You may recognize Care USA as the orange behemoth on the corner of Ellis and Piedmont but overlooked the fact that it’s one of Atlanta’s largest headquartered nonprofits. With over 10,000 staff in 90 countries, Care’s global reach is expansive. While most of their programming happens overseas, Atlantans will have the rare opportunity to see their work in action during the first ever Scale X Design Pitch Practice. Tonight, 15 teams will pitch their hearts out in hopes of snagging a spot for the final competition in New York next week. The top 3 finalists will each win $150k to implement and scale their ideas.
We recently caught up with Dar Vanderbeck, Care’s Chief Innovation Officer, to hear the power of innovation, SXD’s potential to impact 389M lives (yes, “M” as in million), and why Atlanta is poised to play the perfect pitch host.
What does it mean for Atlanta to be hosting this type of event?
CARE is a big, established actor, we’ve been around for 71 years and yet, many people do not know that we are here in Atlanta or what we do. There’s been a disconnect between the employees at CARE in Atlanta doing all this great work around social justice and women’s rights and fighting poverty but not really connected to the local community that is doing the same work within a different context.
This is the first event from CARE that is really about true sharing and collaboration. For a majority of our 15 teams, it will be their first time in the United States and Atlanta. Beyond the competition, we are really excited to show them the city.
For these teams, they get to experience Atlanta, what can the local community expect to experience through SXD?
This is a great opportunity for people who live in Atlanta to know more about CARE. We have 10,000 staff members and are in over 90 countries so there is a huge level of expertise and passion and experience. It’s going to be fun sharing and collaborating with the Atlanta community.
People from these teams have lived through the Rwandan genocide, have toppled regimes who have oppressed women, who have fought for the right to vote for women in their lifetime and I think there is a ton to learn from them. Our people are engaged in mission-driven work and believe that all our countries are best when they are diverse and inclusive. It’s a moment where we can be humble as people who live in the United States and really get advice from others who have been working for change for a long time.
Can Atlanta expect to see a similar event in the foreseeable future?
It’s something we want to continue for many years and definitely will be for the next few. We just got a very generous grant from the Sall Family Foundation and a sponsorship grant from Delta to continue this work. We are working through these current events but we are working on potentially bringing in thematic challenges. We have an incredible array of teams that are finalists now, but we are also thinking about having regional cohorts. For instance, a cohort in Asia who pitches in Bangkok, or one in Middle East-North Africa that’s out of Jordan or Lebanon. We want more people in the program to begin with and have it culminate in Atlanta for the pitch competition.
What is it about Atlanta that makes CARE want to continue hosting an event like SXD here again?
Atlanta is a city in transition but we have a rich history of innovation. By that, I mean unique and powerful ways to fight for social justice with different types of partners. Today in Atlanta, with organizations like SisterSong, SONG, Center for Civic Innovation and catalyzing projects like the BeltLine, it’s one of those moments where we want to be a value-based city and be a mission-driven city first. We will be defined by how we grow and if it prioritizes access and equity. Obviously, there are problems we face during this process but we have the talent and the leadership and the people who are activated to come up with creative solutions. Our rich history and current grit and fierceness and passion and way of collaborating across private, public, nonprofit, and government sectors is an inspiring site to host this event.
Doors open at Atlanta Tech Village at 6PM and the pitches start at 6:30PM. Find information on directions and parking here.
Photos are property of Care USA.