Henry W. Bloch
School of Management

Levitt Social Entrepreneurship

Let your passion fuel you.

Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

Social entrepreneurs make changes that grow communities. Social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading communities to take new chances; they seize opportunities others miss in order to improve systems, develop and disseminate new approaches and advance sustainable solutions that create social value. The Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is a collaborative effort for community, agencies and students to connect to make a difference in Kansas City communities and beyond.

Overview

The Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to all UMKC students from any UMKC school. Students will participate in a series of workshops over the fall and spring semester, culminating in a competition day during which teams or individuals present their projects to judges from the community. Teams ready for implementation will be elevated to Changemaker status and receive support to bring their plans to fruition over the next year.

You may bring an idea of your own or help a community organization with an idea of theirs. You may work on your own or with a team.

4 Questions, 16 Answers

Exemplifying the Bloch School Vision

The Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge exemplifies the Bloch School vision by: giving students and community persons an experiential learning opportunity to put theory into practice; teaching how be more like our benefactor Henry W. Bloch through understanding of the importance of giving back; and developing entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers in the nonprofit and public sector.

Connecting to Kansas City

In 2011, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce unveiled the city’s Big 5 Ideas, five initiatives designed to elevate the Kansas City region onto the world stage and make the area one of America’s best places to work, live, start a business, and grow a business. These community-based projects take advantage of the area’s world-class organizations and the spirit of our citizens to inspire innovation in our region. The Levitt Challenge supports several of these initiatives, including the Urban Core Neighborhood initiative and Making Kansas City America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.

Who was Aaron L. Levitt?

The Aaron L. Levitt Social Entrepreneurship Challenge was made possible by funds established in memory of Aaron Levitt upon his death in 1988. In 2012, the funds were repurposed for this event by his son Jim Levitt and the Levitt family, a family that has been part of Kansas City’s history for more than 90 years. Aaron Levitt was an entrepreneur who started his own furniture business. He was also a social entrepreneur with a deep commitment to giving back to the Kansas City community. He was deeply involved with UMKC, serving as president of the University Associates (now the UMKC Foundation) as well as chairman of the UMKC Board of Trustees. Levitt was active with the American Red Cross, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the civic council. He also made local history as the first Jewish man to be invited to join the Kansas City Club and the River Club.

2020

  • CornerStone Enterprise, Ltd, Cliff and Latasha Wilson
    A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that helps students & young adults (ages 18-29) navigate the journey to adulthood more successfully.

2019

2018

  • CES School, John DeGrandpre, Shung Hrangbung, Neil Mansuy
  • Determination Incorporated, Kyle J. Smith
  • DOLOCOIN, Larry Sanders
  • The Reading Nook, Brenda Starkes-Fonseca, Jeffrey Williams, Sharon Williams

2017

2016

2015

  • No Changemakers

2014

2013

  • Tutorious, John Stamm and Alfredo Palacol
  • EPEC, Natasha Kirsch and Jim Fisher

Contact Us

Arif Ahmed

305D Bloch Heritage Hall

FAQ

Unlike traditional business entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs primarily seek to generate “social value” rather than profits. And unlike the majority of non-profit organizations, their work is targeted not only towards immediate, small-scale effects, but sweeping, long-term change. This revolution is fundamentally changing the way society organizes itself and the way we approach social problems.

They are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling social issues and offering new ideas for change.

The projects will impact the community in a variety of ways and may be in the form of a nonprofit or a for profit enterprise.

No, ideas may lead to new social enterprises, innovative new civic programs, or innovative initiatives that transform and reenergize existing community programs.

Students may implement an idea of their own or they may collaborate with another student on their idea, or work with a community agency or company on one of their ideas.

Students and community members.

Students may work alone or in teams. At times there are students interested in making a difference but they do not have an idea of their own. They are available to work on other students projects.

There is not a monetary reward. The initiative’s focus is to support students as they learn and carry out an innovative socially-entrepreneurial project. Initiatives that are determined to be especially feasible will receive in-kind support from the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, and work with coaches, mentors, and experts to refine and implement their social venture over the next year.

No, the workshops are very helpful in putting together your business plan and we highly recommend taking them, but they are not required.

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