Nonprofits prepare for accelerator program’s final pitch event

Above: The SVP Full Circle Spring 2019 Cohort and SVP Partners during a happy hour and networking event in May at the Millvale Food + Energy Hub.

While they embody different missions, the common thread amongst the SVP Full Circle Spring 2019 Cohort is a common one for those who work in not-for-profit organizations.

“With nonprofit work you think big and want to save the world on a zero dollar budget,” said Jackie Smith, executive director of Greater Valley Community Services. “And [the coaches] keep it in perspective.”

Social Venture Partners Full Circle is a 14-week accelerator program that combines consulting, workshops, seminars, networking and a final pitch event that will take place on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave.

Meant for nonprofits that are at a critical juncture regarding their organizations future development, the program looks for applicants that are committed to achieving measurable outcomes and ready to expand and grow their impact.

The coaches that Smith referred to, also known as SVP Partners, are individuals engaged within the nonprofit community that are able to contribute their time and energy to furthering the advancement of the selected nonprofits chosen to participate in the program.

“The Full Circle Program is an incredible opportunity for nonprofit leaders and SVP Partners from the corporate sector to work collectively to improve internal operations and develop strategies for growth,” said Leigh Solomon Pugliano, Full Circle manager and director of opportunity at New Sun Rising. “It also provides greater insight to the corporate sector, the issues our communities are facing, and the incredible work our nonprofits do to make change.”

The program is held in the fall and spring, and accepts a total of five nonprofits each season. Recently, four out of the five organizations gathered for a happy hour event at the Millvale Food + Energy Hub to network and practice for the final pitch event on June 26. During the event, individuals shared their nonprofits history and the key areas they have been working on within the program. Those organizations included:

Greater Valley Community Services

Based in Braddock, Greater Valley Community Services was created to strengthen and hold S.P.A.C.E (supportive programs affording collaborative engagement) for youth, adults, and seniors in the community. Executive Director Jackie Smith said that recently there has been a disconnect between residents and the businesses coming into the neighborhood, especially with youth, and when she read the description for the Full Circle program felt that the fit them perfectly.

“We’ve been stuck in a place and thought this might be the boost that we needed for the program that we wanted to work on,” Smith said.

Partnering with the Woodland Hills School District and entrepreneurs in the community, GVCS plans to create a program that will connect high school students to small business owners who will work together to create marketing plans, websites, and eventually apps for the neighborhood businesses. Smith said the SVP coaches have been instrumental in understanding the best ways to engage both students and businesses, and in deciding how classes will be structured for students in the program.

Unity Through Creativity

The Grounding Lab, a program under Unity Through Creativity, is situated in Hazelwood and uses arts infused techniques to assist people experiencing despair and enhance their emotional coping skills through contemplative process of deep self-reflection. With 40 years of nursing experience and research, Creative Director Margaret Baco said she has developed the understanding that true healing from traumatic experiences can come from engaging in expressive arts.

Baco said the SVP coaches have helped her focus on creating a community strategy, program development, strategic thinking, and networking. Specifically, she said she has appreciated the connections between those in the program.

“We are attracting one another during this dynamic process and New Sun Rising is able to see how networking through this cohort can strengthens our capacity to function,” Baco said. “It’s an outcome that I am deeply grateful for.”

Legacy Arts Project

In 2005, Erin Perry became a member of the dance ensemble at Legacy Arts Project, an organization focused on preserving the history and traditions of African arts as represented throughout the diaspora through education, instruction and interactions. In 2011, Perry became the executive director and has continued to expand the vision and grow the organization. She said Legacy Arts Project is “not only the exploration of African art, but also the exploration of self and well being.

Perry said joining the Full Circle program has provided guidance on fiscal sponsorships and marketing, and has also “rejuvenated” the nonprofits outlook around its programming and impact it has made in the Homewood community.

