The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Mar 07, 2012

Charlotte hosts entrepreneur competition to address community issues

Posted by Susan Patterson

Meet Julie Jones, a second-grade teacher with a big idea. She was the winner at the first annual social entrepreneur competition, organized by Charlotte's Social Venture Partners and supported by Knight Foundation. Eighty-two organizations applied. Twenty finalists were selected, and then 40 volunteer coaches worked with the 2012 class to hone their messages and their 3-minute TED talk-like presentations. All were terrific, but Julie especially so.

Her idea: a grub composting program that uses a bioconversion process to divert food waste from our landfills while producing protein-rich chicken and fish feed. 

And how did she come to this idea? By watching her students dump food in the cafeteria trash cans each day.

She won the $15,000 grand prize, which she said will fully launch her Grub-to-Grub idea, as well as an additional $5,000 Coaches Award. To learn about the other projects and all winners, go to

From the coaches' enthusiasm for the idea-generators they worked with, from the enthusiastic sold-out audience for the presentation and from the idea-generators themselves, it's clear Charlotte needs more of this - more innovative contributions to addressing our area's most pressing problems.

By Susan Patterson, program director/Charlotte at Knight Foundation

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