Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

Knoxville Business News Tennessee Mountain Scenery Background
September 26, 2023 | Tom Ballard

“ETSU Elevates” returns on October 9 with nine pitches

The competition pairs students with community partners to address an economic, social or environmental issue of their choice. The students will present their pitches in front of a live audience and three judges.

From an immersive art exhibit to amplify the voices of the community’s population experiencing homelessness to a program linking college students with older adults in rural communities to reduce social isolation, students at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) have many ideas to improve the quality of life for the people of this region.

Those ideas and seven others will take center stage at “ETSU Elevates,” a pitch competition on October 9 at the Martin Center for the Arts. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the competition begins at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“ETSU Elevates” is part of ETSU Founders Week, October 9-13, a week full of festivities to commemorate the university’s founding in October 1911.

The pitch competition will feature nine projects that pair students with nine different community partners to address an economic, social or environmental issue of their choice. The students will present their pitches in front of a live audience and three judges.

The judges include Bradley Eshbach, Owner/Operator of The Generalist and Managing Director, Creative Energy in Johnson City; Melissa Roberts, Executive Director of the Appalachian Promise Alliance in Bristol; and Aundrea Sayler, Chief Business Development Officer for the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

On top of $1,500 in seed funding granted to each “ETSU Elevates” project, the nine are eligible for additional funding at the pitch events. Judges will award the “ETSU Elevates” first-, second- and third-place prizes and the audience will select the People’s Choice Award. A total of $25,000 will be awarded to address community needs.

The “ETSU Elevates” projects and their community partners are as follows:

  • Appalachian Veterans Festival (community veterans organizations and ETSU Military and Veterans Services);
  • Project Capture It: Creating Compassion for Underrepresented Communities (Manna House);
  • Caring Connection (Mooresburg Community Association);
  • Look Ahead (Hawkins County Schools);
  • Black Mental Healthcare (Northeast Tennessee Association of Black Social Workers);
  • PEER-iod Education (RISE, Johnson City);
  • The Viola Project (Frontier Health, Johnson City);
  • Delivering Eye Care to Appalachia (Appalachian Miles for Smiles); and
  • The Aloe Project (LXI, Johnson City).

Don’t Miss Out on the Southeast’s Latest Entrepreneurial, Business, & Tech News!

Sign-up to get the Teknovation Newsletter in your inbox each morning!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


No, thanks!