The Sacramento Kings and Golden 1 Center will cede center court Wednesday to 10 promising players who earned top berths in a fast-pitch competition, and there are still tickets for those who want to watch the action.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t read about this competition in the sports pages, it’s probably because it has nothing to do with sports. Wednesday’s event will feature nonprofit leaders delivering their best, brief sales spiel in hopes of winning a piece of $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations.
Scott Moak, an announcer for the Kings and the team’s community impact manager, was a judge at last year’s competition and helped bring the 2017 installment to Golden 1, according to Breanna Cahill, executive director of Social Venture Partners of Sacramento, the organization that runs the event. Last year’s event was held at the University of the Pacific’s Sacramento campus.
“(Moak) said, ‘You know, we ought to have this at Golden 1 Center,” Cahill explained. “So we said, ‘Yeah we ought to.’ He came through with a date. Both Golden 1 Center and the Kings Community foundation are sponsoring the event.”
The competition, known as Fast Pitch, actually began three months ago after 20 nonprofits were selected for coaching and mentoring by 40 of the region’s business leaders. Two coaches worked with each nonprofit leader, diving deeply into their mission, marketing and business strategy. And then, like judges on “The Voice,” each duo worked intensely with their leader to formulate a three-minute pitch that tells their organization’s story and sums up what is needed.
Each nonprofit leader went through several pitch sessions in which their messages and performances were judged, and the list of finalists was winnowed to 10 that include representatives for Sacramento Theatre Company and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Sacramento County. However, 40 or so nonprofits will have booths at the event, which runs 5:30 to 9 p.m, and locals can come and learn about what inspires these organizations without feeling pressured to give, Cahill said.
“They are all past and current Fast Pitch nonprofits,” Cahill said, “so attendees will spend the first hour just interacting with those nonprofits (and) learning more about the organizations that are part of the event.”
The pitch program begins at 6:30 p.m. on a stage set up at center court. “It will be really intimidating for the pitch performers, as you can imagine,” Cahill said. “It’s a really efficient program though. So in an hour-and-10-minute program, 10 nonprofits give their pitches.”
The biggest prize, $10,000 in unrestricted general funds, will be decided by the judges: Christopher Johnson from Rapid Brands Inc.; Kim Tucker of the Impact Foundry; Kate Towson of Women’s Empowerment (and also last year’s overall winner); Eric Solis, managing director of Solis Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors; and Rob Scherer of Dale Carnegie Training.
Audience members, however, will get to vote on handing out a $3,000 prize. Cahill declined to say exactly how this vote will be done.
Several past participants told me that the training and exposure from the competition have helped them find new donors and expand their revenue streams.
Michael Lynch, co-founder of Improve Your Tomorrow, won $8,000 in 2016 with this fast pitch:
“The outcomes for black and brown males are often the same. They leave high school without graduating, suffer with unemployment, commit a crime, and as a result, end up in jail. The majority of them return to communities plagued by high unemployment, violence and a lack of hope. The cycle is a school-to-prison pipeline and often repeats generation after generation. Improve Your Tomorrow, otherwise known as IYT, was created in 2013 to break the school-to-prison pipeline by helping young men of color get to and through college. We currently serve … young men at several schools across the city. The main purpose is to help all these young men get a college degree. … As a student in south Sacramento, I witnessed firsthand the school-to-prison pipeline. I watched all my friends lose hope, lose sight and as a result, lose their freedom. The majority of them had the potential to become college graduates if they’d had the tools they needed.”