Utah nonprofit uses "Shark Tank" concept to award funds

SALT LAKE CITY – Some local nonprofit groups have a chance to swim with the sharks and perhaps win $50,000. 

The Community Foundation of Utah has organized a competition similar to the business reality television show “Shark Tank,” and the finalists have been selected to compete for a cash prize to help them become self-sufficient.

Fraser Nelson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Utah, says at the First Annual Social Investors Forum today in Salt Lake City, the nonprofit groups will explain to a panel of judges how they’d use the investment funds. 

“The six finalists were particularly chosen because of this concept of self-reliance or building their sustainability,” he points out.

Nelson adds it was difficult narrowing down more than 100 entries to just a few finalists, because so many good ideas were submitted. 

She says one of the finalists, The Green Urban Lunch Box, has a concept of making jam out of fruit that would otherwise have been discarded – and selling the jam to fund its mission of teaching urban gardening practices. 

“It’s a locally-produced organization creating locally-produced jams,” she explains. “And part of the fruit that they collect goes to make the jam, and part goes to the food bank – so, it’s bringing fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste.”

Nelson says the Community Foundation of Utah has assets of about $30 million and has granted nearly $9 million to community organizations in Utah and elsewhere.

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