Social Innovation Fast Pitch Program Awards $10,000 First-Prize Grant to Non-Profit Advertising Agency BTS Communications

Oct 22, 2010, 15:30 ET from USC Stevens Institute for Innovation

Two Other Non-Profits, South Central Scholars and Food Forward, Granted $5,000 Prizes as Social Innovation Fast Pitch Caps Third Year

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- BTS Communications, a non-profit advertising and social media agency dedicated to helping addicts achieve recovery through employment training, won first prize for Best Overall Pitch in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch program held yesterday at the University of Southern California. The prize carried a $10,000 grant to assist the non-profit in growth and development.

BTS Communications was among the 10 finalists in this year's Social Innovation Fast Pitch program.  The finalists made 3-minute business pitches before a panel of judges and an audience of 500 investors, business and non-profit leaders and other members of Southern California's entrepreneurial community.  

The Social Innovation Fast Pitch was established to support the social entrepreneurs who tackle some of the Los Angeles area's toughest social and community problems, making an important contribution to the innovative, vibrant culture in the Los Angeles area.   Now in its third year, the Social Innovation Fast Pitch is produced by a partnership of the Los Angeles Social Venture Partners (LASVP), the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship (ASE), and the University of Southern California.

BTS Communications, which is housed within the Beit T'Shuvah addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, helps addicts recover by providing professional career training in the advertising and marketing fields.  John Sullivan, Creative Director of BTS Communications, made the winning three-minute pitch to a panel of judges with a range of backgrounds in business, investing, civil service, and non-profit management.

Food Forward, a Los Angeles-based non-profit whose volunteers harvest locally grown food from private homes and public spaces and then distribute the food to local organizations serving those in need, won a $5,000 prize for Innovation and Impact for its fast pitch by Founder and Executive Director Rick Nahmias.   Mr. Nahmias' pitch was also picked as the "audience favorite" through a live cell-phone vote, carrying an additional $1,000 prize.

South Central Scholars, a non-profit that assists disadvantaged students from South Central Los Angeles succeed in college and graduate school, won a $5,000 prize for Outstanding Pitch based on the three-minute fast pitch by Executive Director Meredith Curry.

The Social Innovation Fast Pitch event is the culmination of a two month "boot camp" training program designed to teach leaders from innovative non-profits the same critical communication skills and strategies that for-profit entrepreneurs use to advance and grow their businesses. BTS Communications also won the $2,500 "Coaches' Prize," determined by the Social Innovation Fast Pitch business mentors who worked with the organizations during the training program.

During the summer, Fast Pitch organizers select 20 non-profits from a pool of applicants; the 20 then go through group training and are paired with teams of experienced businesspeople who help each organization's members sharpen their strategic vision and hone the three-minute pitch that is made at the culminating event.

At stake was more than $20,000 in cash grants awarded to the non-profits delivering the strongest pitches, and also the professional relationships with for-profit business leaders that are forged during the two-month process.

"Our larger goal is the creation of a cross-sector ecosystem that can provide the support, advice and mentoring needed to encourage the development of innovative non-profit organizations," said Ken Deemer, a Founding Partner of Los Angeles Social Venture Partners. "These sorts of networks and ecosystems are common in the for-profit world, and now after three years we've started to build an effective community around the innovative social entrepreneurs who do so much to help our communities."

"Innovation is all about turning new ideas into social impact, and we definitely saw it in spades tonight," said Krisztina Holly, Vice Provost for Innovation at the University of Southern California and Executive Director of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation. "It's so rewarding to help these passionate entrepreneurs become more effective at turning their creativity into real change."

The Social Innovation Fast Pitch is organized by Los Angeles Social Venture Partners, the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship, the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, the Society and Business Lab at the USC Marshall School of Business, and the USC Office of Government and Community Relations.  Dr. Peter Diamandis, X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO, presented the keynote address at last night's event.

About The Social Innovation Fast Pitch

To support social entrepreneurs tackling some of the city's toughest problems, and to contribute to the innovative, vibrant culture in the Los Angeles area, Los Angeles Social Venture Partners (LASVP), the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship (ASE), and the University of Southern California partner to produce the "Social Innovation Fast Pitch" program. The Social Innovation Fast Pitch Program provides a free, two-month training and mentoring program for innovative nonprofits that are effecting social change in Greater LA. The goal of the program is to build the capacity of, and create visibility for, innovative local nonprofits and the social entrepreneurs who lead them. For more information about the Social Innovation Fast Pitch, visit http://www.socialinnovationpitch.org/.

SOURCE USC Stevens Institute for Innovation



RELATED LINKS

http://www.socialinnovationpitch.org/