WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 29, 2014) – Media Rise is pleased to announce the winners of Pitch Night: DreamWakers, SWAT and Accountability Lab. The September 26 event was sponsored by Newsweek, PVBLIC Foundation & Huge to support ideas for how to make the world a better place through meaningful media, art, storytelling, design or technology, scheduled as part of the 2014 Media Rise Festival.
Eleven finalists–ranging from a street artist to a computer scientist–each gave a 3-minute presentation in front of a live audience for the chance to win cash prizes and in-kind media services. They tackled a range of causes, from the negative effects of stereotyping Native Americans to the marginalization of women in science and technology; and a range of media, from mobile applications to online wedding registries.
The Grand Prize of $1,000 and a full-page ad in Newsweek magazine was awarded to Monica Gray and Annie Medaglia, co-founders of DreamWakers, a nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of lower income students by applying classroom content to the real world.
“Our goal is to harness the power of free video technologies like Skype and Google Hangout to bring exceptional career speakers into public school classrooms, inspiring students across America,” Gray said. She and her co-founder said they were inspired by their friends’ and their personal experiences attending public schools.
“Exposure is crucial since we’re such a young organization,” Gray added. “An ad in Newsweek is a dream for us. Our hope is that this will inspire more exceptional career speakers to sign up to join our Career Corps, and more teachers to sign up to utilize our free services.”
The runner-up prize ($500) was awarded to Georgetown University students Brandon Anderson and Joseph Gruenbaum, co-founders of SWAT (Safety With Accountability & Transparency), a mobile application that seeks to build awareness about the militarization of the police force and the lack of evidence in cases of police brutality.
Brandon said he was prompted to build the app after he lost a close high school friend to a fatal incident of police brutality.
“Sharing such a personal story–about the death of my partner–in front a room of strangers that night was one of the most difficult things I’ve done since dropping out of high school and joining the military,” Brandon said. “The winnings will be used to create T-shirts or keychains to give to people who donate to help build the mobile app, once our crowdfunding site is launched. We really need the community’s help building this.”
The People’s Choice Award (voted on by the audience and funded by $430 pooled from a portion of ticket sales) went to Blair Glencorse from Accountability Lab. He pitched an idea to create an “Ebola awareness film school” to educate Liberians about the Ebola virus by teaching them how to create health education narratives. According to Glencorse, many of the local residents are oblivious to the seriousness of Ebola, judging it as a “Western conspiracy.”
“Winning this pitch is huge for us because all of our projects are very low-cost and high-impact, and this money will go a long, long way in Liberia,” Glencorse said. “We intend to use it to help finance four students to attend our film school, to write, direct and produce short films in local languages that can help people understand how to stay safe and fulfill their responsibilities during this crisis.”
The other finalists included:
Gregg Deal – REDSKIN
Clare Fieseler – Scientists with Stories
Jessica Jane Robinson – Resilience Birthright
Kate Glantz – Heartfully
Marcus Noel – Heart of Man Project
Lauren Coaxum – Think Before You Type
Meg Kelly – The Ward Project
Vikram Surya Chiruvolu – TechnoTherapy.org
Pitches were rated on clarity, feasibility, passion and potential for impact.
Dave Moss, director of partnerships at PVBLIC Foundation, served as the host and emcee for the evening. The judges included Pema Levy, Washington correspondent for Newsweek; Kate Watts, managing director at Huge; Dipanwita Das, communications consultant at S M Sehgal Foundation; Dave Gloss, chief instigator at Here’s My Chance; and Clarence Wardell III, founder of Tinygive and the Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 Media Rise Pitch Night.
More than 100 people attended the event, which coincided with a pop-up exhibition “100% Bread,” curated by local arts group No Kings Collective at the historic Wonder Bread Factory in the Shaw neighborhood. Pitch Night was immediately followed by a party, featuring music by DJ Underdog of OkayAfrica, DJ Rat of Maracuyeah and other local talent.