Editor’s note: updated to include winners in academic, veteran, and civic divisions of EarthxPitch.
A nonprofit based in Dallas and Nicaragua took first place at the Earth Day Texas EarthxPitch event this weekend in Fair Park.
The Nicaragua Initiative for Community Advancement, or NICA was announced the winner in the nonprofit division Sunday and awarded a $15,000 cash prize for its efforts to revitalize rural communities in the Central American country.
Originally called EarthTank, the newly named competition invited veterans, primary and secondary school students, civic organizations, and nonprofits to pitch their projects focused on conservation, sustainability, and environmental education. Last year, the National Wildlife Federation took the top prize for its efforts to raise awareness about Monarch butterfly populations in the Dallas area.
On Sunday, four EarthxPitch nonprofit finalists present their ecological projects to a panel of five judges during three-minute pitches and eight-minute Q&A sessions.
After deliberation, the judges awarded Savory Institute the runner-up prize of $10,000 to further its efforts in restoring the planet’s grasslands. Savory is based in Boulder, Colorado and is responsible for the growth in grasslands around the world that were once fossilized.
Other EarthxPitch winners include a $1,500 prize for Lake Dallas Middle School for its proposed ecology club in the academic division. Warrior Spirit Project was first place in the veteran division, taking home $3,000, and the city of Garland won $5,500 in the civic pitch contest.
“We impact the life of the individual, the town as a whole, and the environment for many years to come.”
EarthxPitch’s nonprofit champion, NICA, will use it’s prize money to expand the nonprofit’s largest project, Somos el Cambio.
“The project provides locals in El Transito, Nicaragua the opportunity to do community service work in exchange for basic needs,” said Terri Marlett, NICA’s co-founder and executive director.
The nonprofit helps to solve issues of both poverty and the environment by giving locals the opportunity to clean the results of improper disposal in their community and receive their everyday necessities as a reward.
The excessive litter in El Transito is not only being cleaned, but also being stopped in its tracks by having volunteers act as ambassadors and educate their neighbors on the harmful effects of improper disposal.
“We impact the life of the individual, the town as a whole, and the environment for many years to come,” Marlett said.
In its 11-year history, NICA’s affiliates in Nicaragua have accumulated 80,500 community service hours.
“It’s amazing to see how so many individuals can create something that has such a large impact on a community like El Transito,” said Hannah Smith, an employee of a Texas wind energy provider, Breeze Energy Co., who attended the pitch event.
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