Social Innovators to Apply by August 1 until August 22.

July 26, 2011 — Today, Social Venture Partners Seattle (SVP) announced its first-annual social innovation competition which will culminate in an exciting “fast pitch” event where contestants compete for $150K in grants and investments.   After receiving training and mentoring, on October 3, a dozen “social innovators” will pitch their innovative programs or new businesses to a panel of judges, investors, and an audience of up to 500 voting participants.    This combination of traditional nonprofit and for-profit organizations in a single event is a Seattle-first, and maybe even a National-first innovation, highlighting recent trends in social impact investing.  Applications are due between now and August 22nd at .

“We’ve been scouring the nonprofit and for-profit sectors for social innovation in all shapes and sizes, and encouraging the innovators to apply to our Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) program,” said Will Poole, SVP Lead Partner and program organizer.   “And while competition for grant and investment money is important, we know that the lasting value that contestants will receive is the training, mentoring, and exposure to the local community delivered though this high-profile program.” he added.

Working through the extensive SVP network, Will has assembled a group of volunteer business and nonprofit executives and community partner organizations to drive the program and gain awareness for the competition.   Individuals from University of Washington, ZINO Society, Microsoft, WinShuttle and IslandWood among many others have spent the past months reaching out to their constituents to solicit innovative entries.   A team of equally-dedicated volunteer mentors and coaches will help them all prepare for the competition and show their innovation in the best light possible.

The final deadline for these “New Ideas for Social impact” is August 22nd.  Early bird entries received before midnight of August 1st get added benefits.  Over the month of September, qualifying applicants – ranging from high school students to established social impact organization innovators – will have a variety of training opportunities including “pitch clinics” and mentoring sessions with seasoned business and nonprofit leaders.  At the semi-finals in late September, a judging process will determine the best group of contestants who will then pitch in front of the finalist judges and audience of 500+ on October 3, at the Fisher Pavilion in Seattle Center.   

The finalist judges for SIFP 2011 will include:

  • Steve Arnold, Ph. D. -- Vice Chairman and Co-Founder, George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • Jon Fine -- President and CEO, United Way of King County
  • Jean Floten – Chancellor, WGU Washington
  • Michael Free, Ph. D. OBE – Vice President and Senior Advisor for Technologies, Global Program Leader, Technology Solutions, PATH
  • Gifford Pinchot III, Ph. D. – Co-Founder and President, Bainbridge Graduate Institute
  • Paul Shoemaker – Executive Director, Social Venture Partners Seattle

“Contests such as these help us, social entrepreneurs, get early traction for our ideas," said Jacob Colker, Co-founder of  Colker won numerous contests for his social innovation back in 2008.  “The $425K we won in prize money was akin to an early-stage investment round from a venture capital firm,” he added. “Although our social innovation business ideas are becoming more attractive to VCs, we still aren’t on their radar early enough to make a difference in our own business evolution," he added.  “Competitions like this are essential.” 

SIFP Seattle 2011 is made possible by generous contributions from founding donors including Ashoka Seattle, Bezos Family Foundation, Bill and Paula Clapp, the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, and Social Venture Partners. Founding corporate sponsors include Aditi Technologies, Microsoft, and Winshuttle. 

Learn more about SIFP at or about Social Venture Partners at

Apply to SIFP Seattle 2011 now at  There is no fee to apply or participate.

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