The drumbeat of the social innovation revolution has been steadily growing in Austin, Texas. In 2014 we saw ourselves poised on the cusp of becoming the "Social Innovation Capital of the World" and since then the city has only moved more intentionally towards this goal. Today Austin is the hub of social innovation efforts, and we are redefining what it means to lead this global charge by bridging the divide between business and nonprofit while expanding our efforts beyond the city limits.
It was standing room only in the Junior Achievement's Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center for the inaugural Philanthropitch in Atlanta introduced by ChooseATL. The excitement on the stage and in the crowd made for a night of high energy and community engagement.
Congratulations to the eight Philanthropitch finalists who inspired an audience of almost 500 with their innovative social impact pitches. Overall we were able to award $140,000 bringing Philanthropitch total giving in Austin to $500,000!
The quality of the applications for Philanthropitch and Mission Accelerator this year blew us away. Our selection committee was challenged to narrow down the pool of exceptional organizations to only eight finalists who will compete for $125,000 and acceptance into the Mission Accelerator. These finalists really do represent some of the most exciting and innovative social impact efforts in Austin right now.
The dog days of spring are finally here and I want to spend a few minutes wagging my tail about a really cool competition debuting this year in Austin to support our pets. Remember the classic movie, Best in Show? Well… it’s happening! get your tickets !
Amplify Austin is Austin’s annual community-wide day of giving. On March 8, Central Texans will come together for 24 hours with a goal of raising $9 million for local nonprofits! Check out some of Philanthropitch’s alum to learn more about their impact and how you can support their amazing work:
Co-founder and CEO of Tiff’s Treats, Leon started Tiff’s Treats in 1999 in partnership with his wife Tiffany while sophomores at The University of Texas. Since then, the company has grown to over 350 employees and 20+ locations in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, with national expansion plans in the works. In addition to running Tiff’s Treats, Leon was a former Director at Epic Brands, which sold to General Mills in January 2016. He has also been involved in SKU, an Austin based consumer packaged goods incubator. His volunteer work includes being the past Chair of the Small Business Council, on the Board of Directors at The Austin Chamber of Commerce, Past Chair of The Fifty and being on the board at the Foster Angels of Central Texas.
Eight nonprofits from greater Austin will come together on May 2 to pitch their innovative and scalable program in front of a panel of business leaders and an audience of more than 400 individuals. The fourth annual Philanthropitch Austin will be held at ZACH Theatre where nonprofits will have the chance to receive more than $100,000 in cash grants and entrance into the Mission Accelerator, a five month program designed to fast-track the growth and impact of nonprofits in Greater Austin.
We are thrilled to be joined by Meg Erskine, Co-founder and Executive Director of Multicultural Refugee Coalition (MRC) and 2015 Philanthropitch finalist. Last year alone, Austin resettled more than 1,500 refugees from 25 countries. MRC is helping these families build a life of self-sustainability and successfully integrate into the Austin community.
Colin’s Hope, a water safety awareness program to prevent children from drowning, received $28,500 from Philanthropitch Austin in 2015. We wanted to check in with Colin’s Hope to see how the money impacted their organization and where they are now. I met up with Alissa Magrum, the Executive Director of Colin’s Hope, at the YMCA of Austin to see their Pre-K prevention program in action.
Are we the only ones who think it’s crazy that 2015 is coming to a close? We’ve hit some big milestones through Philanthropitch this year and have some pretty exciting plans in place for 2016! But the real story here is the awesome work our finalists continue to do long after their involvement in Philanthropitch.
You’ve been told that Philanthropitch is a one-of-a-kind “Shark Tank” style fast-pitch forum for high-potential nonprofit organizations. But…what does that really mean? What does the event look and feel like? What kinds of questions do judges ask during the Q&A session? What do some of these pitches actually sound like?
Every once in awhile you see something that makes you think "oh wow. This is going to change the world," but that rarely happens and even more rarely does it happen in the form of a social enterprise. I was privileged to be at the Mayor's office recently to experience such a thing last week called Vision for a Nation when Hong Kong's James Chen came to visit.
It has been a few weeks now since the City Council voted 9-2 to implement fingerprinting requirements on Uber & Lyft (TNCs) drivers on an initiative driven by Councilwoman Ann Kitchen. It has also been about that long since Uber and Lyft declared their intent to leave Austin should fingerprinting be made mandatory.
Way back in middle school, once a year our school counselor would come by our class to discuss possible careers. I remember a whole list of jobs based on the kind of interest you had. Doctor, Engineer, Technician, Real Estate Agent, etc. I vaguely knew what some of them were at the time, like obviously a doctor were those terrible people who stuck me with needles. Or pilots, who wore clear shield helmets and shot down the guys in dark shields.
Before last week the only context I had for Meals on Wheels was of Marla stealing food trays in Fight Club. Of course not the only reason, but it was definitely time to update that impression, so we signed up to volunteer on a route. If you’re unfamiliar with them, Meals on Wheels and More (their full name) has a main function of delivering food to various homebound people in the community. On the day of, we rolled up to Meals on Wheels HQ around 10:30. They had us fill out some simple paperwork, then watch an informative training video that threw you back to high school movie days (aka best days of school). Afterward, we got to check out the food trays that we’d be using. I was fairly certain I’d botch the distribution job, but they use an easy color-coding system.
When the group of 6th grade kids before me said they wanted to be pediatricians, engineers, and veterinarians, I knew something was going right. These fledgling, sciency people were just beginning a program that would help them achieve those goals.
Early bird registration is now open for Startup Games Austin 2016! The standard startup division (30-250 employees) will be held on January 23, 2016, and the Level Up competition (250+ employees) will be held April 23, 2016. Both will be at Fair Market at 1100 E 5th St. The Early Bird deadline for Startup Games in July 31, and the deadline for Startup Games: Level Up is August 31, each with $1,000 off team entry. Spots are already filling up fast, with 10 teams already on board for Startup Games and 4 more for Level Up.
Preparations for Austin’s 2016 Startup Games and Startup Games: Level Up are underway, and now we have dates and a venue. We’re heading just east of downtown to hold the Games at Fair Market. Startup Games is scheduled for January 23rd, and Level Up for April 23rd.