The five finalists for the 2020 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship (PCSE) Seed Grants were announced on Feb. 3. Five projects—Narratio (Ahmed Badr ’20, Edward Grattan, Brice Nordquist, and Gemma Cooper-Novack), ONA (Ona Hauert ’20), Opioid Harm Reduction and Education Initiative (Livia Cox ’22, Nick Wells ’20), Pather Education Development Initiative (Kyllian Pather ’20), and SustainableSurfingProducts.com (William Huestis ’22, Michael Eustace ’22)—were selected as this year’s finalists.

The PCSE Seed Grants were first awarded in 2013 and receive between 12 to 18 applications annually. After the first evaluation, around six projects typically advance to the second round, where they face thorough evaluations by a panel of 15 judges, most of whom are Wesleyan alumni. Eventually, three projects are chosen to receive grants. 

“Three grants of $5,000 apiece [are given out]…to fund the launch or early stage growth of a project, program, or venture with the potential to have social and/or environmental impact,” Director of the PCSE Makaela Kingsley wrote in an email to The Argus.

Finalists for the Patricelli Seed Grant must address a social problem, but do so in a sustainable, environmentally conscious way. Each of the five projects that has made it to the second round has a unique mission to impact society.

Narratio, proposed by Badr, is a global collective dedicated to making the voices of displaced youth heard by publishing poetry, art, videos, and podcasts in addition to providing fellowships and workshops. 

ONA, by Hauert, is a brand focused on combating the excessive waste of the fashion industry by upcycling old garments old garments into zero waste clothing, a step towards making the fashion industry more sustainable. 

“I create one-of-a-kind wearable art on up-cycled and vintage clothing,” Hauert wrote in an email to The Argus. “Taking garments no longer so desirable at this point in their life cycle, through hand painting, stenciling, dying, bleaching, block and screen printing, I transform and repurpose them as salable pieces.”

Opioid Harm Reduction and Education Initiative, by Cox and Wells, tackles issues related to opioid addiction through education and grassroots collaboration with local community members. The plan emphasizes working with neighboring businesses and public facilities to increase knowledge of the opioid crisis in Connecticut. By raising awareness through training sessions, Cox and Wells hope to empower the people of Connecticut to become more aware of potential medical issues they may be facing. 

“Right now, EMTs and other medical professionals know how to use Naloxone, but the people who actually encounter overdoses on a regular basis, such as librarians or homeless shelter workers, are ignored,” Cox and Wells wrote in an email to The Argus. “We hope to improve overdose response preparedness in communities where it is needed the most, and to us, that means forming community partners to work within existing systems rather than trying to change everything from the outside.”

Pather Education Development Initiative, by Pather, is focused on making quality education more accessible in South Africa and eventually creating a center at Centurion College in Hillbrow which would provide test prep, financial assistance, and tutoring, as well as other services.

“I wanted to start a program to affect change in a small but meaningful way that addressed these issues,” Pather wrote in an email to The Argus. “Working with a local High School with severely limited resources in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg’s most dangerous areas located near the city center, I have been able to help 6 students so far apply access tertiary education in South Africa and apply to a range of U.S. College [programs]. We wait with bated breath to hear back from the colleges (including Wesleyan).”

SustainableSurfingProducts.com, by Huestis and Eustace, makes eco-friendly surf products more accessible by listing and selling them on an online platform.

“The goal of this project is all about doing our little part to help make surfing that much more environmentally friendly,” Huestis wrote in an email to The Argus. “Surfing is all about the harmony between a human and the natural world, riding waves of energy that have traveled hundreds of miles. The action can be deeply spiritual for a lot of us surfers and we don’t want the instruments that we use to find that deep connection with nature (the surfboard), to be made with un-harmonious environmental practices.” 

For the final round, each project will be presented before the panel of judges. The finalists are currently working with Associate Professor of the Practice in Oral Communication Sarah Ryan and Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy Rosemary Ostfeld to prepare their pitches.

On Friday, Feb. 28, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Beckham Hall, the finalists will give seven-minute presentations that will be open to the public. Grant recipients will be announced on Monday, March 2.

Hallie Sternberg can be reached at hsternberg@wesleyan.edu. 

Oliver Cope can be reached at ocope@wesleyan.edu. 

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