Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gulf Coast Philanthropy Announces Volunteer Recognition Contest

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy 

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, which is April 15 to 21, the Gulf Coast Philanthropy team is pleased to announce a volunteer recognition contest.

The intent of the contest is to highlight regional community members who volunteer extensively as independent citizens or through corporate volunteer engagement programs.

A five-member selection committee will review all applications and determine a winner during National Volunteer Week. The winner will be announced on April 21st on Gulf Coast Philanthropy.  In addition to other eligibility criteria, applicants must have engaged in efforts over the past 12 months or more that benefits one of the following states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida. A panel of judges will review all applications and notify the winner of their status by April 21st.

The winner will receive a $100 gift card and $50 to the charity of their choice. These prizes have been generously donated by the Detroit-based Kaleidoscope Consulting LLC.

The application deadline for the contest is now closed. Please read the subsequent article on GCP for details on the winner. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Capital One Bank Supports Economic Development in Houston Through Small Business Program

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

Capital One Bank is embarking upon the third year of its “Getting Down to Business” Program in Houston, which offers an opportunity for qualified small businesses to grow by increasing business knowledge, networking with industry experts and lenders, and earning a matched savings reward.

Dandy Candy LLC Founders Gina Williams and Goya Qualls graduated from program last year and were the winners of the business plan competition. The company uses a new and patented technology to reproduce any image or message on the surface of delicious chocolate that can be packaged for various occasions.

Co-Founder Goya Qualls credits the program’s mentorship component with helping her to more effectively reach the company’s target market. “Prior to Capital One, we spent money in all the wrong places trying to get our product in front of people,” she said.

2011 Houston Graduates of the Capital One Bank
Getting Down to Business program

Photo courtesy of Capital One Bank
Goya’s business partner Gina Williams said she knew they needed to change their business development strategy, and felt it was divine intervention that they received an e-mail about the program. “When the chance came to participate in the GDTB Program, we jumped at the opportunity,” Gina said.

In alliance with several partners, including SCORE, Money Management International, Accion Texas, Capital One’s program provides small business owners with networking opportunities as well. The program consists of 15 evening education sessions, and participants are required to attend each session, develop a business plan with guidance from an assigned mentor, and meet other program requirements.

Ann Guliex, President of All-N-One Services staffing firm and 2011 program graduate, said the credit counseling aspect the program was essential helping her position her business for long-term growth and success.

“The credit reports from Money Management at the beginning and end of the program was an excellent source of information to fully understand what was needed to improve credit ratings and scores,” she said.

Ann also emphasized the need for participants to remain consistent to reap the benefit of the “Getting Down to Business” Program.

“Be totally committed to the program for the 7 or 8 months and you will leave the program with a better understanding on what direction to take your business and how build and grow,” she said. “You get out of the program what you put in.” 

To apply, please complete the online application for the program by 5 p.m. on April 6, 2012. 
All qualified businesses will be contacted for an interview. Due to the high level of interest, a panel of judges will help select 15 applicants.