“If we were to have a personality assessment of our organization, [I’d say] we are humble,” Perry said. “At the same time we haven’t done a full service to the organization in promoting the work we do or have done, and the coaches have allowed us to recognize humility and pride in the power that has been going on and motivated us to tell the story.”

Coraopolis Community Development Foundation

The Coraopolis Community Development Foundation was formed to serve its community by encouraging and assisting in renewal through community service and development projects, and Executive Director Amy Cavicchia said if she asks someone to volunteer, it’s because it’s something she’s also going to do herself.

Cavicchia has been easing in to her position at the nonprofit over the last two years and said her work with the Full Circle program has been focused on her elevator pitch and donor management.

“This program has really kept me focused and realizing what you can do and what you can’t do.” Cavicchia said. “Write it down, figure it out, do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t do, because you can’t do it.”

Associated Artists Pittsburgh

Associated Artists Pittsburgh was unavailable during the event. Their mission is to enhance the region’s cultural vitality and promote visual arts excellence by showcasing artists’ work through contemporary exhibitions, providing community-based education programs, and facilitating a broad dialogue to engage artists with one another and the community.

Impact takes Center Stage at the Full Circle Pitch Event!

Social Venture Partners (SVP) Pittsburgh invites you to join us for our Final Pitch Event on June 26th! This event concludes our spring 2019 Full Circle Nonprofit Accelerator Program. Come learn more about our program, network with Pittsburgh’s social impact community, connect with our SVP Partners, and meet the incredible organizations and leaders that participated in the program. This years participants include: Greater Valley Community ServicesAssociated Artists of PittsburghCoraoplis Community Development FoundationUnity Through Creativity, and Legacy Arts Project. We hope to see you there!

Full Circle Final Pitch
Wednesday, June 26th
5:30pm – 8:00pm
Energy Innovation Center
*Complimentary food and drinks will be served!

Register Here

SVP Full Circle Seeks Applicants for Spring Accelerator Cohort

Through a competitive application process, a cohort of five innovative nonprofits will be selected to engage in an intensive 14-week accelerator program that combines consulting, workshops, seminars, networking and pitch event. The program is designed to grow their impact and financial sustainability. SVP Full Circle manages both a fall and spring cohort to work with a total of 10 nonprofits annually. During each cohort the five nonprofits in Full Circle, are each matched with teams of SVP Partners who serve as coaches. During the accelerator coaches work hands-on with each nonprofit throughout the program. SVP Partners are integral to the Full Circle accelerator model. Their coaching complements the accelerator curriculum by adding a layer of support to the nonprofits in the form of advanced social capital, new ideas, knowledge capital, skills-based human capital and private sector financial capital.

Nonprofits that successfully complete the program also receive $3000 unrestricted award. For more information about the program. Join us for an info session or contact leigh@svppittsburgh for more information.


Info Session Dates

Monday February 11th from 6-7pm

Wednesday February 27th 1-2pm

Register for an Info Session

Complete your Application Now


Eligibility Criteria

  • Organizations that apply must be designated as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations operating in Allegheny County or have a Fiscal Sponsor
  • Organizations that apply must designate at least two leadership staff who will participate consistently throughout the duration of the 14 week Full Circle program.
  • Organizations, if selected, will be asked to submit their most recent annual report and/or year-end financial statements.


About SVP Pittsburgh

SVP Pittsburgh is a network of engaged philanthropists from the private sector (SVP Partners) who contribute their expertise, skills, networks and finances to grow the impact of nonprofits and tackle our community’s greatest challenges.

SVP Full Circle Program Partners with New Sun Rising to Accelerate Non-profit Impact

October 8, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA – Social Venture Partners (SVP) Pittsburgh has partnered with New Sun Rising to manage operations of their core program, the Full Circle Nonprofit Impact Accelerator.  The program provides support for the region’s most innovative nonprofits through engaged philanthropy, where SVP Partners contribute their expertise, skills, networks, and finances to help tackle our community’s greatest challenges.

