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.

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 in May 2018 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.

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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.

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.

November 10


Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship and the Levitt Challenge
8:30am – 12:30pm

December 1

Workshop #1

“Identifying and Exploring Opportunities”

8:30am – 12:30pm

January 12

Workshop #1.5

Checking in: How is that plan coming along?
8:30am – 12:30pm

February 9

Workshop #2

“Developing and Organizing a Viable Business Model”
8:30am – 12:30pm

March 9

Workshop #3

“Funding and Financing your Social Venture”
8:30am – 12:30pm

March 30

Workshop #4

“Preparing Dynamic Business Plans”
8:30am – 12:30pm

April 11

Drafts Due

Draft or business or feasibility plan due

April 22

Drafts Returned

Feedback reported back on each plan

May 3

Final Due

Final version of the business or feasibility plan due

May 4

Plans sent to Reviewers


May 4

Workshop #5

“Creating Presentations with Impact and Sizzle”
8:30am – 12:30pm

May 20

Levitt Changemaker Event


Cindy Laufer
Project Manager
Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership

David Renz, Ph.D.
Director of the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership

Scott Helm, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow

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.