Social Innovation Pitch Night

Thanks for joining us tonight for our Social Innovation Pitch Night, sponsored by General Shale, TVA, WJHL, City of Johnson City, FoundersForge & Johnson City Brewing!

Tap to expand any of the sections below.

Live Voting

Live voting will not take place until all 6 organizations have pitched their program.

Any premature voting will not be counted in the final results.

2023 Problem Solving Pitches - Live Voting!

Please vote for 3 programs to receive $10,000 grants(Required)

Social Innovation Judges

Sonu MirchandaniSonu brings competencies in evaluating startup business models, eco-system partners and proforma financial assessments. With a background in product marketing and business development, he has helped startups and growth organizations with idea incubation, market development and makes early-stage investments across retail, healthcare, biotechnology, food & beverage, loyalty, and supply chain. In conjunction with his ETSU responsibilities, he provides small businesses and non-profits with go-to-market consulting assistance. 

Kristie Hammonds – ristie Hammonds, BSW, MBA is the President and CEO of Frontier Health. With years of experience in a variety of health care services, Hammonds brings a unique perspective on both clinical and community-based programs. Her personal passion is to see that anyone struggling with addiction or a mental health need would feel safe reaching out for help.

Jessica Wang – Jessie Wang serves as the Assistant Dean of Equity, Inclusion, and Student Success at Clemmer College.  Wang holds a bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Emmanuel College and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Harvard University.  While at Harvard, Wang’s research focused on fostering historically underrepresented student success at predominantly white institutions of higher education.  Wang joined the ETSU community in July of 2020 where she has served as an advocate for cultivating equitable student success outcomes and inclusive learning environments.

TN Afterschool Network Judges

Jennifer Dixon – Jennifer serves as the ‘Head of Happiness’ at Smarty Pants, a research and strategic consulting firm. She leads critical functions including recruitment, benefits management, professional development, onboarding, and long-term happiness. Prior to joining Smarty Pants in 2017, she spent more than a decade in business and operations roles within a local private medical practice. Jennifer has also served on the board of directors and/or councils for multiple community-based nonprofits in our area.

Dr. Sam Pettyjohn – Sam is Research Assistant Professor who obtain his DrPH (Doctor of Public Health) from ETSU. His research interests and experience focus harm reduction, state and national opioid use disorder policy, and opioid use disorder co-morbidities including homelessness, HIV, HVC, stigma, and poly-substance use. He provides expertise in dynamic system modeling, community-based participatory research, and health literacy. During his doctoral training, he worked on a team that received an RDC Major funding award from ETSU to develop a dynamic system model of opioid overdose among people in active recovery.

Kim Schlager – Kim serves as the Community Outreach Coordinator for United Way of East TN Highlands. She works directly with United Ways of Tennessee on an ongoing basis regarding TAN (Tennessee Afterschool Network) funding. In addition to her work with TAN, she works closely with local nonprofit and business leaders throughout Carter County to stregthen the impact of our United Way, while also working to obtain grant funding for the organization. Kim and her husband are co-owners of the opened Hellbender Outfitters in Downtown Elizabethton.

Tonight's Pitches

Appalachian Opportunity Fund – CRM Software Initiative

AOF seeks funding for implementation of a new CRM software solution. With significant new growth initiatives underway and an ever-increasing pool of clients, now is the time for AOF to achieve scalability. Comprehensive software will improve communications between AOF coaches and financial coaching clients, thus boosting coaching outcomes, improving client experience, increasing coach efficiency, and improving reporting accuracy. The right software product or suite will empower AOF coaches and their clients with improved communications and streamlined data management and impact reporting

Elizabethton Senior Center – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren is not only a support group sponsored by the Elizabethton Senior Center, but a place of collaboration and resource connection. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren began this past fall and is meeting monthly at the Elizabethton Senior Center. The center partners with First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging, UT Extension, and the Elizabethton Public Library. The group is composed of grand-families, school systems, and agencies that can offer needed resources to our seniors.

Language & Culture Resource Center (ETSU)

Our idea is to purchase Chrome books for the Latinx population, provide technology training, through a partnership with the ETSU College of Business and Technology, and then conduct workshops over Zoom on healthcare, through another partnership with the ETSU College of Public Health. The LCRC will provide interpretations and translations for both the technology training and for the healthcare workshops. We will also create two internet hubs, one in the Saint Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church in Elizabethton, and another at the Langston Centre in Johnson City. 

The Salvation Army of Johnson City – Cafe Hope 

The Salvation Army, Johnson City is opening Café Hope, a community resource center across the street from our Charles O. Gordon Center of Hope emergency shelter. We are seeking funding to purchase laptops and tablets that will make up a new mobile technology hub. The hub will ensure that devices are available for case manager to use in assisting clients with tasks like applying for employment and other benefits, searching for housing, and accessing ongoing educational resources.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast TN – Head Start 2 Health

Second Harvest is partnering in a new way with 60 pre-K Head Start classrooms across northeast Tennessee to bring nutritious foods to more than 1,000 children and families for improved nutrition and vital cognitive development. Food Bank staff set up farmers market simulations in Head Start classrooms with colorful vegetables and fruits from around the world. Staff engage children in healthy eating habits through trying new things, and children select  pounds of fresh produce to take home. Families with children at Head Starts can then enroll for a new app technology the food bank is piloting, to order ahead for emergency food needs.

Unity Housing of Johnson City – Critical Time Intervention: City Wide Service Provider Training

Unity Housing will provide Critical Time Intervention (CTI) training to service agencies in Washington County that interact with chronically homeless individuals regularly. CTI is a time-limited evidence-based practice centered on stabilizing any community’s most vulnerable individuals by mobilizing support from various agencies and facilitating community integration and continuity of care. By ensuring each person solidifies ties to community and service support systems, individuals are better equipped to maintain stability during critical periods. 


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