The BALSA Foundation awards BALSA Grants to a diverse group of first-time entrepreneurs

Summer 2017 BALSA Grant finalists.  Front row, left to right: Kimberly Knox and son, Knox Academy; Cherise Jackson, ReeBrand, LLC; Rachel Simon-Lee, Heartwork Videos, LLC; Javania M. Webb, You Are Worthy, Inc.; April Warren-Grice, Liberated Genius, LLC; Kristin Slater, Plain Louie / Biopic.  Back row, left to right:  La’Shay M. Williams, Atmospheres, LLC; Kacie Starr-Long, Sew Esteem; Matt Wyczalkowski, BALSA Foundation; Gay Lee Freedman, The Hot Stopper; Daniel Povinelli, BALSA Foundation; Sara Goldson, The Hot Stopper; Mark Katerberg, BALSA Foundation; Chef Marca Nicole, Private Chefs Fit4UMeals; Aziz Traore, BALSA Foundation; Tom Cohen, BALSA Foundation.

Summer 2017 BALSA Grant finalists.  Front row, left to right: Kimberly Knox and son, Knox Academy; Cherise Jackson, ReeBrand, LLC; Rachel Simon-Lee, Heartwork Videos, LLC; Javania M. Webb, You Are Worthy, Inc.; April Warren-Grice, Liberated Genius, LLC; Kristin Slater, Plain Louie / Biopic.  Back row, left to right:  La’Shay M. Williams, Atmospheres, LLC; Kacie Starr-Long, Sew Esteem; Matt Wyczalkowski, BALSA Foundation; Gay Lee Freedman, The Hot Stopper; Daniel Povinelli, BALSA Foundation; Sara Goldson, The Hot Stopper; Mark Katerberg, BALSA Foundation; Chef Marca Nicole, Private Chefs Fit4UMeals; Aziz Traore, BALSA Foundation; Tom Cohen, BALSA Foundation.

SAINT LOUIS, September 5, 2017. The BALSA Foundation, a not-for-profit promoting inclusion in the Saint Louis entrepreneurship community, has awarded another round of grants to first-time entrepreneurs and the first ever $5000 STL Partnership Award to a previous BALSA Grant recipient.

We often talk about entrepreneurship in terms of smarts, passion, and determination,” said Matt Wyczalkowski, Executive Director of the BALSA  Foundation in his opening remarks at the LaunchCode Mentor Center, where the awards were presented on September 5th.  “All of these things are important.  Yet what strikes me the most is the bravery it takes to press forward into the unknown, to risk so much with no certainty of success.”  The night’s program also included a panel discussion on efforts in Saint Louis to promote entrepreneurship in underserved communities moderated by Ginger Imster from The Saint Louis Economic Development Partnership. The panel was made up of individuals who have dedicated their careers to the effort, including Galen Gondolfi, Chief Communications Officer at Justine Petersen; Alyce Wilson, Director of Grace Hill Women’s Business Center; Kristy Jackson, CEO of DK Solutions & Events and Founder, Social Synergy Project and GLAMM; and Josh Wilson, Executive Director of MISSION: St. Louis. The discussion covered efforts in Saint Louis to help underserved entrepreneurs, the specific needs of those communities, and a couple of success stories including the inspirational history of DK Solutions from founder Kristy Jackson herself.

The BALSA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the BALSA Group, a local non-profit strategic consulting group, and was founded on the premise that a more diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem will contribute to a more inclusive and collaborative city. The Foundation offers a downloadable roadmap to starting a business (in both English and Spanish) , a mentorship-for-all program, and individual grants  For the 2017 fall grant cycle BALSA grant recipients will receive $1,000 in cash, as well as in-kind awards valued in total at over $25,000, including co-working space from TechArtista and in-kind technical assistance from Faro Law STL, Polsinelli Law, Cortex Innovation Community, Brazen, St. Louis County Public Library, The Private Bank, Sierra Communications and several others. Funding for half of cash grants was made possible by the generous support of the STL Economic Development Partnership.

A diverse set of entrepreneurs and industries applied for the grant awards and recipients pitched their ideas to an audience of over 150 at the ceremony on September 5th. 

New for this grant cycle was a collaboration with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership that allowed an additional $5,000 to be granted to a previous BALSA grant winner, The STL Partnership Award. It was targeted toward entrepreneurs that made significant progress with their business while also being a positive force for the St. Louis small business community. The $5,000 prize was awarded to CORE + RIND, launching a cashew “cheesy” sauce soon that is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, organic, non GMO and with no preservatives. The grant from the BALSA foundation will help the St. Louis startup through the final stages of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

CORE + RIND Founders Candi Tenney (left) and Rita Childers (middle) pose with Ginger Imster from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

CORE + RIND Founders Candi Tenney (left) and Rita Childers (middle) pose with Ginger Imster from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership

The BALSA Foundation will launch its next BALSA Grant cycle on January 1, 2018; details and deadlines will be announced at www.balsafoundation.org

ABOUT THE BALSA FOUNDATION

The BALSA Foundation is an all-volunteer non-profit organization established to provide resources, mentorship, and funding to first-time St. Louis entrepreneurs.  The BALSA Foundation’s mission is to promote social equity and prosperity in the St. Louis region by empowering first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. We fulfill this mission by (1) maintaining an online, step-by-step guide to starting a business, (2) providing free feedback from experts to anyone with a business idea, (3) providing cash grants, mentorship, and donations of professional services to first time entrepreneurs who need and will benefit from them the most.

For more information visit: http://www.balsafoundation.org.

 

 

Awards Ceremony Program

Awards Ceremony Program