Social Entrepreneurship/Nonprofit Pitch Competition

Presented by The University of Akron Sponsored by the Kenneth Calhoun Trust

Have an idea to improve the community? BE THE CHANGE 10K is a pitch competition where University of Akron students have a chance to compete for a top prize of $10,000 to benefit the community.

Additional prizes will be awarded to runners-up. Think of this like "Shark Tank," except you are competing for prize money for a social cause you care about.

On this page:

#BeTheChange10K - Initial Application


All events take place at the EXL Center - Bierce Library Room 168 and will have free food!


Week 1: Launch Week - "Social entrepreneurship in your world"

  • Pitch competition kick-off

Week 2: Social Business Basics – “Building a startup with a conscience”

  • Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship -- Paul DeCapua, SCORE

Week 3: Understanding Social Startups - “From ideation to implementation”

  • Nonprofit founder story – Tom Ghinder, Akron Promise

Week 4: Networking - “Getting known by knowing your community”

  • Networking/co-founder meet greet


Week 5: Akron’s Social Business Ecosystem – “Finding resources in an entrepreneurial city”

  • Getting Involved in Akron – Nicole Mullet, ArtsNow

Week 6: Professional Pitching – “Pitching like a pro, from the elevator to the investor”

  • Pitch Workshop – Steven Gates

Week 7: Nonprofit and Small Business Law – “Establishing a strong legal foundation“

  • Legal Issues for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises – SEED Legal Clinic

Spring Break: Mar 25- 29, Bonus Smart Startup/Nonprofit Finances – “Budget, plan and grow”


Week 8: Finding Funders – “How do we get funding!?”

  • Wednesday, Apr 3 initial applications due by 11:59 p.m.

  • Thursday, Apr 4 at 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Funding for your Nonprofit or Social Enterprise – Bronlynn Thurman, Knight Foundation and GAR Foundation

Final applications due

  • Friday, Apr 5 by 11:59 p.m.


  • Tuesday, Apr 9 – Semifinal Competition
  • Wednesday, Apr 10 – Semifinal Competition
  • Thursday, Apr 18 – Final Competition


  1. Complete this initial application by Wednesday, April 3.
  2. After we receive your initial application, you are then to meet with a community business mentor who will provide feedback on your idea.
  3. Complete a two-page application packet that we will email to you after you send us your initial application which provides more detail about your startup by Friday, April 5.
  4. Participate in the semi-final pitch competitions on April 9 and 10.
  5. Five finalists will compete at the final pitch competition on Thursday, April 18.

The top prize of $10,000, and additional prizes in the thousands of dollars will be awarded to runners-up!


  1. At least one member of the team must be a UA student. It is acceptable (and encouraged) to have community members and faculty members also as teammates. If students from other universities are on a team, the majority of students must be from UA;
  2. The competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students of any major or discipline;
  3. Students with a for-profit business idea are eligible to apply. The for-profit business idea must have a community impact or angle.
  4. When considering applications, the judges may give preference to interdisciplinary teams, and also consider diversity.


Learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation at UA.

The "Be the Change $10,000 Social Entrepreneurship Pitch Competition" is proudly sponsored by the Kenneth Calhoun Trust.

This challenge goes out to the dreamers, the innovators, the hackers, the creators: for anyone whose vision runs ahead of the pack. You are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and today we are calling you out. It’s time to turn ideas into actions, time to break down barriers, time to stop talking about the future and start fixing the present. Prepare your pitches because you need to BE THE CHANGE today.