Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 PCSE Seed Grant Competition — Kindergarten Kickstart, TRAP House, and Walking Elephants Home. These Wesleyan-connected social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources through the Patricelli Center.
One of the other six seed grant finalists, <Zim/Code>, has been awarded a $10,000 grant from another funder. Founder Alvin Chitena ’19 chose to withdraw from the Seed Grant competition before selections were made. Alvin was eager for the opportunity to pitch and get feedback from the audience and judges, but since he had already received seed funding, he wanted be sure that the PCSE grants would go to three other finalists.
The remaining finalists — Give Education and Pertiwi Initiative — have been awarded smaller runner-up grants funded by members of the Board of Trustees who attended the live pitches and believe that all six teams were worthy of validation. They hope that by adding this additional funding to the grant pool this year, the students will be able to continue testing their ideas about social change and iterating their projects.
Prior to the pitches, finalists submitted written business plans. These plans and the live presentations were evaluated by a panel of expert judges comprised of alumni, students, faculty, and staff. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities, and potential for impact.
These ventures exemplify the spirit of innovation and impact shared by many members if the Wesleyan community. They follow in a long line of successful Wesleyan-connected social enterprises — from SHOFCO to RefugePoint, Sustainable South Bronx to Musician Corps, and so many more. They have well-designed business plans, address a clear need, and are led by talented entrepreneurs.
The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship was founded in 2011 and has become one of the core civic engagement programs within Wesleyan’s Allbritton Center. Propel Capital recently announced a fundraising challenge that will endow the PCSE in perpetuity. For more information about the PCSE Seed Grant Competition and other Patricelli Center programs, visit www.wesleyan.edu/patricelli. To read about the challenge, visit newsletter.blogs-staging.wesleyan.edu/2016/02/29/propelcapitalgrant/.
2016 PCSE Seed Grant Winners
A joyful, nurturing foundation for school and an innovative research-to-practice bridge.
Stephanie Blumenstock ’16, Meg Narwold ’16, and Natalie May ’18
Kindergarten Kickstart is an innovative research-based, summer pre-K program for children in Middletown, CT who could benefit from extra preschool experience before beginning kindergarten. Through a partnership between university-based research labs, Middletown Public Schools, and local community organizations, Kickstart aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap and improve participants’ school readiness skills through a short-term, high-impact, low-cost preschool program.
Transforming, Reinventing, and Prospering
Bashaun Brown, Sara Eismont ’18, Irvine Peck’s-Agaya ’18, and Gabe Weinreb ’18
TRAP House is a startup incubator that operates in neighborhoods with high rates of drug activity. TRAP stands for Transforming, Reinventing, And Prospering. Recognizing that hustlers are entrepreneurs starved of opportunity, we will help them recognize their talents, identify their passions, and launch micro-ventures in the formal market. We will provide the financing, technical assistance, and network that our clients need to succeed.
WALKING ELEPHANTS HOME*
Working with communities to improve the lives of elephants and mahouts in the tourism industry
Becca Winkler ’16
The Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF) is a non-profit that supports elephants and their Karen mahouts (owners) in Thailand. The goal of Walking Elephants Home is to collaborate with indigenous people and prove that alternative forms of ethical tourism are possible through a business model that allows mahouts who free their elephants to earn a better income through sustainable ecotourism. Returning elephants to their natural habitat not only drastically improves their well-being but also enhances biodiversity and prevents further deforestation.
Other 2016 PCSE Seed Grant Finalists
Not every child is lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn, but we can change that
Hannah Brigham ’17
Many children in Cambodia are forced to drop out of school in order to support their families. But if a sponsor were found to match the income that the child would be able to learn, they would be able to remain in school. All it takes is $25 a month to change child’s life.
Decentralized Waste Bank for Women in Insular Communities
Eki Ramadhan ‘16, Josephine Ho ‘16, Aqila Putri ‘18, Denisa Arsyah, and Mayvita Dewi
Pertiwi Initiative strives to address a waste issue in the marine environment of Kepulauan Seribu in Indonesia by utilizing an environmentally and financially sustainable model of decentralized waste bank. This model will allow participants to manage solid waste more efficiently while receiving economic benefits. The Initiative also works to empower women by expanding the access to opportunities that allow them to have more active roles in the community and economy.
Bringing programming to the forefront of youth education and empowerment in Zimbabwe
Alvin Chitena ’19
The aim of Zim Code is to provide disadvantaged Zimbabwean youths free access to the resources they need to learn how to program and apply their newly learned skills in their communities. Through this project, they will learn the fundamentals of programming and use code to come up with solutions to socio-economic problems that Zimbabwe faces.
*Walking Elephants Home is funded by the Norman E. Priebatsch Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurship