And the Winners are…

Mar 29, 2017

Fast Pitch 2017 continued its mission to shining a spotlight on philanthropy in the Valley last night with record breaking attendance, sponsorship, number of awards given, and total dollar amount raised.

The night was electric with 720 business and community leaders gathered to celebrate that mission and witness the award of $61K in grants to worthy organizations tackling issues that impact everyone. Alzhiemer’s and Autism. Literacy and financial literacy. Skateboarding and animal rescue. Education, military families, and health and human services. Our nine finalists are tackling some of the most critical problems in our community, making them all winners in our book.

Thanks to a generous $10,000 donation from the S. Rex and Joan T. Lewis Foundation, attendees could donate to any of the 23 nonprofit and student organizations for a dollar-for-dollar match. In less than two hours, more than $15,000 was raised – and the number continues to climb! Donations to any of our worthy organizations may be made through April 7 via the GiveSmart app. Instructions on how to donate are below.

Here’s how the awards were distributed:


  • $25,000 SVP Innovator Award awarded to Labor’s Community Service Agency and Stephen Sparks, who was chosen by a panel of Partners from the SVPAZ network for the innovation and repeatability of the SHIFT program. Stephen and LCSA also receive three years of SVPAZ Partner time and talent to support capacity building.


  • $10,000 Judge’s Choice Award awarded to Kelsey Pinckney, Program Coordinator at Read Better Be Better, who was chosen by the panel of community judges during the showcase event. Judge Jenny Poon, of Co+Hoots proudly announced the award, calling Kelsey a fellow nerd and book-loving sister.
  • $7,500 KIITA Award: In Inuit, KIITA means “Get up and Go!” This year, Jason Moore with Northbridge College Success Program compelled KIITA Foundation members to get up and give them money. DONATION – CHECK!
  • In a surprise, on-the-spot announcement, Partner Amy Armstrong and Next Generation Partner Emily Armstrong donated an additional $2,500 to Ryan Lay with Skate After School.
  • $5,000 Jaburg Wilk “Making Tomorrow Better Today” Award went to Kelsey Pinckney, Program Coordinator at Read Better Be Better, for their work in literacy at the critical third grade level. This is the inaugural award for Jaburg Wilk and Partner Gary Jaburg shared his belief that education and literacy is the foundation of lifelong success, which influenced his selection of RBBB.
  • $2,500 ASU Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Award was awarded to Melanie Isaacs of Pal Experiences for their work in accessibility for children and families with autism.
  • $2,500 People’s Choice Award: After the presenters con­cluded their pitches, the audience texted their votes for Shelia Iyengar of The Nagi Foundation. The Nagi Foundation works with children and animals – a winning combination – as noted by one of the judges last night.
  • $1,500 Don Keuth Mentor’s Choice Award went to Melanie Isaacs of Pal Experiences. She was selected by the 60+ mentors who participated in the program this year. The award is in honor of long-time Fast Pitch mentor and friend of SVPAZ, Don Keuth, who passed away in January.
  • $2,000 Student Innovator Award was awarded to Joshua Smith, an ASU student and CEO of Fortunes Financial. Fortune’s Financial is a software-based education tool that teaches college students how to manage their money.
  • $5,000 Social Enterprise Award was awarded to Jacob Hamman, co-founder of Zenjoi, a social enterprise tackling the quality of life for those inflicted by Alzheimer’s.

SVPAZ congratulates all 25 organizations who participated in the 2017 program. Any of the 23 Fast Pitch Innovators and SVPAZ can receive a dollar-for-dollar match, up to a $10,000 combined total when you donate to one of these amazing organizations. Donations can be made via the GiveSmart app until Friday, April 7.

Here’s how you donate:

Text svpfastpitch (case sensitive) to 24700. You will receive a text with the following message:  “Welcome to the SVPAZ Fast Pitch Competition! To donate to the charity of your choice then please tap [link]. Thank you for your support!”

Tap the link

Register and then tap organization you want to donate to

Enter dollar amount and submit

The Social Enterprise Innovators are not eligible to receive cash donations.

Our Partners put a spotlight on philanthropy 365 days a year. You can see the impact we have at Fast Pitch in a two-month time period. Imagine what transformation takes place with a multi-year engagement. Join us for Breakfast with the Board on April 6, from 8 to 10 a.m. For further information and to r.s.v.p., contact Sentari Minor at

And, Save the Date! Fast Pitch 2018 will be March 21 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.