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Black Excellence Weekend In Dayton Kicks Off With Pitch Competition

Michelle Person, a Black woman wearing a white shirt, black pants, and glasses, stands with her hand gesturing as she answers questions at the pitch competition. Behind her is a chalk board and a projection screen for presentations.
Leila Goldsteiin
Educator Michelle Person answers questions from judges about her proposal for a private school, called the Just Like Me Collective, at the Pitch Black competition Thursday.

Put on by the Dayton Young Black Professionals, Black Excellence Weekend continues through Sunday with networking events, a vintage flea market and an opportunity fair.

On Thursday night, the Dayton Young Black Professionals kicked off Black Excellence Weekend with its first ever pitch competition. At The Hub at the Dayton Arcade, six local entrepreneurs presented their proposals to a panel of five judges. Their pitches ranged from a vegan ice cream business to a new private school, with participants looking for funding and resources.

With over ten years of experience in the nonprofit field, Jasmine Henderson pitched her vision for a Black philanthropic foundation in Dayton called the Bridges Foundation.

“What sets us apart is we are reclaiming our Black time and investing in financial freedom at the philanthropic level,” she said to the judges and attendees. “This is the last place where Black excellence doesn’t exist, if I’m being real honest. There’s not enough representation at the foundation level.”

Black Excellence Weekend continues through Sunday with networking events, a vintage flea market and an opportunity fair. Winners of the pitch competition will be announced at the Melanin Ball, a formal gala on Saturday. Pitch participants are also receiving a business mentor, assistance with media packages and other resources to help them start their projects.

Dayton Young Black Professionals board member Natasha Tolentino said the weekend is a way to lower the barriers to entry for local Black businesses.

“We want to create more Black businesses in Dayton so that we can keep our money here instead of big business,” she said. “Ultimately, that's what you're going to see, us really putting our money and our time and our resources where our mouth is.”

Find out more about all of the Black Excellence Weekend events at daytonybp.org.

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.