Red Lion-based gourmet marshmallow maker MarshmallowMBA, York-based recording studio Studio 117 and Spring Garden Township barbershop Mt. Rose Barberama were each awarded $2,500 as part of a micro-grant program launched in June by six YCEA interns.
The program, YoCo Bloom, was designed, developed and administered by the YCEA interns as a way to create lasting change at for-profit companies with less than 100 part-time or full-time employees, said Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the YCEA.
“Creating and launching this program in such a short period of time was no small task,” Schreiber said. “This incredible team of interns really embraced the challenge, and used the depth of the YCEA bench to aid in this accomplishment.”
Guided by the YCEA, the interns narrowed down a field of 30 applicants to seven finalists, said intern Bryce Kruger, a 21-year-old studying public relations at York College. From there, the finalists participated in a pitch competition. The initial intention was to select two grant recipients, but the interns ended up picking three.
“It was a lot harder than we expected to get our finalists down to seven. There were so many strong initiatives,” Kruger said.
MarshmallowMBA will use its grant to purchase a cutting device that its owners anticipate will increase productivity by 60 percent. The increased productivity will allow the business to hire additional staff members and potentially partner with schools to provide engagement opportunities with students, said Kruger.
Mt. Rose Barberama intends to use its grant to purchase promotional wear that it will re-sell at a higher margin. The profit will be used to buy gift cards to the barbershop that it will distribute – with the help of local nonprofits like LifePath Christian Ministries – to people in need.
Studio 117 will expand its free music education program for students in need by allowing it to mobilize to new locations and increasing studio space to reach more students.
To be eligible for the grant, businesses had to be a member of YCEA, be based in York County, be able to match 10 percent of the grant’s capital value to show commitment to the project, and create a plan to use the funds within four months.
Moving forward, Kruger said he hopes YoCo Bloom will continue to blossom and that the grants will increase as years pass.