Starting with the Fall 2018 cohort, management of the SVP Full Circle program will officially transition to New Sun Rising. The two organizations have worked together to empower nonprofit sustainability and innovation since their first workshop together in 2015.

Leigh Solomon Pugliano, SVP Full Circle Program Manager and New Sun Rising’s Director of Opportunity, says, “I am very excited to manage the Full Circle program.  New Sun Rising will provide an additional layer of support to SVP and the nonprofits they support. We hope to increase the awareness and accessibility of the program, as well as connect networks of communities and organizations that may otherwise be operating in silos. ”

Each Fall and Spring, a Full Circle cohort accelerates five nonprofits through an intensive 14-week program of workshops, seminars, networking, and pitch events. Participants are paired with teams of SVP Partners, who are private sector leaders serving as executive coaches and working directly with them throughout the program.

Cynthia Closkey, an SVP Partner and chair of the organization’s board, says, “SVP is working to help nonprofits in our region increase their effectiveness and capacity, so they in turn can help people in a range of ways in the community. Each SVP Partner has the chance to engage with the nonprofits they coach, and with all the nonprofits we work with. It’s a focused, intensive opportunity to make significant impact on the problems that matter most. I find it the most rewarding way possible to give back.”

The current Full Circle cohort kicked off on September 22nd during a workshop at Ascender and includes Neighborhood Legal Services Association, No Crayon Left Behind, Orenda Health, Providence Connections, and Ruth’s Way. The public is invited to learn more about the mission and impact of these organizations during a pitch event on December 12th. More details will be announced soon.

For more details on how to become an SVP Partner, upcoming opportunities to accelerate your nonprofit, or to financially support Full Circle, please email


About Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh

Social Venture Partners (SVP) Pittsburgh is a community of engaged philanthropists who contribute their expertise, skills, networks and finances to grow the impact of nonprofits and tackle our community’s greatest challenges. SVP Pittsburgh’s core program is the Full Circle impact accelerator, which connects SVP Partners as executive coaches to accelerate the impact of Pittsburgh’s most innovative nonprofits. For more information, visit

About New Sun Rising

New Sun Rising  (NSR) is an innovative 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to build vibrant communities through culture, sustainability and opportunity. NSR provides programs and services that create equitable opportunity, solve social challenges, and strengthen the vibrancy of place. Each year, over 150  individuals, organizations, and funders work with NSR to launch their nonprofit projects, social businesses, and economic development initiatives throughout the Greater Pittsburgh region. For more information, visit


Leigh Solomon Pugliano, Full Circle Manager,

Scott Wolovich, Executive Director, New Sun Rising,

Full Circle Impact Accelerator Spring Pitch Event is a Wrap!

It was a wonderful evening! On Thursday, June 28th Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh held its Pitch Event for the 5 amazing nonprofits in the spring Full Circle Impact Accelerator cohort. The event was hosted at BNY’s Innovation Center and more than 110 social impact professionals enjoyed an evening of presentations from 5 innovative and inspiring nonprofits creating next-level social impact in Pittsburgh. All Star Code, Refugee Resettlement at NAMS, PA Youth Initiative, Assemble and Veterans Breakfast Club all presented to judges and more than 110 supportive socially conscious professionals from around the city. The night was a great success, CONGRATULATIONS Assemble!

Announcing the Full Circle Impact Accelerator 2018 Spring Cohort

Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh


Five innovative Pittsburgh-based innovative nonprofits have been selected for the Full Circle Impact Accelerator 2018 spring cohort.

