Congratulations LA Business Journal Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Award Winners

August 29, 2012

Ezequiel Olvera, Gumball FoundationWe were proud to see some familiar names pop up in the Los Angeles Business Journal in June. At their annual Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards, the Journal honored two of LASVP’s Fast Pitch alumni and one of our past Investees. We were excited to see them honored, but not surprised. Over the years, we’ve come to expect it—the fantastic organizations we have the privilege of working with go on to climb greater heights.

The Organization of the Year award went to Chrysalis, an innovative and impactful organization fighting homelessness. Mark Loranger, who presented on behalf of Chrysalis at our first Fast Pitch event in 2008, was also a coach at the 2011 Fast Pitch program, mentoring finalist Cardborigami. Chrysalis impressed the LA Business Journal with their success in creating pathways to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income people. According to the Journal, “In 2010 alone, Chrysalis Enterprises created over 218,000 hours of employment and generated 2.5 million in wages,” and despite a difficult job market, saw a 15% rise in employment among their clients in 2011.

The award for Outstanding Nonprofit Team went to former LASVP Investee organization TreePeople. The environmental organization’s leadership model “has created a true team approach and a culture focused on ensuring TreePeople’s ongoing success.” Congratulations to all the hard-working staff there, who continue to be dedicated to growing a sustainable future for Los Angeles.

The Social Enterprise Award went to Gumball Foundation, the organization selected as the Audience Favorite at the 2011 Fast Pitch. Their model encourages academic success and increases college access while teaching students valuable entrepreneurial skills—a triple threat that has also been making a splash in the media. Gumball Foundation has recently been featured on NBC and Telemundo, and interest in the young organization continues to grow. Ezequiel Olvera, the founder of the organization, says that his Fast Pitch training has come in handy—most recently when he addressed the audience of 500 at the Journal’s award ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

Congratulations to all of the Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards Honorees! We know that they will continue to achieve bigger and better things, and most importantly, keep making positive change in our communities.

Want an early peek at the nonprofits who have the potential to become the “next big thing?” Don’t miss our 5th Annual Social Innovation Fast Pitch on October 24th.

Partner Q & A: Brad Sparks

August 29, 2012

Brad SparksLASVP Partner Brad Sparks is the Director of KPMG International’s Global Green Initiative, the firm’s global climate change strategy. Brad has been part of the LASVP Partnership since 2008.

Q: What is your role with LASVP? Why did you get involved in this area?

Brad: I currently serve as Treasurer. As a CPA, it is a bit of a natural fit. And with my current role at KPMG being focused entirely on sustainability, it’s an opportunity to continue to think about the accounting and finance issues I dealt with previously.

Q: What is your favorite LASVP Investee/Fast Pitch Alum organization?

Brad: My favorite Fast Pitch organization is Food Forward – it is such an obvious opportunity, but was completely overlooked until someone took the time to try to do something that makes perfect sense.

Q: What do you listen to when you’re stuck in traffic?

Brad: I don’t get stuck…believe it or not, LA does have some public transportation exceptions that work and I take a 20-minute commuter express bus from El Segundo to downtown each day. It is half the time and saves me from paying $10 a day parking. So instead of listening to the radio, I spend my commute reading the Economist.

Q: What is your favorite place in LA?

Brad: It’s my town – El Segundo. Basically, the town is Mayberry in a big city, with parades, a Main Street, and now both a fantastic brewery and beer garden. My wife, Maureen, and I basically don’t drive on the weekends – spending our time enjoying the Gundo.

Q: Which nonprofit organization do you wish everyone knew about?

Brad: GRID Alternatives – it was a Fast Pitch program in 2011 and I love what the group does – putting solar panels on low-incoming housing. Basically, it is a renewable energy twist on Habitat for Humanity and the additional bonus is that it uses the process to train people to become contractors for solar panel installations.

You can read more about our Partners here on our website.

Why It Matters: LA Diaper Drive

August 28, 2012

Los Angeles Diaper DriveLASVP learned about LA Diaper Drive through the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch program. Caroline Kunitz pitched on behalf of the organization and LA Diaper Drive won th $20,000 Judges’ Award and the $20,000 LASVP Investee Award. Click here to watch Caroline’s awesome pitch!

When you hear about LA Diaper Drive, the first thing that comes to mind is babies. But when LASVP learned about the way that LA Diaper Drive operates, we realized that a diaper can be the key to helping an entire family.

Veronica* was in 6th grade when a teacher found out that she had been cutting herself. The school intervened to try and offer her the help she needed. They provided Veronica with counseling services, but they really needed to reach her mother as well. A busy woman taking care of several other small children, the school reached out to her by offering diapers donated by LA Diaper Drive as an incentive to attend family counseling. The much needed diapers got Veronica’s mother in the door, and she and her daughter began attending counseling regularly. Soon Veronica was able to overcome her self-destructive behavior, and began to thrive academically.

This is why LASVP loves LA Diaper Drive. Their partnerships with other organizations mean that every diaper donated has a dual purpose—to meet an immediate need for children in poverty, and to act as a tool to create lasting change. We’ve invested in their commitment to families in need by helping to secure warehouse space for the donations, collborating on their annual plan, and helping to prepare their annual budget. By helping our Investee to build its capacity as an organization, we’re unleashing their potential to have a wider and deeper impact on Los Angeles.

* Name changed

You too can aid this amazing work by donating to LA Diaper Drive through their website. Thanks to connections they have made with the larger community, LA Diaper Drive receives a 75% discount on diapers they purchase. $1000 given to LA Diaper Drive can keep 29 babies in diapers and 29 parents in classes for an entire year. That works out to be less than $35 for an entire year’s worth of service to a family.