An impressive group of teens from YouthServe‘s Youth Philanthropy Council visited with Rod and Brianna Cowans of 3rd Street Market this week to take a tour of their store. They learned more about food deserts and how REV Birmingham’s Business Growth team is working with small business owners like the Cowans to find sustainable models for community change.
The Cowans were the winners of REV’s BIG PITCH 2017, an exciting showcase of Birmingham’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs. They won the $20,000 grand prize and the $5,000 popular vote prize, the first time in BIG PITCH history that the 1st place winner was also the People’s Choice winner.
They are using their winnings to convert their existing business, R&M Convenience Store, to 3rd Street Market, a family-owned and operated, full-service grocery store in Enon Ridge. They saw the need for this change when they realized the nearest grocery store was two miles away from their community, where many residents do not have access to reliable transportation.
The Cowans are known for being reliable, trustworthy helpers to the community, so it’s no surprise that they wanted to go above and beyond to meet the food needs of their beloved Enon Ridge. 3rd Street Market’s mission is to provide residents, visitors, and commuters of the community with quality products and services in a store with a safe and welcoming feel.
The members of the Philanthropy Council learned that philanthropy and community investment don’t always look like direct aid. It can also be investment in systems and hyperlocal economies that sparks change. The teens are looking to invest in programs that make Birmingham a better place, and through their visit to 3rd Street Market, they caught a glimpse of how lives can be so different for people living in the same city.
YouthServe is a longtime partner of REV and exists to promote youth volunteerism and leadership while giving teens the tools to make positive impacts in their communities. The Youth Philanthropy Council is open to students in grades 10-12 and promotes civic engagement, leadership and community service.
On Saturday, November 23, five Big Pitch finalists will vie for a share of $50,000 in cash and professional services prize packages, as they pitch their business models to a panel of judges, potential investors, and a live audience.
This fall, the REV team is doing some new REV things, with a demonstration project designed to prove and improve downtown Birmingham’s market for more retail.