Gwinnett Spark Prize grants more than $50,000 to local nonprofits
By Denise Townsend, Regional Director at United Way of Greater Atlanta
The United Way Gwinnett Advisory Board recently held its fourth biennial Spark Prize competition. This competition is an opportunity for innovative 501c3 nonprofit organizations, especially smaller ones, to compete for a grant prize to fund a program that directly impacts the Gwinnett citizens within the Advisory Board’s current Investment Priority Areas of Economic Stability, Strong Learners, and Racial Equity. Notable winners from the past competitions include – 2016: Care Closet a high school student’s innovation for mobile food pantries in high schools; 2018: Corner’s Outreach that works to increase graduation rates using a two generation approach, 2020: Gwinnett Coalition with a project to set up little libraries across the community. Gwinnett Spark Prize has awarded $278,500 since its inception.
In the final event, five finalists present their pitches to a panel of judges in a Shark Tank like approach. This year’s winners were:
- First place winner of $25,000 prize- Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage & Disability (ISDD) for expanding into Gwinnett their senior kinship program to support grandparents and other family members who provide care to keep kids out of foster care.
- Two second place prizes of $12,500 each were awarded as the judges had a tie in their scoring. Heirborn Servants: Give Rides for their program that gifts cars and provides transportation vouchers or arrangements to single mothers that helps them to access and sustain educational pursuits and employment to support their families.
Asian Student Alliance, for their program to build leadership capacity among Asian American students by fostering a safe space to navigate their intersectional identities eand mpowering them to become active world-class members in their global community. ASA also won the People’s Choice Award of $2,500 that is awarded based on audience voting.
The emcees – Former Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash and Northside Duluth COO Jay Dennard were super and motivational speaker and poet laureate Hank Steward gave an inspiring keynote. Sponsors are key to the Gwinnett Spark Prize and we thank The Primerica Foundation for their $25,000 donation and Georgia Power for their $5,000. Also, in-kind sponsors Lawrenceville Arts Center and Lawrenceville Coca-Cola bottling were appreciated.
To get involved with United Way in Gwinnett, contact Aliza Gevirtz, Engagement Director at email@example.com.