A local church is accepting nominations for its “Shark Tank”-style entrepreneurial contest.

First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, located in Midtown, has announced Epiphany, its second-year social entrepreneurship initiative. Through Feb. 2, the church is soliciting applications from entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for projects and start-ups to address social challenges.

According to a news release, the church “will help nurture and fund selected social ventures through access to capital and community resources. (Its) members with diverse occupational backgrounds such as finance, marketing, management, law and communications offer their skills, networks, connections and experiences to help advance the ideas that are incubated.”

Chosen ventures will receive funding to launch or scale from a pool of $150,000 in 2020, as well as ongoing strategic planning assistance from the church. The initiative is designed to promote individual economic empowerment and to reinforce First Presbyterian’s identity as the Atlanta church that balances spiritual conviction with tangible compassion.

In 2019 the church gave grants to Refuge Coffee, which serves the global community in Clarkston through coffee-related job creation, job training, social networking and commerce; Automotive Training Center, which provides young men with technical training so they may obtain entry-level employment in the automotive repair industry; Eviction Assistance Mobile App, which helps tenants facing eviction navigate the housing court system; PadSplit, a technology platform to help working Atlantans find safe, affordable housing; and Purposeful Pecans, a new product envisioned and baked by Meals on Wheels of Atlanta in their kitchens to generate revenue to provide meals for vulnerable older adults.

“I love the fact that the Epiphany program recognized the cultural, economic and social value refugees from more than 50 countries add to our communities,” Refuge Coffee’s Kitti Murray said in the release. “And they saw a way to tap into that value through job creation and training here at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston. We are serving more than just good coffee – whether it’s chai tea or iced black, Refuge Coffee has been able to reach more of the community through the grant we received from First Presbyterian Church.”

Applications are being accepted through the Epiphany online portal. Multiple semifinalists will receive concentrated coaching and venture refinement, hands-on business advising from experienced mentors recruited from the church’s membership and a development workshop with business and city leaders.

A narrowed set of finalists will pitch their refined venture ideas to a panel of judges during Epiphany Pitch Week May 10 through 16. The final award recipients will be announced May 17.

For more information or to enter the contest, visit www.firstpresatl.org/epiphany.

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