Belle Glades students in ‘Philanthropy Tank’

WEST PALM BEACH — After reviewing numerous applications, the finalists for Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank are ready to be announced. This year, eight innovative, socially meaningful ideas that positively impact the community have been selected for the Philanthropy Tank Finals in March.

The “Shark Tank”-style competition is for students enrolled in grades 7-12 in Palm Beach County. The program empowers and equips students to develop and execute high-impact sustainable community betterment projects. To date, past winners have impacted the lives of more than 7,500 people. The third-year finalists will “pitch” their ideas in front of a live audience and a panel of four local Philanthropist-Investors. Each idea can receive a maximum of $15,000, and 12 months of one-to-one mentoring.

A trio of students in Belle Glade, Guadalupe Alcala-Garcia, Mya Rodriguez and Yalissa Baltazar, who started a charity named “Helping Hands” has been selected as one of eight finalists in the 2018 Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank. The students attend Glades Day School, Glades Central High School and Lake Shore Middle School.

The Philanthropy Tank Finals event features four Philanthropist-Investors who judge the pitches and generously commit $25,000 each to fund these projects and give their time and expertise to the students through the ongoing mentoring as the ideas come to life. This year’s Philanthropist-Investors are all from the Town of Palm Beach: Jim Karp, John F. Scarpa, Christine Stiller and Rick Stone.

“This will be my second year as a Philanthropist-Investor, and this event is so meaningful that I’ve asked some of my good friends to join me.” said Christine Stiller. “I was amazed by last year’s students and thoroughly enjoyed assisting them in developing their projects. The passion that these students have for making a difference in the community is thrilling to witness.”

New this year to the finalist selection process was the Community Vote in which Palm Beach County residents could cast their votes to select one finalist student or team to advance to the Philanthropy Tank Finals. We received more than 1,600 votes from the community and we are proud to announce that Hurricane Helping Hands from American Heritage School of Boca Delray has been named the Community’s favorite. Hurricane Helping Hands aims to provide low-income seniors in Palm Beach County with hurricane safety kits.

To be considered for a spot in the finals, a detailed application was submitted that shared the project description, evidence for a need for the project in the community, completed project budget, identified current or potential partners and the impact the project will have in the community. Another new element to the application process required students to submit a short video which allowed the judges to gain a better understanding of the students and their projects. The types of social issues addressed by the selected students include environmental, education and youth development, health and human services and arts and culture initiatives.

The finalists gathered for an initial meeting with the Philanthropist-Investors and coaches on Feb. 3 at Palm Beach Atlantic University and will have five weeks to prepare for the live event scheduled for March 11 at A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach.

The teams will participate in pre-event workshops where they will receive coaching and professional support to craft and deliver a winning presentation. These workshops include pre-competition mentoring from their coaches, made up of volunteers from the local community and Advisors for Philanthropic Impact (API), and professional stage training from Julie Rowe, director of education for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and her team.

Annual sponsors for the second annual Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank event include AB Bernstein, Braman Motorcars, Gunster Law Firm, Otis Elevators, Lennar Foundation and Quantum Foundation. Partners of Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank include the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

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