FIRST wins $25,000 grant from Entrepreneurs’ Fund

Nonprofit encourages young people to pursue STEM education and careers

CONCORD, NH (PRESS RELEASE) – With a $25,000 grant on the line and with judges voting in real time, five nonprofit organizations made their final three-minute pitches to members and guests of the Entrepreneurs’ Fund of New Hampshire during the EFNH AMP NH Award Competition last night at Dyn in Manchester. EFNH members and guests voted for nonprofit projects based on anticipated “amplified benefits” for the organizations and communities they serve. FIRST of Manchester, which provides innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in the STEM fields, received the most votes to win the $25,000 grant.

EFNH, an initiative of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, channels the expertise, energy and passion of the state’s leading entrepreneurs to strengthen New Hampshire communities through innovative philanthropy.

“I love that we are showcasing a different way to do philanthropy,” said Mary Jo Brown, president of Brown & Company Design and an EFNH member. “The shared learning that happens between the nonprofits and the entrepreneurs is good for New Hampshire. We are building connections between those two sectors in a meaningful way that will be long-lasting.”

With the $25,000 grant, FIRST will expand its FIRST Jr. STEAM Ahead program to seven Manchester elementary schools in an effort to increase interest in STEM education and careers. The program partners students with mentors from local businesses and introduces them to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks. Currently, U.S. First offers the program to 250 fourth graders in Manchester’s Beech, Jewett and Green Acres Elementary Schools. Over the next two years, FIRST hopes to serve all 14 Manchester elementary schools, reaching more than 1,000 students.

“This program is all about providing access to opportunity,” said Dan Hughes, a FIRST volunteer and technical advisor for this Manchester pilot project. “Through these activities, through the connections with mentors, these kids are opening their minds to possibilities. It gets them thinking ‘Maybe I want to do this when I’m older.’”

During an EFNH nonprofit pitch event in Portsmouth on April 30, Community Toolbox, Inc. of Portsmouth, which uses volunteer labor to provide critical home repair to low- or fix-income homeowners, won a $25,000 grant. EFNH will host its final pitch event this spring in Hanover on Thursday, May 21, at DEN. At each competition, EFNH members award a $25,000 grant to a nonprofit.

Since 2011, 63 nonprofit organizations have participated in pitch camps and AMP Awards Competitions with EFNH. When the three grants are awarded this spring, 13 organizations will have received grants from EFNH totaling $210,000.

To prepare for the AMP NH Award competitions, finalists were paired with EFNH mentors, who worked one-on-one with nonprofits to help craft engaging and persuasive pitches. Finalists took part in “pitch camps” prior to the final event to help put the finishing touches on their pitches.

“This really is a unique event that brings nonprofits and thought leaders from the private sector and philanthropic circles together,” said Evan Karatzas, a pitch camp mentor and founder of Proximity Lab. “There is no other event that delivers so much value to participants in such a concentrated and efficient way.”

Along with FIRST, finalists and their projects included:

  • Ascentria Care Alliance (Manchester, NH) will expand its Language Bank program, which offers language interpretation services provided by refugees and immigrants, by using video remote interpreting.
  • Moore Center Services (Manchester, NH) will create programs to prevent or defer nursing home placements and help seniors stay in their communities.
  • More than Wheels (Manchester, NH) will create a fee-based concierge car-buying service to help consumers of any income level negotiate a car purchase. The proceeds will be used to support MTW’s car-buying and financial education program for qualified low-income families.
  • NH Interscholastic Athletic Association (Concord, NH) will pilot a regional student leadership skill-building program for southern NH high school athletes so they are better equipped to manage their social lives and responsibilities through high school, college and into the workforce.

About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation was created in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire, and is dedicated to strengthening communities across the Granite State. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 1,700 philanthropic funds created by generous families, individuals and businesses, and awards more than $30 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation invests charitable assets for today and tomorrow; works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving; supports critical work happening in New Hampshire communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.