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PHASTAR wins bigBANG! 2020, SVP’s Showcase of Social Change and Innovation

Posted by cleveland

Local nonprofit, PHASTAR, was selected by the audience as the winner of the Most Persuasive Pitch at Social Venture Partners’ (SVP’s) 7th bigBANG! Fast Pitch event on Thursday, February 27, 2020. PHASTAR’s Co-founder, President, and CEO, D. Andrew Ferguson, won SVP’s top cash prize of $2,500 in addition to their $1,000 cash prize awarded to all four local nonprofits — BigHearted Blooms, Kinnect, PHASTAR, and Refresh Collective — for their time and commitment to SVP’s two-month pitch process.

bigBANG! provides a forum for Northeast Ohio nonprofits to pitch their socially innovative work and recruit volunteers and donors. The SVP program includes two months of individualized Fast Pitch coaching; a cash award of $1000; a professional video of their pitch; a professional photo; the opportunity to share their story on stage in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and representatives from nonprofits and businesses; and more. SVP is a philanthropic venture fund that strengthens nonprofit organizations in Northeast, Ohio.

This year, SVP partnered with Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC) to include bigBANG! as a new nonprofit track to Accelerate 2020: Citizens Make Change—CLC’s pitch competition where Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs compete to win seed money to help launch their ideas. This year’s Accelerate 2020 attendance exceeded 600 attendees. The evening culminated with the six entrepreneur-track finalists contending for the Accelerate 2020 grand-prize purse. As part of the grand finale, bigBANG! Most Persuasive Pitch Winner, D. Andrew Ferguson, once again had the opportunity to share his winning pitch about PHASTAR—this time before an audience of hundreds.

About the bigBANG! two-month program D. Andrew Ferguson says, “I have not stopped talking about the experience and other presenters since we started this adventure. The Fast Pitch coaches provided meaningful guidance on how to strategically present our organizations. Even though we were competing, it allowed the four presenters to support each other as we face similar nonprofit challenges. bigBANG! also introduced people to the leadership of our organizations. It was the first time I explored who I am as a leader and founder and really delved into communicating my drive in developing PHASTAR.”

SVP’s Executive Director, Hilary Sparks-Roberts, noted the unique power of bigBANG! which “highlights nonprofits who combine innovation and social change, who work on the frontlines of their communities, and who understand the challenges facing those communities better than anyone!”

Joining Hilary Sparks-Roberts on stage at bigBANG! were SVP board president, Evan Ishida, and New Agrarian Center and City Fresh Executive Director, Nick Swetye. Nick Swetye returned to bigBANG! as a guest speaker, six years after winning the Most Persuasive Pitch at bigBANG! 2014. SVP Partners later worked collaboratively with City Fresh for a three-year Investee engagement.

Support for the event was provided by Suzanne and Barry Doggett, Cyndy Dunn, Reneris (executive coaching for nonprofits), Kevin T. Roberts, Esq., as well as an anonymous SVP Partner and SVP alum.  In addition, Business Volunteers Unlimited offered a certificate for a free workshop for all four finalists.


PHASTAR is a Northeast Ohio-based nonprofit corporation born out of a vision to improve the quality of education and public services in Northeast Ohio. Through a combined business/education model, PHASTAR is able to offer unique life experiences and learning and training opportunities for high school students, adults seeking to learn new skills. This model affords the chance to not only improve the efficiency and scope of local industry and public services, but also helps to arm local students and adults with the tools to break the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. PHASTAR also partners with government, higher education and industry to develop technical training and education initiatives that deliver 21st century job skills and services that support the needs of the Northeast Ohio community. PHASTAR is co-founder of Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, a Cleveland Metropolitan School District high school featuring an aerospace and maritime-themed curriculum.

About Social Venture Partners

SVP is the largest network of engaged donors in the world. It builds powerful relationships among people and organizations committed to changing our world. SVP’s model provides a unique blend of unrestricted funding and collaborative consultation to area nonprofits in order to strengthen them internally. Each year, SVP Partners select one nonprofit as their newest Investee to receive annual unrestricted cash grants of $15,000 and tailored volunteer consulting extending, potentially, for three years. In addition to our long-term engagements, SVP works with numerous nonprofits throughout the community, building collaborative relationships and overcoming capacity-building challenges. Since its inception in 2001, SVP has provided $3.7 million in outright grants, volunteer time and expertise, and additional donations to area nonprofits.

SVP Cleveland is a 501(c)(3) grantmaking public charity and an affiliate of Social Venture Partners, the largest network of engaged donors in the world.