It was standing room only at Sewanee’s first ever community crowdfunding event, Sewanee SOUP, where four teams competed for a cash prize to benefit their respective community-based projects. Presenters included:
Sabeth Jackson and Chris Young with the emerging art collective The Green Space
Lauren Newman, C’18, with Hidden Treasures EcoArt Project to raise awareness about diverting waste from landfills
Margo Shea, Tyler Fishback, Catherine Casselman, Madison Willis, and Dallas Snyder with the local online encyclopedia Around Here: The Places Project
Nora Vinas, C’17, with her mentoring program Franklin County High School DIVAS
A five-dollar ticket gained attendees entrance to the event, a delicious meal, and the opportunity to vote for their favorite project. Proceeds from the ticket sales went into a pot for the team with the most votes. With a maximum capacity of 100 people, tickets for this first event sold out, allowing the community to collectively raise $500 for immediate impact.
Winner Nora Vinas walked away with money in hand to start a scholarship fund for the students in DIVAS (acronym for Dreamer, Independent, Valuable, Accomplished and Strong). As first-generation college student from Florida, Vinas came to Sewanee with a passion to support high school students who would otherwise have difficulty going to college. She founded DIVAS as part of the Bonner Leader Program, and has been mentoring the same group of six young women for the past three years.
Though the other teams didn’t leave with cash, they still gained the valuable opportunity to share their ideas. “The goal of Sewanee SOUP is to encourage conversations across siloed groups in the community,” says Janna McClain, mentor for the Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation (ESI) Club. The club hosted the event. Approximately half of the attendees were students from across the social spectrum at Sewanee. The other half were community members, faculty, and staff of the University.
The ESI Club planned this event to help them fulfill their mission of “igniting a passion to make change,” says club president Adreyauna Lewers, C’16. The organization hopes to help cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in students and community members.
While the ESI Club took the lead in hosting, the event received lots of support from across the community. Alpha Phi Omega, the Babson Center for Global Commerce, the Business House, the Gender and Sexual Diversity House, Hispanic Organization for Latino Awareness, Sewanee Angel Capital Fund, and Sustain Sewanee collaborated with ESI to sell tickets. The local businesses who donated food and supplies include IvyWild, Sewanee Dining, the Blue Chair, Julia’s, Natural Bridge, and the Bread Peddler.