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The Idea Tournament at Politifest ended with an unexpected twist this year that allowed all the contenders to pursue their ideas.

Normally, the five finalists present their proposals to the judging panel and then one organization wins the prize. This year, the grand prize was a $2,500 cash grant underwritten by SDG&E with a customized consulting package from Mission Edge San Diego.

Voice of San Diego members had narrowed the 14 original proposals down to five finalists with varying ideas for making San Diego better.

A community organization in Logan Heights, BAME CDC, wants to convert an empty lot into a community garden gathering location.

Media Arts Center San Diego wants to transform alleys across San Diego into community gathering places.

Traveling Stories wants to provide financial literacy workshops at farmers markets to teach kids investing time into work is worth the rewards gained.

University Heights Community Association wants to build a vertical garden at a bus stop with the help of Alice Birney Elementary School students to improve their English and math skills.

HandsOn San Diego wants funding for “Go Kits,” which will provide volunteers tools to clean their communities.

Once the ideas were presented, it was up to the Idea Tournament judges to crown the winner.  This year’s judging panel included Ken Davenport from Mission Edge San Diego, KPBS news editor Tom Fudge, Heather Back from the San Diego Foundation, SDGE’s Pedro Villegas and consultant Cheryl Alethia Phelps. During deliberations, the judges struggled to weed out ideas.

“This decision was very difficult,” said Villegas, SDG&E’s director of community relations. “We couldn’t determine one winner, so we didn’t. You’re all getting grants to help fund your ideas.”

Villegas announced that Traveling Stories would be awarded the grand prize of $2,500 cash and $2,500 in consulting services. In a twist, he added that SDG&E would provide additional grants to remaining runners up. In second place, University Heights Community Association will receive $1,500 with $1,000 each going to HandsOn San Diego, BAME CDC and Media Arts Center San Diego.

When asked why SDG&E decided to donate money for all the contenders in the Idea Tournament, Villegas said, “Together, the panel of judges and SDG&E pulled a James T. Kirk taking the impossible Kobayashi Maru test, and we rewired the Idea Tournament so that everyone could deservedly win.  It was the right thing to do.”

SDG&E sponsors more than 600 nonprofits, so it was natural for them to want to help five more out, Villegas said.

[wpv-view name=”Partner Voices Related Articles” wpvpartnervoicetype=”SDG&E”]

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