GPA Pitch Night – Bringing the UN Sustainable Development Goals to Life

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a framework for how countries, cities, and communities can work towards a more peaceful and prosperous world. These global goals range from ensuring affordable and clean energy supplies, to reducing inequalities, to taking action on climate change.

Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) is currently developing a campaign to grow SDGs awareness and commitment in Philadelphia. As part of this effort, we brought 14 students and young professionals together at Clarkville in West Philly for a special Pitch Night event on October 20, 2018. This event was held as part of Young Involved Philadelphia’s annual "State of Young Philly" program, which oversaw a range of civic engagement events for young people take place across the city.

At our Pitch Night, we encouraged participants to come up with creative new initiatives to work toward five SDGs, using a hypothetical budget of just $200.

  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality

Each pitch idea was then reviewed and ranked by a group of judges, made up of GPA staff members. 

Our winning pitch came from Helene Brennan, a civic engineer. With the goal of gender equality in mind, Helene developed a great idea for a networking event aimed at connecting girls in high school with executive women leaders across a range of sectors, from business development to engineering. It’s often said that if you can’t see it, you can’t be it. Meeting and speaking to women who are succeeding in professions traditionally associated with men would inspire girls to pursue careers they might not otherwise have realized were open to them.

Helene’s proposed to host such an event at the Philadelphia International Airport, a major Philadelphia organization, and GPA member, highly committed to gender equality – its board has a 50/50 gender split and is led by a female CEO, Chellie Cameron. 

Second place in the competition went to Vineesha Badabhagni and Natalie Lau, two students at the University of Pennsylvania, for their project tackling hunger in Philadelphia. They developed a program that would see Penn students collecting excess food from restaurants in the University City district of Philadelphia, and distributing it to homeless people in the local area.

Third place was awarded to “Team 309” for their pitch to create a website that would list businesses with a "pay it forward" theme, where customers can pay for an extra meal or drink on top of their own, allowing a less fortunate person to get something to eat and drink for free. This idea would confront both poverty and hunger, working towards two SDGs. Each business would be given a sticker to display in their window, so people who might not have access to the internet would still be able to benefit from the ‘pay it forward’ service. The website would help consumers make conscientious choices about where to spend their money in Philadelphia, and help businesses to position their social responsibility policies.

Pitch Night was a great opportunity to hear exciting new ideas from young people in Philadelphia, eager to make a difference to our city and our region by working towards the SDGs. We’re currently exploring ways to incorporate the winning pitch into our SDGs campaign.

Article written by Alice Krainock on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association