Bloch Announces Inaugural Group of “Levitt Changemakers”

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.

Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Jim Levitt watches as the teams prepare. Jim helped repurpose funds for the creation of this event in memory of his father, Aaron Levitt.

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.

From left, Alfred Palocol and John Hamm from Tutorious accept their award from Department of Public Affairs Chair David Renz.

From left, Alfred Palacol and John Stamm from Tutorious accept their award from Department of Public Affairs Chair David Renz.

Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

From left, EMPA students Jim Fisher and Natasha Kirsch accept their award from David Renz.

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.

From left, judges David Battey, Gloria Jackson-Leathers, Gene Wilson and Bernardo Ramiriez ask the teams questions.

From left, judges David Battey, Gloria Jackson-Leathers, Gene Wilson and Bernardo Ramiriez ask the teams questions.

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.

Visit the Levitt Challenge web site for more information and to find out how to participate.

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