

She values the exposure the competition provided for her organization and “the issue of abuse and human trafficking of teen girls.”

The coaches’ award of $5,000 went to F.R.E.E., an organization that gathers used mobility and medical equipment and donates it to uninsured and under-insured people. The Charlotte chapter is run by Jack Sheehan.

The inaugural Priceless Misc Digital Impact Award, given by a SEED20 sponsor that provided $10,000 worth of in-kind web and digital services, when to A.C.E. Your Prostate Exam.

Brittany Breckenridge co-founded the nonprofit with her mother to raise awareness in the African-American community about prostate exams after her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. Brittany said the prize is “an invaluable resource because we are a staff of two.”

Even those competitors who didn’t win prize money benefited from the six-week coaching process and the exposure to the competition’s largest audience.

Breckenridge, articulating a common sentiment among this year’s competitors, said, “SEED20 is our hero. They catapulted us to our destination and gave us tools that we can now use to grow our charity.”

Katya Lezin is a freelance writer. Do you have a story idea for Katya? Email her at bowserwoof@mindspring.com.

Learn more:

For information about SEED20 and Social Venture Partners, visit www.socialventurepartners.org/charlotte/

For information about the nonprofits mentioned above, visit:

▪ Charlotte Bilingual Preschool: bilingualpreschool.org

▪ UNCOMMEN: UNCOMMEN.org

▪ Present Age Ministries: presentageministries.com

▪ F.R.E.E. Foundation – Charlotte Chapter: free-foundation.org

▪ A.C.E. Your Prostate Exam: Aceyourprostate.org

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