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Pitch Competition

A Pitch for Change

Submitted on August 5, 2020

In today’s world where uncertainties are prevalent, the worldview of three Georgetown College graduates is crystal clear: there is hope.

Students from the Georgetown College 2020 graduating class from as far as New Zealand recently participated in a local “Pitch Competition” sponsored by Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. (TAI). With just 15 minutes to present an original idea for a community or society improvement, the students competed for up to $2500 and a mentorship opportunity with TAI business leaders to implement their idea.

The winning ideas focused mostly on education and economic development, with each venture promising to give back in some way.

Meet the Winners

Louise Abrams

Louise Abrams
Major: Psychology and Art
Hometown: Paint Lick, Kentucky
Idea for Change: Abrams has plans to open a sticker business, where she will create and sell original designs through an online store and give back a portion of all proceeds to support LGBTQ+ education locally. Her goal is to “make schools safe and welcoming places for gay and lesbian youth, who often face tremendous hostility from their family and community during their formative years.” Abrams will use her awarded budget to purchase design hardware and sticker materials.

Nekya Crowders

Nekya Crowders
Major: International Business & Culture
Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Idea for Change: An avid volunteer and organizer of goods drives for people in need, Crowders plans to start her own non-profit, something she has been saving for over the last four years, to combine traditional charity with education and networking. Her goal is to “put people in the right place with the right people so they can see their potential and have more experience and opportunities.” Crowders, who is trained in coding, will use her award money to start a website. She will also attend an educational conference to hone her expertise in nonprofit business ownership and plans to obtain a 501c3 status.

Philipp Hoeper

Philip Hoeper
Major: Chemistry and Mathematics
Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Idea for Change: After volunteering locally, Hoeper recognized a significant transportation need in underprivileged communities in Georgetown and pitched the idea of starting a car rental service that would lead to driver ownership over time. He says, “a car for someone in a tough situation is like a token of freedom and gives that person options.” His own personal experience as an international student helped form his passion, having worked campus jobs in college to purchase his first vehicle, a 1999 Toyota Camry. Hoeper’s prize is being applied toward a vehicle donation Toyota Tsusho will administer in his honor to a Georgetown, Ky., non-profit to help bridge the transportation gap Hoeper seeks to close. Details on the vehicle donation will be available at a later time.

Leaders Inspired

“The Toyota Tsusho/Georgetown College Pitch Competition shines a light on the incredible gifts young people bring to the table when it comes to creating better, stronger, more inclusive communities,” said Mike Lavender, TAI senior vice president. “Innovative solutions are at the core of what we do at Toyota Tsusho. We’re excited to partner with Georgetown College, and proud to help guide – and learn from – the talented minds here in our community.” 

The contest was hosted at Georgetown College. Judges from throughout the community with expertise in business, IT, publishing, HR and accounting reviewed the pitches, including Georgetown College president, William Jones.

“What a terrific day! Georgetown College enjoys a strong relationship with our local community. It is this relationship, in part, that helps us to provide a championship-level education of the heart and mind,” he said. “We are grateful for Toyota Tsusho’s support of our students and their dreams.”

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