Fast Pitch Winners!

Fast Pitch SB Provides Opportunity for

Meaningful Community Change 

If you have ever watched Shark Tank or American Idol, you have likely been inspired and thrilled by the compelling pitches and performances of contestants competing for a chance to achieve their dreams. Now imagine American Idol or Shark Tank for the nonprofit sector. Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara has just sponsored an exciting competition where nonprofit organizations competed for community recognition and cash awards, all hinging on a compelling, three-minute fast pitch before a live audience.


Through Fast Pitch SB, 20 nonprofit organizations were selected from close to 100 applicants to participate in a seven-week communications workshop where they were each mentored by a public speaking coach as well as two volunteer communications coaches. These nonprofit leaders each developed a pitch that uniquely describes their agency’s purpose-driven mission.


“This is about social innovation and making a difference,” said Seth Streeter, president of Mission Wealth, an SVPSB partner, and chief energy officer for Fast Pitch SB. “I see that a lot of nonprofit leaders need resources for communicating so that they might clearly convey their organization’s vision. We wanted to help nonprofits by giving them a platform to be properly exposed and at the same time connect business leaders with meaningful volunteer opportunities.”

The culmination of the seven-week workshop was a live event on May 15, 2014, where the 10 finalist organizations presented their pitches in front of a panel of judges and an audience filled with hundreds of Santa Barbara locals – potential donors, board members, and volunteers. The 10 finalists performing at the live event were:

  • Mark Tollefson for Fairview Gardens
  • Jennifer Freed for AHA!
  • Bob Williams for Veggie Rescue
  • Meichelle Arntz for Angels Foster Care
  • Bethany Markee for Solvang Viking Cafe
  • Lynn Houston for A Different Point of View
  • Kim Davis for Court Appointed Special Advocates
  • Miki Garcia for Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
  • Stephen Jones for Sarah House
  • Amy Winslow for Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara


While each finalist organization was provided with a $1,000 grant courtesy of Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara, additional awardees included:

  • Grand Prix Award $15,000: Bethany Markee for Solvang Viking Café
  • Audience Choice Award $10,000: Bethany Markee for Solvang Viking Café
  • State Street Award $5,000: Meichelle Arntz for Angels Foster Care
  • Mission Award $5,000: Lynn Houston for A Different Point of View


Judges offering feedback and determining the best pitches included:


  • Marybeth Carty, Community Partnership Manager, Venoco, Inc.
  • Lori Gaskin, President, Santa Barbara City College
  • Harry Grammer, Founder and CEO, New Earth Organization
  • Geoff Green, Executive Director, The Fund for Santa Barbara
  • Jose Huitron, Founder, Hub 81
  • Laurie Leighty, Senior Vice President, American Riviera Bank
  • Helene Schneider, Mayor, Santa Barbara


“Through this event, we are helping nonprofit leaders effectively communicate the human value of their work,” said Joan Young, executive director for SVPSB. “It is exciting to see an incredible group of over 60 volunteers here in Santa Barbara roll up their sleeves and commit to bringing the proven Fast Pitch model to support our local nonprofit community.”


Fast Pitch SB would not have been possible without the following sponsors: Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Foundation; Music Academy of the West; Cox Communications; Mission Wealth; Venoco, Inc.; Keller-Rohrback; Kauffman Wealth Services; Mesa Lane Partners; Noozhawk; The Paskin Group; Pacific Coast Business Times; CompuVision; Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; The Bank of Santa Barbara; Deckers Outdoor Corporation; Citrix; Union Bank; Allen & Associates Construction; and The Fund for Santa Barbara.


For more information, please visit


Photo credit: Fast Pitch Chief Energy Officer, Seth Streeter; Santa Barbara Mayor, Helene Schneider; Grand Prix and Audience Choice Award Recipient, Bethany Markee; and Hub 81 Founder, Jose Huitron. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Burt.


Photo credit: Seth Streeter welcomes the crowd at the first Fast Pitch SB event. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Burt.


About Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara


Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara is a group of people for whom improving the community is part of their life’s journey, a global network of partners connecting passion and purpose. SVPSB amplifies the impact of those out to do good by connecting and engaging with individuals, helping them make the greatest impact with their philanthropic giving; funding and strengthening nonprofits, helping them take their vital work for kids and the environment to the next level; and investing in collaborative solutions, so those with a common cause can align their efforts and go farther, together.


Contact:         Judy Hawkins

Ruby Road Leadership

(805) 455-8381


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