How Gaia Passages Learned to Pitch and Win!

at the 2021 Title Nine Nonprofit Pitchfest

Martha Sobrepeña and Kathren Murrell Stevenson

Pitching is a Sport. At Gaia Passages, we learned pitching is a team sport, and in this instance, a relay race. Martha gave the pitch that put us in the top nine finalists out of over 90 applicants. She took some videos in Wildcat Creek where the Richmond Roots had been doing programming and sent it to Natasha, who did a great job editing it into a 3-minute video. You can watch our video submission here: 

Gaia Passages Video Submission

Then we realized Martha was going to be attending a wilderness quest and couldn’t pitch at the live event. Time for the relay! Martha handed me the pitch baton for the next leg of the race.

To give a great pitch, you need a great coach. At Gaia Passages, we understand the importance of mentoring. So does Title Nine! Title Nine matched us with a great coach – Nettie Pardue from Outward Bound, California. Nettie patiently listened for the spark in the new 7-minute pitch we were to craft for the live pitch event. From Nettie, we learned …

Nettie Pardue  Photo: Casey Nelson/Title Nine, 2021

Remember the why! Nettie reminded us that it is more important to speak from the heart than to rattle off statistics about our programs or recite all the programmatic details. 

Embody the spirit of the work in your Pitch. Gaia Passages isn’t about a bunch of great ideas. Gaia Passages is about connecting with ourselves, one another, and nature in community. That’s why we realized in our pitch, we would have to…

Slow Down. One of my greatest mentors, Angeles Arrien, said: “Creativity and healing move at the speed of nature, which is medium to slow.” Slowing down enables us to…

Breathe. Every great pitch begins with the breath. And taking a deep breath in before beginning enables it all to unfold with…

Equal parts Preparation and Surrender. This has always been a guiding principle for me. Every day until the day of the pitch was a day of preparation. In the moment, the most important thing I could do was surrender and…

Voice Courage. When I think about bringing my heart forward, I feel the guidance of Terry Tempest Williams behind me, reminding me to voice courage. When I stepped up to pitch, I was nervous. And then I remembered that what I was asking of myself is no different than what we ask of the youth in our programs, which is to go to their edge, expand their comfort zone, and exercise their leadership with the support of their ancestors, mentors, and community.

Listen to Nature, and Invite in Support. Four days before I gave the pitch for Gaia Passages, I had the beginning and the end of the pitch in place, but the middle was still a bit of a mystery. During the night, I woke up with one thought: Salmon! I got out of bed and the middle of the pitch poured out like water. Salmon wrote the middle. I just had to listen and write what I heard. 

On the day of the pitch, Raven helped remind the audience of our connection to nature. Just at the moment where I invited everyone to close their eyes, Raven began cawing loudly, amplifying the message. Slow down. Breathe. Listen to your body’s wisdom. Listen to the birdsong. We are interconnected, and…

We’re in this Together!  The folks at Title Nine reminded us that we were not competing against each other. We were competing against our last best pitch, and practicing for the next one. Since this was my first pitch, it was destined to be my best pitch ever! And it was.

T9 Pitchfest Finalists! 

Title Nine Top Nine Nonprofits: Molly Dickens &Mother, Eli Jimenez Freedom Community Clinic, Sakeenah S. El-Amin Girls Taking Up Space, Olivia Winokur Girls Outdoor Adventure in Leadership and Science (GOALS), Roxanne Christophe Girls Crushing It, Lizelle Jackson Color the Water, Bernadette Lim Freedom Community Clinic, Kathren Murrell Stevenson Gaia Passages, AnnMarie Baines The Practice Space, and Sarah Pritchard Rosie the Riveter Trust. Photo: Casey Nelson/Title Nine, 2021

We won $5,000 in Scholarship support for our Richmond Roots program!

A huge thank you to Title Nine for all of your confidence in us, and for teaching us how to pitch!

Click here to read an excerpt from our Pitch!

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