Charlotte's SEED20

Remember a couple weeks back when I mentioned that J.D. and I had a SEED20 and then dinner date out?  I want to share a little more about this event with you guys.  It was really an pretty impressive evening.  I didn't know what to expect and I was blown away.  Charlotte folks, highly recommend you make a point to attend next year! 

You can read all about SEED20 here, but basically it is a venture-philanthropy based pitch competition for non-profits seeking funding.  (Say what?  That's J.D.'s basic description.  I'll explain....)  Social Venture Partners puts on SEED20 in Charlotte annually.  They interview non-profits throughout our region and select 20 to be part of the competition.  These 20 non-profits are then assigned a coach to help them develop a 3 minute pitch.  They meet with their coach for 2+ months and during this 2 month period the field is narrowed down to 10 non-profits.  On the final evening of SEED20, these 10 non-profits deliver their pitch to an auditorium filled with the coaches, selected judges and a general audience and a winner is selected.  The audience votes for their favorite but experienced judges also select winners and give very generous cash prizes.  J.D. has been a coach for the past two years.  Last year he told me how impressive the evening was so I agreed to go this year.  Guys, there are some REALLY impressive charities and people out there doing really impressive things in Charlotte.  It's the kind of event that is completely eye opening and makes you want to get involved. 

You can read all about these non-profits here, but let me share some thoughts on a few that made an impression on me:

PlateShare - Okay, picture a really cute girl that is the first on stage to deliver her pitch in front of an entire packed auditorium.  I'd probably be freaking out, but she blew everyone away - and eventually won the event!  PlateShare is brilliant.  Her concept is for everyone to round up to the nearest dollar when dining out at a restaurant.  All proceeds would go to fighting hunger.  Can you imagine the MILLIONS that would be raised if we all just donated an extra 15 cents or so when we went out to dinner?  Her pitch was spot on stressing that food banks need money to buy FRESH food, not canned processed food donations.

Camp Blue Skies - This non-profit is a camp for adults with disabilities.  I don't think you could listen to this pitch and not have such a soft spot for this charity.  They ended up winning audience favorite for good reason.  The camp founder delivered an impressive pitch spouting out facts on how "the system" offers little support for individuals with disabilities once they are past age 18.  The thing I love about this charity is that it really helps both the campers with disabilities, but also their families, giving their family a desperately needed break.  The camp founder stated that one parent thanked him when picking up her happy adult camper.  The week away at camp had given her the first night alone with her husband in over 20+ years.  Can you imagine????  I cannot.  It's exhausting taking care of a healthy newborn.  I cannot imagine the exhaustion of taking care of someone with a disability for life.  Wow.

Youth Development Initiatives - Guys, this non-profit is doing BIG things.  They offer an after school program geared to keep at risk kids in school, on target and out of trouble.  I know, it sounds like something you've heard before, but they are getting results.  And I truly feel if we can solve this problem, it would have so many positive ripple effects.  Their founder delivered an unbelievable pitch introducing the audience to "Mike."  After going through YDI's program, Mike went from a failing GPA to graduating on time with an impressive GPA.  On the other hand, "John" was on their waiting list and due to lack of funding could not be accommodated in the program.  John ended up not graduating and unfortunately later in jail.  Get this, Mike and John are brothers.  (True story, but I can't remember the exact names.)  I can't imagine guys.  We've got to support groups like this who are really trying to help these vulnerable teens.  This group got my vote, and actually won the Coach's award as well.

If you're interested, take a few minutes to see more.  If you're in Charlotte, consider attending next year.  I think you'd be impressed!

~Mary Keller