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On Oct. 12, Philanthropitch will return for its fourth annual pitch event for nonprofits. It’s been a little over a year since I pitched the community to support the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative at the virtual 2020 Philanthropitch San Antonio event … and what a year it has been. The collaborative was awarded nearly $30,000 during Philanthropitch, but the experience was priceless.

When we were named a 2020 finalist, our program was still in its infancy. The collaborative was formed in 2019 when six nonprofits joined forces to provide no-cost mental wellness resources right inside school districts that served areas lacking mental health services.

In the beginning, each nonprofit pledged to finance its participation in the program for one year because we didn’t have any outside funding. We made that pledge because we knew this program could break cost, language, and transportation barriers. It was the first of its kind to offer students, their families, teachers, and administrative staff mental health counseling, wellness education, psychiatry needs, grief support, substance use intervention, and wraparound services.

We were only three months into our pilot year at South San Antonio Independent School District when we started working with Philanthropitch. Our team of collaborators had big hopes for what the program could grow into, but we were moving at such a fast pace that we hadn’t had time to formalize a long-term plan. This is where our experience with Philanthropitch propelled the collaborative into its next phase.

From the beginning of my conversations with Philanthropitch, the leaders there were invested in helping us make the collaborative work. We were able to work with people who have knowledge in building successful businesses, and I was impressed with the amount of time the coaches spent guiding us.

With the help of business coaches, we worked diligently to create a five-year plan with budgeting needs and ways to become sustainable through program replication. We spent a lot of time writing and rewriting our narrative so that it was compelling and concise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this pitch to talk to new funders, efficiently laying out the mental health needs of the community and the solution our program offers.

Philanthropitch also does a great job picking judges who are invested in the community and know the nuances of the nonprofit world. This year, David Rogers from the H.E. Butt Foundation is a judge. He and his wife, Deborah Butt Rogers, were the first to invest in the collaborative. They saw promise in our program and believed in what our mental health services could provide a school community. David Rogers is just one shining example of the caliber that Philanthropitch offers the innovative, life-changing programs that will pitch on that stage in October.

Since my pitch in June 2020, the collaborative has grown immensely. We used the tools that Philanthropitch gave us to build out a program that had a clear vision for the future. The collaborative has expanded into three school districts, received more than $5 million in funding from government entities and foundations, and is in talks to expand the concept nationally.

We didn’t do this alone, though.

We’ve built relationships with some of the donors who have advocated for the collaborative on our behalf. After Documation donated $5,000 to us during Philanthropitch, Robby Brown, vice president of Documation, took a big interest in our program. He not only gave us funding, but he also introduced us to prominent people in the city. He continues to work with our program to make sure we are getting in front of the right people who can help expand mental health resources to those in need. With his help, and the help of many others, the collaborative will not only provide mental health resources here in San Antonio but will expand to help cities across the country start their own version of the collaborative.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far the collaborative has come since Philanthropitch 2020. I look forward to attending this year’s event and supporting the new group of nonprofits as they pitch their programs to judges, funders, and the community. If you are a person interested in understanding new and innovative ways organizations are impacting change in our community, then you’ll want to be at Philanthropitch 2021.

Ultimately, Philanthropitch isn’t just a fundraising event, however. It’s an investment into our community. It’s a launching pad for innovative ideas. It’s an opportunity for nonprofits to set up a plan for success. It’s something you definitely won’t want to miss.

Philanthropitch San Antonio will be held Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s finalists are Bihl Haus Arts, Culturingua, Girls on The Run, Maestro Leadership Foundation, and Pride Center San Antonio. Tickets are on sale now at the Tobin. The full cost of your ticket is directly donated to the nonprofit of your choice through the Audience Award. Each nonprofit pitch also will be posted online for viewing and voting from Oct. 4-8 at Philanthropitch.org/san-antonio.

Talli Dolge

Talli Dolge is the CEO of Jewish Family Service. In 2019, she led a group of six mental health nonprofits to create the San Antonio Mobile Mental Wellness Collaborative, a unique program that provides...