Congratulations to our BALSA Grant Finalists!

We are delighted to announce our 2016 BALSA Grant Finalists!  These ten first time entrepreneurs will each receive a $1000 cash grant, in-kind donations of professional services, and ongoing mentorship to help start and grow their business:

  • Arriel Biggs, Young Biz Kids
  • River Fronczak, Coffee, Curls & Cupcakes
  • Iris Green, Scoops and More
  • Liz Kuba, Tea Rex
  • Bonnidette Lantz, Lightenstein
  • Carrie Lewis, Sweetlife Gourmet
  • Alicia Lohmar, Ladybits Toiletries
  • Karen Rogier, Arlyn Arlene
  • Katy Thomas, Gig{a}bit Rocks
  • Sompit Vasey, Ma Yim Enterprises

The BALSA Foundation awarded an additional $500 cash award, representing contributions from the public raised through Give StL Day, to Alicia Lohmar, who was judged by our external reviewers as having an outstanding business idea and fit to the BALSA Foundation's mission.

You can read more about all our finalists here.  See press release.

Summer 2016 BALSA Grant Awards Ceremony.  Left to right: Matt Wyczalkowski, Executive Director; Sompit Vasey, Ma Yim Enterprises; Bonnidette Lantz, Lightenstein; Liz Kuba, Tea Rex; Iris Green, Scoops and More; River Fronczak, Coffee, Curls & Cupcakes; Arriel Biggs, Young Biz Kids; Carrie Lewis, Sweetlife Gourmet; Alicia Lohmar, Ladybits Toiletries; Karen Rogier, Arlyn Arlene; Katy Thomas, Gig{a}bit Rocks; Katie Adastra, Outreach Director; Paimun “PJ” Amini, Business Director.

Handout from the BALSA Grant Awards Ceremony.

Summer 2016 BALSA Grant is Open for Applications

Dear Friends of the BALSA Foundation,

We're delighted to let you know that we are accepting applications for the Summer 2016 BALSA Grant through July 15th, 2016!

We will award at least $10,000 in cash awards and $30,000 of in-kind donations for professional services to first-time St. Louis entrepreneurs.  Winners will join the BALSA Foundation finalist community and receive one-on-one mentoring and other resources to help them launch and grow their business.  Learn more about the BALSA Grant here.

The deadline to apply is end of the day July 15.  We will notify all applicants of their status by mid-August, and publicly announce the next class of BALSA Grant finalists at our awards ceremony on September 1 - details to follow. 

For more information, please contact us at

With best wishes for a great summer,

The BALSA Foundation Team


Announcing our Generosity Campaign

We're excited to announce our Generosity campaign!

To help support first-time St. Louis entrepreneurs and grow the BALSA Grant, we are reaching out to the community to help. The Generosity campaign a crowd funding effort to gather donations from those who support the Foundation’s mission of entrepreneurship as a path to social equity and prosperity in St. Louis.

See our new video and learn more about the Generosity campaign.

The BALSA Grants Awards Ceremony

Congratulations to the Spring 2016 BALSA Grant finalists! Photo by Constantino Schillebeeckx.

We are delighted to announce the Spring 2016 BALSA Grant finalists and their awards!

Our Spring 2016 BALSA Grant program received 143 submissions from a variety of business types and industries, which were reviewed by an external panel of local entrepreneurs. Ten finalists pitched their ideas at our awards ceremony and received cash grants totaling $10,000.  All finalists also received in-kind awards of over $30,000, including co-working space from Tech Artista and T-Rex, legal services from Polsinelli, accounting services from BDO, and marketing support from Clear To Launch.  

Our finalists and their BALSA Grant cash awards are,

  • Carla C. Soll, Anointed Cake Creations, $2250
  • Laura Shields, Arabicano, $1500
  • LaTausha DeBoise, ReddyWear, $1250
  • Pamela Nolan, Script-Loons, $1000
  • Janelle Mack, 2Geez Catering, $1000
  • Ashley Clay, Bella Noir Event Rentals, $1000
  • Sonia Deal, DEAL-C2, $500
  • Arnold Tutson Jr., Rescue Cuts, $500
  • Thurman Rhodes, DADDYS, $500
  • Karen Buckley, MicroPopShop, $500

Learn more about our finalists.

The BALSA Foundation will continue to engage with our finalists as they establish their business and work to make it grow.  We will provide workshops on business topics, one-on-one mentoring, and opportunities to meet with local business owners for in-depth guidance and advice.

Congratulations and best wishes to all of our finalists!

Photos by Michael Kilfoy,

See our press release.


Announcing the New BALSA Grant Finalists!


We are pleased to announce the Spring 2016 BALSA Grant finalists!

We had a record 143 applications for this round of the BALSA Grant.  Our ten finalists were selected by an external committee of local entrepreneurs and vetted for eligibility and fit to our mission.  All are exceptionally deserving first-time entrepreneurs, for whom BALSA Foundation resources and mentoring are likely to make a significant difference for their businesses. Congratulations to all!

Read more about these and former winners.