Jenica Tomdale, 720.898.5938
Community members vote in real time to give away $450,000 in grant dollars for mental wellness innovations
ARVADA, CO (June 5, 2018) – What happens when community members are given the power to invest in mental wellness solutions?
At The Innovators Society pitch competition on Tuesday, June 5, a community audience judged the value of six nonprofit innovations focused on reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. Real-time voting empowered audience members to wear the hat of a funder and award $450,000 in Community First Foundation grant dollars that would benefit their communities.
The pitch competition was the capstone event of The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation. The program invests in promising, but not yet proven, nonprofit innovations to increase awareness and change perceptions of mental health by engaging a network of committed nonprofit innovators, community leaders and community investors.
“We are excited to be on the cutting edge of a groundswell of nonprofits and funders replicating the accelerator and pitch competition models statewide. The Innovators Society adds a unique dimension to these models by focusing on mental wellness and distributing grant dollars under the guidance of community leaders,” said Noah Atencio, Vice President of Community Impact at Community First Foundation. “We are proud to see a true community network leveraging their support to power these amazing innovations.”
The following grants were awarded:
Justin Kruger, Founder of Project Helping and grand prize winner from The Innovators Society’s inaugural year, emceed the pitch competition. “This is by far the most innovative and inclusive approach to grant funding I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Half-way through the competition, high-school senior and Spoken Word artist Lily Padilla, with dancers from the Colorado Conservatory of Dance, performed a choreographed ballet about the stigma of mental wellness. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Now that the pitch competition is over, the innovators will spend the next six months in an accelerator program to develop a plan of action for their programs with the grant dollars they will receive. They will then present at a Grand Prize event in early 2019 where community members will invest one grand prize of $50,000 to the innovation of their choice.
About The Innovators Society
The Innovators Society, a program of Community First Foundation, invests in promising, but not yet proven, nonprofit innovations to increase awareness and change perceptions of mental health. At Community First Foundation, we power the innovators. More about the Innovators Society.
About Community First Foundation
Since 1975, Community First Foundation has been helping generous donors and innovative nonprofits come together to improve the quality of life and create positive change in Jefferson County, the Denver metropolitan area and beyond. We serve as a connector, partner, collaborator and resource to fuel the power of community for the greater good. We are proud to use our energy, leadership and trusted stewardship of financial resources to energize giving across our state, strengthen nonprofits, support donors and find new ways to address community needs. For more information, visit Community First Foundation.