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The Voice of the Black Community

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Social entrepreneurs make their best pitch at SEED20 showcase
$20,000 grand prize is nonprofits' goal
Published Friday, April 13, 2018 9:07 pm
by Herbert L. White

Jason Terrell’s power of persuasion turned his nonprofit’s fortunes around.

Terrell, founder of Profound Gentlemen, earned $20,000 last year as winner of SEED20’s People’s Choice Grand Prize for social entrepreneurs. He used the winnings to extend stipends to male teachers of color in the mentoring program as well as move into new office space.

“That helped us out a lot,” Terrell said. “We’re three years old now, so every little bit helps.”

Terrell will be on the receiving end of the sales pitch April 16 at the annual SEED20 Onstage, Charlotte’s celebration of social entrepreneurs as a judge along with ESPN college basketball analyst and Charlotte attorney Jay Bilas and Corri Smtih, owner of Black Wednesday. The program at Knight Theater acknowledges the Class of 2018 with happy hour from 5:30-7 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by pitches from 10 finalists. Twenty social entrepreneurs received coaching and mentoring in preparation for a three-minute pitch to judges earlier this month. Half were selected for the finals, where they will make presentation from the stage to win cash awards. The contenders are Human Capital Investment, INTech Camp for Girls, Respect Ability Foundation, Transcend Charlotte, ZABS Place, Wise Guys, The Be More Foundation, Project Safe Child, 100 Gardens and Chemo Cars.

Terrell said he’ll look for long-term aspirations in a short amount of time.

“It’s very hard to try to get everything into three minutes,” Terrell said. “The biggest think I’m going to look for isn’t whether they have everything lined out, but impact and sustainability. What is their footprint and how is that footprint going to continue over time.”

SEED20 is an initiative of Social Venture Partners Charlotte, which aids organizations tackling social and economic inequality. The onstage pitch is the highlight for social entrepreneurs looking to make a difference. Earning the prize allowed Profound Gentlemen to double the number of teachers in the program to 60, which means developing more mentors for students.

“It gave us access to people to hearing our voices and hearing our stories about Profound Gentlemen and some of the teachers and students we serve,” Terrell said.

Social entrepreneurs – fledgling nonprofits or new offshoots of established nonprofits apply every fall for a spot in SEED20. The contenders are mentored on developing their bids before judges for the top prize before the finalists are narrowed.

“They met with me pretty much on a monthly basis, sometimes on a weekly basis,” Terrell said. “They helped me think through how do I deliver a cover story. When I first started, I had a pitch I would normally give, but they tore into it, told me what wasn’t good, what needed to change. That feedback was really good.”



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