The First Annual Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge was held May 21 at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. This civic entrepreneurship focused event was designed to allow Bloch School students to present innovative ideas that will better serve the Kansas City community and beyond.
The participating teams included:
- Planet Play (Kelly Bobbitt, Debra Box, Barb Brown, Lauranne Hess, Jimmy Holmes and Gloria Zamora Kahler)
- Mountain View Trade School (Joy Ellsworth)
- Clothes from Heaven (Geri Hughes)
- Tutorious (Alfredo Palacol, John Stamm)
- EPEC (Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child) (Jim Fisher, Natasha Kirsch)
- C.I.T.Y. (Leslie Scott and Roxana Shaffe)
The 2013 winners (officially titled “Levitt Changemakers”) were Tutorious, a tutoring service that focuses on individualized education for high school students, and EPEC, which strives to raise the employment rate in underserved populations by training individuals in a specific trade.
Four leaders from the Kansas City nonprofit community volunteered to judge and mentor the teams, including David Battey, President and Founder, Youth Volunteer Corps of America; Gloria Jackson-Leathers, Director of the Kansas City Civic Engagement Program, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Bernardo Ramirez, Executive Director, Hispanic Economic Development Corporation; and Gene Wilson, Former President of Youth Development, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The judges focused on each team’s 15 minute presentation of their venture idea and implementation strategy. These presentations, in addition to business plans that were submitted prior to the event, added up to a score that would determine winning teams.When talking about the significance of the challenge, Bloch School Dean Teng-Kee Tan said “Entrepreneurship for profit is only a cup half full – social entrepreneurship fills it up. This is the story of Henry Bloch’s life: not just creating wealth, but giving back through social entrepreneurship. This is also the twin-pillar vision of the Bloch School. We want our students to be more like Henry Bloch each day.”
Each Levitt Changemaker team was awarded the opportunity to work with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership to receive further mentoring and help developing their social venture.