The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) has recently announced the finalists for the 2015 PCSE Seed Grant Competition. These six team finalists include “Assk,” “Feminist Performance and Education Troupe,” “Potlux,” “TechBucks,” “The Wesleyan Doula Project,” and “WeStudee.”
Each of the contestants offers their own individual project.
“Assk,” by Rachel Verner ’15, is a unisex underwear and clothing line that encourages and normalizes active sexual consent. “Feminist Performance and Education Troupe,” by Chloe Murtagh ’15 and Raechel Rosen ’15, is a group working to foster empowerment in American undergraduate institutions through performances, education, community organizing, and network building. “Potlux,” by Gabe Frankel ’15, Jared Geilich ’15, Gerard Liu ’15, Keren Reichler ’16, Aaron Rosen ’15, Brent Packer ’15, Ellen Paik ’16, and Cassia Patel ’17 is intended to be the first online community for collegiate sustainability initiatives. “TechBucks,” by Julian Compagni Portis ’15 and Kehan Zhou ’15, is a platform for college students to sell old electronics and, in turn, reduce demand for new ones. “The Wesleyan Doula Project,” by Hannah Sokoloff-Rubin ’16, Alexandra Stovicek ’17, and Julia Vermeulen ’15, is a development to provide emotional, physical, and informational support to women choosing to terminate their pregnancies at Connecticut Planned Parenthood clinics. Finally, “WeStudee,” by Paticha Areepipatkul ’18, Darcie Binder ’15, Alexander Garcia ’17, Ye Ji Park ’18, and other team members will be an online service allowing students an opportunity to find study partners in their courses and improve their educational outcomes.
The final award is a $5,000 seed grant to fund the launch or early-stage growth of a University-connected social enterprise or program. Previous grantees have used this funding for many causes that include, but are not limited to, launching a free Community Supported Agriculture initiative in Middletown, working with incarcerated youth in Chicago, advocating for farmers’ working conditions in Bali, reducing bottled-water consumption on college campuses, and bridging the digital divide in the Philippines.
PCSE Director Makaela Kingsley ’98 explained that this year’s applicant pool was larger than that of 2013—the first year that the grants were offered—but smaller than the pool in 2014.
“Nearly all of the applicants were competitive, with clearly-articulated social issues and solid plans for their project or venture,” Kingsley wrote in an email to The Argus.
A panel of 11 alumni, faculty, and student judges selected these finalists. The judges assessed applications on the strength of the team and the venture plan.
“They were looking for evidence that applicants deeply understand the problem they’re trying to address, have studied the other players/organizations working on the same issue, and have a well-designed plan for implementation,” Kingsley added.
Vice President of Social Responsibility and Vendor Compliance for Children’s Place Marcus Chung ’98 was one of the judges.
“I was impressed by the level of creativity, dedication and sophistication in the first round applications and I’m excited to see how the finalists continue to refine their ideas to create sustainable enterprises that positively impact society and the planet,” Chung wrote in an email to the PCSE. “To me, the seed grant competition is an example of meaningful, high-impact, next-generation leadership that’s right in Wesleyan’s sweet spot.”
Anne Lebleu ’00, another judge, expressed her excitement at taking part in this process.
“It was a genuine pleasure and honor to read the PCSE seed grant applications,” Lebleu wrote in an email to the PCSE. “It reminded me that Wesleyan’s student commitment to social change is unwavering, and that the creativity fostered on campus continues to expand beyond its boundaries.”
The PCSE will announce the grant winners on March 7.