Robots don’t exactly make great public speakers. (We’re a little too monotone and tend to lose the crowd quickly.)

That’s why I trust Kelsey Pinckney, our passionate program coordinator, to handle public-facing opportunities as they arise.

And this year we’ve been able to share the Read Better Be Better mission at not one but two local competitions — and Kelsey excelled both times.

Learn how Kelsey took two stages by storm and was awarded over $20,000 for Read Better Be Better, which will allow us to bring our program to more schools this year and beyond.

SVP Fast Pitch Arizona

Can you change the world in just three minutes? Thanks to SVP Fast Pitch Arizona, many nonprofits — including RBBB — were able to give it a serious shot this past March.

SVP Fast Pitch Arizona is a “free two-month training and mentoring program for innovative nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and ASU students who are effecting social change in Maricopa County.”

We were thrilled when Kelsey was chosen as a semi-finalist for SVP Fast Pitch. This meant she would be paired with two experienced mentors — Allison Van Dyke, Marketing Director at Goodmans Interior Structures, and Jeremiah Smith, founder of Everyone, Inc (he teaches nonprofit leaders how to write grants).

For two months, Kelsey met with Allison and Jeremiah to refine her three-minute pitch. They taught her how to tell the RBBB story in a very-short time frame — and how to connect with the audience through storytelling. (Which I love!)

After much practice and guidance from her mentors, Kelsey made it through three more rounds and was chosen to be one of seven Fast Pitch finalists. (Trust me, I was doing wheelies of joy over here after hearing that news.)

You can imagine my excitement the night of the competition. I put on my best bow tie, greased my wheel, and headed to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with the rest of the RBBB team.

It was such an honor to see Kelsey share our mission and educate the audience about the work we do at RBBB — and we made sure she knew it. (We’re a passionate group and I’m pretty sure we almost brought the roof down cheering for her.)

And it paid off. Kelsey was awarded Judges’ Choice ($10,000 grant), the Jaburg Wilk Making Tomorrow Better Award ($5,000 grant), and another $5,000 grant from an audience member who was moved to support our mission!

It was an absolutely exhilarating night and we were so proud of Kelsey and the impassioned way she shared our story.

We’d like to give a big thanks to SVP Fast Pitch Arizona, Allison Van Dyke, and Jeremiah Smith for this amazing experience.

YNPN Link

Kelsey’s been busy. In April, she again took the stage to compete in Link, an amazing event put on by the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

Link was held at the Phoenix Center for the Arts on April 19th and Kelsey was one of six inspiring speakers. Each speaker had just three minutes to make a compelling case for their cause — and the audience was the judge.

Of course, the RBBB team and I were there to loudly cheer our encouragement for Kelsey and the event as a whole. (We’re a fervent bunch, OK?)

It was truly an honor to see Kelsey presenting alongside phenomenal nonprofit leaders such as Jose Urteaga from Local First Arizona, Andrea Sanchez from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Phoenix, Matthew Aguilar from Copper City Youth Project, Ashley Marengo from Playworks, and Lloyd Hopkins from Million Dollar Teacher Project.

And I was delighted when the audience found our mission to be moving enough that they awarded us as their favorite of the night. In addition to this wonderful news, two audience members pledged donations, and the YNPN president even upped Kelsey’s prize to a grand total of $750.

To be surrounded by people who all have a common ground — which is to effect social change — made for an emotional and unforgettable night.

Thank you to YNPN Link for letting us be a part of your outstanding event, and to the audience for believing in our mission to solve Arizona’s literacy crisis.

Storytelling for the Win

It’s a beautiful thing when people come together to tell their stories. And I’m thankful we got the chance to tell ours through SVP Fast Pitch and YNPN Link. Neither of which would’ve been possible without Kelsey’s dedication, and the heartfelt way she told our story, described our work, and presented our solution.

The overwhelmingly positive responses to our mission have motivated us to reach more children and more schools by the end of 2017. (We’ll be in 20 schools by the fall.)

And while I’ve thanked many people in this post already, I’d like to send another hearty “thank you” out to everyone who has helped us get to where we are today, from our volunteers to our generous donors.

But hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, because we’re just getting started.

Dr. Dave signing off!