Second Harvest Food Bank wins Pitch It! _lowres

Photo provided by Second Harvest - Gina Melita made the winning pitch on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank to take the top prize at the Pitch It! Innovation Challenge.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana won $25,000 at Pitch It!, the Innovation Challenge recently held at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The three finalists who presented their pitches were selected from a pool of nearly 30 applicants who submitted a diverse range of innovative ideas to address many vital community needs.

Second Harvest’s winning idea, presented by director of the Second Harvest Community Kitchen Gina Melita, is to transform hunger through aquaponics hot spots to grow organic and sustainably cultivated food for hungry, distressed communities.

The second-place prize, worth $7,500, was awarded to VIA LINK for “Y Texting,” an idea to help young people in crisis access assistance within their comfort zone: texting.

The third-place prize, worth $5,000, was awarded to New Orleans Kids Partnership for an idea to create an interactive online platform, “Louisiana Mentor Match,” that would increase the number, strengthen the quality and enhance the impact of adult-youth mentoring relationships.

“All three winning ideas demonstrate the ingenuity and innovation which abounds in the nonprofit sector in the region,” said Joann Ricci, vice president of Organizational Effectiveness at the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

This year’s judges were Sakari Morrison, manager of policy, government and public affairs at Chevron; Earl Robinson, president of PowerMoves.NOLA; Michael Shaw, program officer for human services at the Kresge Foundation; and Matt Wisdom, co-founder and CEO of TurboSquid. Jeanne Bell, CEO of CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, spoke about innovation in nonprofits during her keynote speech.

Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge, a project of the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness initiative in partnership with The Kresge Foundation and Chevron, supports breakthrough ideas in the nonprofit field by encouraging nonprofits to think outside the box to discover new and innovative ways to address community needs.