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November 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Social Venture Partner’s Fast Pitch is a novel approach to grantmaking
On the ABC show “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs have mere minutes to persuade investors to line up behind their proposal. And on the FOX show “American Idol,” the audience weighs in on contestants, helping to select winners. A blend of the two television shows offers a sense of what’s in store at Social Venture Partners Seattle’s Fast Pitch, where non-profit and for-profit innovators will compete Wednesday evening for a slice of $250,000 in grants and investments.
Since 2011, SVP has put on the series of competitive rounds, winnowing the field from 90 applications to 44 quarter-finalists, 23 semifinalists and 13 finalists. Among this year’s finalists is Teachers United, a two-year-old organization of about 250 public school teachers.
This video gives a sense of what’s in store on Wednesday evening.
Chris Eide, a Seattle teacher and one of the group’s founders, will deliver the pitch. Eide tells me that Teachers United is a nonprofit worth investing in because it offers a way forward in the teaching profession. The nonprofit seeks to invert the typical top-down paradigm in education policy-making in which public institutions and the state Legislature make the decisions.
“We want teachers’ voices to be the ones to actually shape education policy,” says Eide. ”We want the considerations and perspectives of the best teachers in the profession to be the voices that actually shape education policy. To do this, we go to schools, we meet teachers where they are and connect them with policy leaders, for example kindergarten teachers and (Seattle City Councilmember) Tim Burgess to discuss early learning programs.”