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Pitch Your Peers Of Greenwich To Award $30,000 To Local Nonprofit

2016 Grant Champions Monica Huang, Karena Bailey, Steviann Martines and Lisa Getson.
2016 Grant Champions Monica Huang, Karena Bailey, Steviann Martines and Lisa Getson. Photo Credit: contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- A local nonprofit providing counseling, educational programs and advocacy for more than 60 years in Greenwich will be awarded the first ever Pitch Your Peers grant.

Steviann Martines of Pitch Your Peers (PYP) will award Community Centers, Inc. (CCI) with a check for $30,000 at the inaugural grant reception on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich.

"I put a lot of hard work into the pitch, and it paid off. To have my $1,000 turn into $30,000 and for CCI to be the recipient is extremely rewarding" Martines said.

PYP is a new grant-funding organization in Greenwich with a membership of 37 Greenwich women. The organization will fund grants to nonprofits that serve the local community.

Currently the PYP membership is invitation-only and focused on developing a select group of women comprised of an essential mix of working and stay-at-home mothers. The main thread that bonds members is local philanthropy and a few degrees of separation from founding its members: Brooke Bohnsack, Dara Johnson, Nina Lindia and Rachael LeMasters.

Unlike other grant-funding organizations, PYP has no Request for Proposal process. Rather, it is the members who come forward as "Grant Champions" and represent the charity they are passionate about by pitching to the membership.

Grant Champions research a charity and create a sales pitch to be delivered at the annual Pitch Meeting, which this year took place on Oct. 6 at the Greenwich Library. The membership then votes, and the winning Grant Champion is awarded a grant to the non-profit she successfully pitched.

"The PYP process highlights the membership's existing skill set of sales, marketing and public-speaking, all while educating the membership about deserving charities right here in Greenwich" said Bohnsack.

This year's PYP Grant Champions were: Karena Bailey and Julie Karish for B*Cured; Monica Huang for Byram Park Pool Project; Steviann Martines for Community Centers Inc. of Greenwich; and Karina Solomon and Lisa Getson for Kids in Crisis.

After the first Pitch Meeting members have an opportunity to follow up with each Grant Champion and her chosen charity to ask questions, and visit the sites and working projects of the agencies where possible.

"What is special about this process is that our membership became educated about all four projects in a unique, hands-on way. In turn, each charity was given the opportunity to recruit new volunteers and potential funds to their respective causes," Bohnsack said. "The PYP membership voted through an anonymous online survey and we were faced with a tie between Kids in Crisis and CCI."

On Nov. 3, PYP held a second round of voting with CCI emerging at the winner by just one vote.

“Community Centers, Inc. of Greenwich is extremely grateful to be this year’s recipient of the PYP grant. This grant will enhance our ability to raise funds for our programs, create more awareness of our organization, and ultimately increase our impact with respect to counseling, education, recreation and advocacy activities for Greenwich residents in need,” said Community Centers, Inc. Executive Director, Lauren Franciamore, LCSW.

Students from the Advanced Broadcast Journalism class at Sacred Heart Greenwich have been filming the PYP process, interviewing founders and Grant Champions, and created a short video package about PYP.

"We were thrilled to have these aspiring film-makers, under the direction of their visionary teacher, Ellyn Stewart, participate in our Pitch Meeting and we are all looking forward to having them at our first grant award ceremony," said Lindia.

Pitch Your Peers is a 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to engage women in philanthropy and to collectively fund grants to charitable initiatives that serve the Town of Greenwich.

The organization's goal is to identify unmet needs and impact the local community through awarding a deserving not-for-profit with a significant grant on an annual basis. The members of PYP are committed to volunteerism and promoting awareness of local programs that work to better their community. Through education, members are able to make worthy philanthropic choices and meet like-minded women who share their passion and interests.

See the PYP website for more information.

The Innis Arden Golf Club is located at 20 Tomac Ave., Old Greenwich.

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