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PitchBlack Columbus Grants Over $7k, Returns for Round Two on Sunday

Anne Evans Anne Evans PitchBlack Columbus Grants Over $7k, Returns for Round Two on SundayOrganizers of PitchBlack Columbus with the presenters from the first event. Photo provided.
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If there are business or creative ideas in your community in need of funding, would you be willing to support them? With the success of the first PitchBlack Columbus event in April, many decided that yes, yes they would.

That first event raised and granted $7,737.28 to five different Black-led creative and business ideas and the event is back on Sunday, June 27th to do it again.

“I’ve had the idea for [PitchBlack] a couple of years now, maybe a little longer,” says PitchBlack organizer Marshall L. Shorts. “Being an entrepreneur, I was grappling with what it means to support Black businesses and Black-led projects in a more meaningful and intentional way while leveraging community support.”

The idea found more steam when Shorts discovered, and participated in, Columbus SOUP. Started in December of 2012, Columbus SOUP was a philanthropic crowd-funding organization. Community members would donate a minimum of $7 to come together for a meal of soup and bread, listen to pitches, then vote for their favorite project. The low price point allowed philanthropy to be accessible to anyone.

SOUP ended after twenty-three events and wrapped up their run in February of 2020. The group celebrated seven years of micro grants, with over $60,000 supporting projects making impacts on our local community.

“SOUP was really inspirational but I was disheartened that most of the people in the audience did not look like me,” says Shorts. “I felt if given the opportunity and space, the Black community would show up and support. I also knew the broader community would see the value in supporting Black-Led projects as well.”

PitchBlack Columbus borrows some aspects of SOUP’s model, with the primary criteria focusing on ideas and projects that reach further than the individual who is pitching.

“There will always be a question of how this benefits our community at large,” he says.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin learned about the project and sponsored ordinance 0854-2021 in April 2021 to provide $15,000 from the City of Columbus’ general fund. The dollars will support four PitchBlack events.

“Those dollars allowed us to boost the grand prize and also ensure that no one walks away empty-handed,” says Shorts.

PitchBlack builds on the fourth principle of Kwanzaa: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). Essentially, Ujamaa is a commitment to the practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it.

Donations from the first round of PitchBlack Columbus supported the following:

Cooperative Chess Community Center: $6,237.28
Nourish Our Community!: $450
About-Face: $350
Knailing the Pitch While Drinking your Juice in the Hood Presenter: $350
Ampe Study; or Leap into the Sky, Black Girl Presenter: $350

PitchBlack is presented by Shorts’ creative agency Artfluential in collaboration with Maroon Arts Group and the Deliver Black Dreams project. Columbus SOUP helped kickstart the first event.

The upcoming PitchBlack Columbus will be a live event at the MPACC Box Park on Sunday, June 27 at 6pm. Tickets/donations start at $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite.

For more information and to see the presenters for Sunday’s event, visit PitchBlackColumbus.com.

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