Six Finalists, One Winning $50,000 Idea


Six ideas will be pitched to a group of 40 entrepreneurs on Thursday, Feb. 25, all vying for one $50,000 grant.

Finalists will pitch their ideas at the event open to the public at Wire in Berwyn. The panel of Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy members will select and announce the winning “Big Idea.” The Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP), a giving group of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, pooled their philanthropic contributions to make a big impact through this competition of locally generated ideas.

The Big Idea Finalists are:

Arbor West Senior Neighbors

-A neighborhood network of volunteers supporting older adults “age in place”.

Knockout Pickles

-A farm to jar artisanal pickle social enterprise.

Living Landscapes Project

-Will turn residents’ lawns into a more productive, bio diverse space.

Recycling and Reuse Park

-A new park to be used as a consolidation point to divert material from landfills.

The Surplus Project

-Surplus cafeteria food will be distributed to local agencies that serve the hungry.

Time Exchange Project

-Convert your time into purchasing power.

All of the ideas listed above (39 in total were submitted) are connected to nonprofit organizations in Oak Park, one of which will receive the $50,000 grant with its coinciding idea. Entrepreneur Leaders in Philanthropy have brought together 40 business leaders, each contributing $2,500 toward a fund of $100,000, part of which will be used to fund the Big Idea grant.

According to the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, “the ideas are, indeed, entrepreneurial in spirit – but they are not tied to for-profit endeavors” and the winning Big Idea will help to foster transformation for the Oak Park and River Forest communities. “Although only one idea will receive a $50,000 grant on February 25, our hope is that new ideas will surface, take shape, and be pitched for grants in future years,” said the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.

For more information about the Big Idea, including ticket information for the Big Idea Finalist Pitch Party, please visit


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