Pittsburgh, PA: Yesterday, SVP Full Circle, one of the country’s leading accelerators dedicated exclusively to scaling the impact of innovative nonprofit businesses, announced the five organizations selected for their 2018 spring cohort. The five nonprofits selected for the spring accelerator cohort include:

  • Assemble is one of the first maker spaces in Pittsburgh that blends tech and STEAM programming for youth from underrepresented backgrounds with community and economic development. They are coming to Full Circle to figure out how to take their successful organization to the next level of impact.
  • AllStarCode offers black and latino young men mentorship and intensive coding/computer science programming to help them build successful career paths in technology. ASC, first founded in NYC, is relatively new to Pittsburgh and growing fast. They came to Full Circle to help determine the best way to expand their program and become a model for future cities.
  • Northern Area Multi-Service Center’s Refugee Resettlement Office is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the Pittsburgh region. NAMS Refugee Resettlement program came to Full Circle looking to determine how they can inject innovation into their work and better tell the story of their impact.
  • Pennsylvania Youth Initiative is a new nonprofit that has created unique curriculum and multifaceted programming to help young people with disabilities train to enter the workforce, particularly the emerging innovation economy in the region. PYI came to Full Circle in the midst of rapid growth and is looking to understand how they can responsibly scale their programming to impact more young people in the region and beyond.
  • Veterans Breakfast Club creates communities of understanding and support for veterans as well as civilians. VBC came to SVP because they are on a rapid growth track and are looking to determine a strong business model for their future as well as the marketing and branding they need in order to better communicate the breadth of their activities and impact.

Over the next 14 weeks, the Full Circle nonprofits will engage in an intensive accelerator curriculum dedicated to scaling their organization’s impact. In addition to engaging in accelerator curriculum, each Full Circle nonprofit is paired with a team of seven next generation philanthropists – called SVP Partners – who serve as coaches working hands-on with each organization to overcome the key challenges that are holding them back from scaled impact. SVP Partners are leading socially conscious professional from the private sector who seek a hands-on investment and more engaged approach to philanthropy.

Through the Full Circle Impact Accelerator, each nonprofit will receive more than 250 hours of private sector coaching support as well as $3,000 in financial support from SVP. The spring Full Circle program will culminate in a pitch event on June 28 where each nonprofit from the spring cohort will pitch their work and impact to a public audience and compete for additional cash prizes. Keep updated with all the latest from SVP and the Full Circle Impact Accelerator on Twitter (@SVPPGH).

Our Sponsors: SVP Pittsburgh’s Full Circle Impact Accelerator for Nonprofits is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors and foundation supporters. SVP recognizes annual sponsor UPMC/UPMC Health Plan as well as our Silver – Innovation Sponsor Hefren-Tillotson for their sponsorship and commitment to seeing a more impactful and innovative nonprofit community in the Pittsburgh region. We also want to thank The Grable Foundation for their ongoing support to nonprofit acceleration and cultivating a community of engaged philanthropists. Finally, we want to thank our venue host, Ascender, for providing outstanding event and meeting space for the Full Circle accelerator program.




















About SVP Pittsburgh: Social Venture Partners (SVP) Pittsburgh is a growing community of engaged philanthropists who contribute their expertise, skills, networks and finances to grow the impact of nonprofits and tackle our community’s greatest challenges. SVP Pittsburgh’s core program is the Full Circle impact accelerator, which connects SVP Partners as executive coaches to accelerate the impact of Pittsburgh’s most innovative nonprofits. Interested in learning more? Contact Full Circle Managers Ryan Gayman ( and Benjamin Utter (

SVP Full Circle Impact Accelerator 2017 Fall Pitch Event

On Thursday, December 14 the five organizations that engaged in the fall cohort SVP’s Full Circle impact accelerator pitched their impact to an audience of nearly 100 nonprofit leaders, foundation leaders, entrepreneurs and SVP Partners.

Congratulations to Brandi from the Alliance for Police Accountability, Alaa from The Global Switchboard, LaKeisha from Ujamaa Collective, Jordon from Never Fear Being Different and Erin and Louise from Prototype PGH for their dynamic pitches.

Each Full Circle nonprofit will receive $2,000 for their engagement in the program. A big congratulations goes to Jordon and Team NFBD for taking home the $500 audience choice award. And a big congratulations also to Lakeisha + Team Ujamaa Collective as well as Erin & Louise + Team Prototype PGH for being awarded $500 each from NexTier Bank – our Marquee Pitch Event Sponsor.

