Body Empowerment wins Great Dames pitch contest
Based in Philadelphia, Body Empowerment Project offers a program to schools to address eating disorders among teenagers and young adults. Founded by Amanda Moreno, Christina Miranda and Clara Pritchett in 2021, the program has reached 325 students across 12 middle and high schools in the Philadelphia region.
“For years, I struggled with poor body image and self-esteem. I only wish I had a program like Body Empowerment Project when I was in school,” Miranda said in her pitch video to the Great Dames judging panel. “We are helping young women and girls thrive in all their future endeavors.”
At the core of the organization is a workshop that aims to minimize risk factors like body image dissatisfaction while building self-esteem. College student volunteers can also participate in a peer mentorship program.
Body Empowerment Project won a $5,000 prize along with access to a business mentor, a portfolio of services in financial planning and marketing, and a strategic partnership with Great Dames. With the funding, the nonprofit aims to expand to three new schools.
Great Dames President and CEO Sharon Kelly Hake said that the judging panel found Body Empowerment Project’s pitch presented a compelling case and showed great impact to women already.
“Body image issues are a real issue, and about 13% of all youth will face an eating disorder, and young women face it even more,” Hake said. “The program has already shown results in schools and has partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and University of Pennsylvania. It also outlined a viable solution that can be easily replicated. With the award, the hope is that they can move into more schools.”
Great Dames is an organization that seeks to unite women throughout the world in networking events, workshops and seminars in Delaware. Founded in 2009 by Hake, a former DuPont director, Great Dames focuses on helping women achieve professional and personal goals.
The organization launched its first pitch competition in 2014, after seeing so many women be left behind for venture capital funding. That year, researchers from Harvard, MIT and the Wharton School published a study that found male entrepreneurs were 60% more likely to achieve pitch competition success than were female entrepreneurs.
This year, Great Dames had transitioned the pitch competition to nonprofits. Hake said that several organizations expressed interest, to the point that the scope had to be narrowed to the mid-Atlantic region and nonprofits that impact women and girls.
Pitches were accepted through July, and the winner was revealed Sept. 28 at a reception at the Delaware Art Museum.
In the end, 20 applications were submitted. Semi-finalists included: #WhyWeGive, a volunteer group that provides hygiene kits to the homeless; Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation, which provides funding and mentorship for women who have faced challenges; Girls Inc. of DE, an organization that provides programs and tools to handle life’s challenges; previous pitch winner Girls Leading Africa; and leadership development program Global Interactions.
Finalists included Unite For Her, an education service for those with breast and ovarian cancer, and The Wardrobe, providing clothing to reduce barriers to employment and independence.
“I believe moving forward we’re likely to do alternating pitch competitions for businesses and nonprofits,” Hake said, noting that next year the Dames will be soliciting for business pitches. “We’d love for more people to participate in the Giving Circle, so ideally we would offer both in a single year.”