Business Philanthropy Group Offers $50,000 Grant through Innovation Pitch Competition

Greater Phoenix Economic Council

Nonprofits and early-stage businesses in Greater Phoenix that have pivoted to address COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for a $50,000 grant provided by the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy at the Arizona Community Foundation. A selection committee will determine the final four companies. These businesses will then be invited to participate in a digital pitch competition on May 28 at 10:00 a.m. as part of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s (GPEC) digital series, ‘Regional Report.’

“The business community in Greater Phoenix is incredibly resourceful and collaborative,” says Brandon Clarke, co-founder & CEO StartupAZ Foundation. “We have seen early-stage companies develop and innovate around existing technology to help address the current crisis. I’m grateful and inspired by the Pakis Center for their generosity and dedication to helping businesses in Greater Phoenix. We know this grant will provide an opportunity for an entrepreneur further support the community.”

“When we recognize innovation and multi-dimensional solutions in corporate and community endeavors, we maximize Arizona’s possibilities for success,” Pakis shared. “If we plan for long-term solutions now, we can ensure we do not leave behind community-members, small business owners, or those on the front-lines of this crisis.”

The selection committee evaluating the applications includes i6 Challenge project partners from Arizona State University, Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, GPEC, Partnership for Economic Innovation (PEI) and StartupAZ Foundation.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and we have been incredibly inspired by how entrepreneurs have pivoted their technology to meet the current needs of our region,” says Chris Camacho, president & CEO at GPEC. “By working together, this region has always risen to the challenge and this type of innovative thinking will help us accelerate out of the downturn and keep Greater Phoenix on the map.”

The Arizona economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly the small business community. In Arizona, there are 571,495 small businesses, making up 99.4 percent of total operations in the state. While roughly 60% of Arizona small businesses have received PPP funding through the Small Business Administration, Greater Phoenix leaders and investors still see an opportunity to provide vital funding to assure innovation in the region continues.

The Regional Report webinar will be a two-part series. On May 20 at 2:00 p.m., a panel of esteemed investors will provide perspective about how the pandemic has impacted their investment decisions, and what startups and early-stage companies can do to weather the storm. The pitch competition will follow on May 28 at 10 a.m. Audience participation is welcome during the pitch competition.

“Greater Phoenix is a place of ingenuity. We look forward to seeing entrepreneurial innovation amplified further in response to the current crisis,” says Dean Duncan, executive director of PEI. “And we hope this challenge is the first of more opportunities to come for collaborative problem-solving to tackle our Region’s next big challenges.”

To apply for the grant or register to attend the Regional Report series, visit:

The Pakis Family Foundation was established in 1996 by Fred Pakis to encourage intergenerational grantmaking by the Pakis family. Fred Pakis co-founded Scottsdale-based JDA Software in 1985 and previously served on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Community Foundation.

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