Fast Pitch Sets Record Attendance for Seventh Annual Competition

Social Venture Partners Arizona March 29, 2017

Labor’s Community Service Agency won the $25,000 top prize at Social Venture Partners Arizona’s annual Fast Pitch event Tuesday night. It pitched a project to provide reliable transportation for working-poor families.

Social Venture Partners Arizona (SVPAZ) put a spotlight on philanthropy for a seventh year, attracting a record crowd of 720 to the March 28 event where social entrepreneurs competed in front of a live audience with just a stage and their stories, shared in 180 seconds or less.

The evening at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts showcased nine innovators: seven nonprofit leaders, one ASU student and a for-profit entrepreneur with a social mission, each competing for cash awards and grants – plus more raised by community leaders, business executives and philanthropists looking to invest in impactful Valley ventures. SVPAZ awarded more than $60,000 while audience members donated an additional $15,000 after hearing the inspired pitches.

One memorable moment of the night came when the Kiita Foundation gave an on-the-spot award of $2,500 to Skate After School, after giving $7,500 to Northbridge College Success Program.

Read Better Be Better, which seeks to improve third-graders’ reading ability, took the $10,000 judges’ award.

The live event is a culmination of an eight-week program in which 25 innovators received coaching and technical expertise from business and philanthropic leaders to help hone their message and build a foundation for future success. The finalists each had three minutes to pitch a panel of judges. Fast Pitch dares to ask the question: “How can you change the world in three minutes?

The full list of Fast Pitch award winners:

  • $25,000 SVP Innovator Award to Labor’s Community Service Agency and Stephen Sparks, who was chosen by a panel of Partners from the SVPAZ network for the innovation and repeatability of the SHIFT program.
  • $10,000 Judges’ Choice Award to Kelsey Pinckney, program coordinator at Read Better Be Better, who was chosen by the panel of community judges during the showcase event.
  • $7,500 KIITA Award: In Inuit, KIITA means “Get up and Go!” This year, Jason Moore with Northbridge College Success Program compelled KIITA Foundation members to get up and give them money. Kiita donated an additional $2,500 to Ryan Lay with Skate After School.
  • $5,000 Jaburg Wilk “Making Tomorrow Better Today” Award to Kelsey Pinckney, program coordinator at Read Better Be Better, for its work in literacy at the critical third grade level. This is the inaugural award for Jaburg Wilk.
  • $2,500 ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Award to Melanie Isaacs of Pal Experiences for its work in accessibility for children and families with autism.
  • $2,500 People’s Choice Award: After the presenters con­cluded their pitches, audience members texted for their favorites. Shelia Iyengar of The Nagi Foundation received the most votes.
  • $1,500 Don Keuth Mentor’s Choice Award to Melanie Isaacs of Pal Experiences. She was selected by the 60+ mentors who participated in the program this year. The award is in honor of Don Keuth, a long-time Fast Pitch mentor and friend of SVPAZ, who passed away in January.
  • $2,000 Student Innovator Award to Joshua Smith, an ASU student and CEO of Fortunes Financial. Fortunes Financial is a software-based education tool that teaches college students how to manage their money.
  • $5,000 Social Enterprise Award to Jacob Hamman, co-founder of Zenjoi, a social enterprise seeking to improve quality of life for Alzheimer’s victims.
  • $10,000 Match. The S. Rex and Joan T. Lewis Foundation graciously donated $10,000 for a donation match the evening of the event. Any of the 23 (student and nonprofit) Fast Pitch innovators received dollar-for-dollar matching, up to a $10,000 combined total.

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

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