Everyone was a winner at the inaugural Ed Pitch event Tuesday night, but the biggest winners are the students who will benefit from creative ideas developed by seven Arizona college students.
Ed Pitch is the latest effort by Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ) to support philanthropic efforts aimed at children and education. Arizona college students from Maricopa County were invited to propose ways to improve preK-12 education in the state.
The top five were invited to present their ideas live at the March 20 event, where $72,500 was up for grabs. The money will be used to bring their dreams to life.
- A panel of high-profile, community judges awarded the top prize — $50,000 – to Amanda Gryzkewicz of Northern Arizona University. Her “I Can Math” program will teach foundational math skills to preschool children, an idea supported by research that shows early math understanding translates to long-term academic success.
- The SVPAZ Partner award of $7,500 and a Southwest Airlines voucher went to Christopher Figueroa of Paradise Valley Community College. His Z Connect mentoring program will match high school students with community college student mentors to improve college attainment rates.
- The more than 200 people in attendance chose Filiberto Vargas of Arizona State University to receive the $5,000 Audience Choice Award. He plans to use a gaming approach to teach language arts via a personalized, blended learning approach for each student.
- The other finalists, both from ASU, received $5,000 per team through the generosity of the Burton Family Foundation. Samantha Mooney and Karis Felthouse proposed placing volunteer retirees in schools to provide career development for students from vulnerable populations. Alex Mooney and Cyrus Commissariat proposed to bring KidzLit, a reading enrichment program for grades K–8 that’s designed for out-of-school settings to Boys & Girls clubs that serve the urban Native American communities.
All five teams participated in a venture-training program, mentoring sessions and mock presentations leading up to the live pitch event
SVPAZ previously sponsored a Fast Pitch event for non-profits. It chose to focus on education this year in support of the Arizona Education Progress Meter, Expect More Arizona, Center for the Future of Arizona and the #EducateAZ initiative.
About Social Venture Partners Arizona
Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ) offers an entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy. A network of Partners donate money and lend their time and talent to nonprofit organizations primarily focusing on children and education. Partners who join SVPAZ operate like venture capitalists, providing infrastructure so nonprofits and can build skills and resources. More at www.socialventurepartners.org/arizona.