Following their participation in the program, Full Circle alumni nonprofits receive ongoing advising and support from SVP.

Marquee Event Sponsor

SVP Pittsburgh would like to thank and recognize the generous support of our Marquee Sponsor whose contribution enabled the success of the 2017 Fall Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event.

Event Host

SVP Pittsburgh would like to thank and recognize Google Pittsburgh for generously hosting the 2017 Fall Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event at their beautiful auditorium.

Event Sponsors

SVP Pittsburgh would like to thank and recognize our event sponsors whose collective contribution ensure that the 2017 Fall Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event was SVP’s most impactful event to date.

Media Sponsor

SVP Pittsburgh would like to thank and recognize Anthem Productions for serving as our Media Sponsor and for covering the 2017 Fall Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event.

Annual Sponsor

SVP Pittsburgh would like to thank and recognize UPMC/UPMC Health Plan for their generous ongoing support that helps power the Full Circle Impact Accelerator programming year-round.

SVP Featured in Popular I <3 Pittsburgh Blog

2 Women-Focused Organization Awarded At Nonprofit Accelerator Event

By Ben Wonderful / I <3 Pittsburgh

Two women-focused nonprofits were awarded $500 each at December 15th’s Social Venture Partners’ Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event. The event, held at Google Pittsburgh’s HQ, was a culmination of a fourteen-week accelerator program from Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh, a philanthropic grantmaking organization based on the venture capital model.

The night’s $500 recipients were Ujamaa Collective and Prototype PGH. Ujamaa Collective invests in the economic and social growth of Africana women entrepreneurs and artisans through a boutique in the Hill District and Prototype PGH operates a North Oakland maker-space and offers maker educational programming focused on equity and feminism.

At the event, five nonprofits presented information about their organization to three judges and to a packed room full 170+ people. Pitching in addition to the two $500 recipients, were the Alliance for Police Accountability, the Global Switchboard, and New Fear Being Different. The night’s judges were Ilana Diamond, Managing Director of AlphaLab Gear, Mike Capsambelis, Product Management at Google, and Karen Brackett, Vice President at NexTier Bank, the marquee sponsor for the event.

The participating nonprofits also competed for an ‘audience favorite’ award. This prize, also for $500, was awarded to New Fear Being Different, a media platform that uses inspirational and entertaining content to shed light on social issues and connect people.

Those that didn’t receive a $500 award were also supported. Each nonprofit received $2,000 for completing the Full Circle Impact Accelerator program, which was sponsored by UPMC/UPMC Health Plan. Also, an additional $2,600 was separately pledged by the night’s audience and spread across all the organization that pitched at the event. In total, $14,000+ in direct contributions were made to the five nonprofits.

Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh’s’ Full Circle Impact Accelerator is managed by the Social Impact business development firm, CitizenCity, and its principals Ryan Gayman and Benjamin Utter. To learn more about the Social Venture Partners and its programs visit,

Click here to view the original publication of this article in I <3 Pittsburgh.

SVP Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event in NEXT Pittsburgh!

See who won at Social Venture Partners’ pitch event

Article by Caroline Shannon-Karasik / Photo by Tracy Certo / NEXT Pittsburgh

In August, Jordon Rooney stood in the streets of Charlottesville, interviewing people who were marching to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. As Neo-Nazis and white supremacists streamed by waving Confederate flags, with swastikas emblazoned on shields and t-shirts, Rooney captured it all on video.“What do you think about those people who got hit?” Rooney asked one man, referring to the car that struck a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 other people.

The man shrugged his shoulders. “They deserved it.”Rooney is not a journalist, he notes. “I’m looking to make a statement and stand up to racism.”

One week, nine million views and 100,000 shares later, that video put Rooney’s organization, Never Fear Being Different(NFBD), on the map. Rooney had been disillusioned with social media and it’s enormous and often negative effect on youth. So he made it a goal to reach youth through social media in a more positive way, engaging viewers to come up with solutions to big societal problems.

