trio of projects come out of cleveland colectivo fast-pitch event

A student-operated restaurant, a Cleveland-centric advocacy group, and a venture aiming to transform vacant lots into summer program spots for kids were the big winners of The Cleveland Colectivo's fast- pitch presentation event on February 28.

The high-energy affair hosted by Shaker LaunchHouse drew over 125 attendees. They voted on 46 presenters who came with innovative ideas and hopes of getting funding from the Colectivo, a grassroots, Cleveland-based giving circle that pools funds to make contributions in the community.

The three top vote-getters -- Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute, The 1990 Project and Literary Lots -- came with accessible, concisely presented ideas that inspired the crowd, says Colectivo founding member Judy Wright. As the crowd favorite, Edwins took home $770 in donations collected at the event.

Colectivo members will next consider the remaining projects to join the crowd's picks. As many as 12 additional ventures will have a chance at this year's grants, which generally range from $500 to $5,000. Grants will be determined and distributed in May.

"We're not a traditional grant-maker," says Wright. "We spend our entire budget every year, and there's no overhead costs. It's basically people putting cash in a pot and giving it away."

Wright, a Lakewood resident, created the Colectivo in 2004 with a group of like-minded friends from the nonprofit sector. She deems this year's fast-pitch event a success, even if every presenter will not be getting their idea funded. It's always good to see a disparate slice of Cleveland's demography getting together, she believes.

"There's some genuine connections being made," Wright says. "It's exciting and energizing. There is some real value in that."

SOURCE: Judy Wright
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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