His message resonated not only with viewers but also with the crowd last Thursday at the SVP Pittsburgh Full Circle Impact Accelerator Pitch Event. Rooney was one of five who made a pitch for his nonprofit and he won the audience choice prize of $500.

Involvement in the Full Circle Accelerator automatically grants each of the five organizations $2,000 in unrestricted funding.

This year, it also afforded an opportunity to get an additional $1,000 from sponsor NexTier Bank at the Pitch Event. That award was split between two nonprofits that pitched at the event: Prototype PGH and Ujamaa.

The other two organizations pitching at the event were The Global Switchboard and Alliance for Police Accountability. (More on what all of these organizations do is below.)

“Ujamaa Collective’s participation in the Full Circle Program truly was right on time for us because we were at the precipice of making some really important decisions as a nonprofit,” Executive Director LaKeisha Wolf said of the organization’s 10-year presence in Pittsburgh.

Wolf said their goal for 2018 is to close their Hill District boutique space and create a schedule of pop-up shopping locations and programs.

“The boutique has been so much of our identity and means so much to so many people, but the rising overhead costs, as well as a few other factors, was stifling our growth,” she said.

“We are truly passionate about fair trade and are looking to strengthen our economic relationships with international artisans, connecting women with purpose across the world. Ultimately we want to do all of these things in order to increase women’s confidence and skills so that we take up more space in tech and entrepreneurship,” she added.

Erin Gatz of Prototype PGH said the organization’s top goals include hiring their first staff person, finalizing their 501c3 status, which includes on-boarding their first board of directors and partnering with more organizations, like Ujamaa, on workshops and programming.

The Pitch Event was the culmination of an intense, three-and-a-half-month program to help nonprofits like NFBD refine their missions and learn how to meet specific goals within their organizations through coaching by SVP partners.

According to Ryan Gayman, who co-manages the Full Circle program with Ben Utter, the Full Circle accelerator presents a hands-on model for philanthropy that unlocks the private sector’s social networks, skills and expertise to help take nonprofits to the next level. Essentially, they act as a connector.

“Pittsburgh is the birthplace of American philanthropy,” Gayman said. “With the concentration of philanthropic foundations, labor unions, nonprofits and impact-driven businesses in the region, it’s important that there is an accelerator that is exclusively focused on bridging sectors to ultimately help the leading nonprofit businesses have a greater impact in tackling our region’s most critical challenges.”

Here is more information about the five nonprofit organizations involved in the Full Circle Impact Accelerator and who pitched at the event:

Alliance for Police Accountability: A grassroots organization dedicated to criminal justice reform. Brandi Fisher presented at the event and said the group takes a holistic approach, not only advocating for change, but working to educate the public and push for policy change, specifically within the disciplinary systems at schools where simple infractions like “child was disruptive in class” can lead to jail time.

The Global Switchboard: The region’s hub for global issues, the organization is designing an innovative initiative that will bring leaders from across sectors together to tackle critical global issues facing local communities in Pittsburgh that will result in a more equitable and just city. Their mission according to Program Coordinator Alaa Mohamed: “To make Pittsburgh the most livable city for all.”

NFBD: Described as a movement to create solution-based conversations around real-world issues, NFBD had 16 million views in September, compared to TED’s 7.9 million and NPR’s 5.9 million.

Prototype PGH: Is the nation’s only maker space and maker education program that focuses on feminism and equity. The organization is expanding their operations in Pittsburgh to accelerate the growth of a more inclusive and equitable maker movement in the region and beyond. “It took founding a maker space with Louise [Larson] to learn how to use a power drill — and she’s the one who taught me,” Erin Gatz said during the pitch.

Ujamaa Collective: The organization works to break down barriers to help Pittsburgh’s Africana women entrepreneurs and artisans find success within their businesses. Colorful sun hatscopper leather bracelets and handmade mini tumblers are just a few of the items shoppers can purchase at Ujamaa.

Click here to view the original publication of this article.