The Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation awards ceremony and banquet will feature keynote speaker Johnny Cupcakes.

On April 27, approximately 450 attendees (including students, area college professors and administrators, community leaders, and commercial lending professionals) will join entrepreneur and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon for the 8th Annual Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony and Banquet.

Hosted by Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation (HGCF), the banquet is the culmination of a year's worth of outreach, teaching, and efforts in promoting entrepreneurship as a viable career opportunity to college students in the Pioneer Valley. 

In the 2010-2011 academic year, HGCF Entrepreneurship Initiative awarded $30,000 directly to students in recognition of their "entrepreneurial spirit" as demonstrated by their efforts to launch their own businesses.

At the banquet, students will market their businesses during the social hour, and later in the program, will be recognized with awards.

Additional program highlights include:

  • Live "Elevator Pitch Competition"-One student from each of the participating institutions competes to deliver the best 90 second pitch for a new business concept. The competition is sponsored by Berkshire Bank, Country Bank for Savings, First Niagara Bank, PeoplesBank, People's United Bank, and United Bank. Vice Presidents for Commercial Lending will serve as judges. Winners are announced at the end of the evening. First place ($1,000), second place $750) and third place $500) winners will be chosen.

  • 2011 Grinspoon, Garvey & Young "Alumni Spirit Award" Winner Announced-A former entrepreneurial spirit award winner will be named for achieving success with the business idea for which they were originally awarded. Named for Mr. Grinspoon's longtime business partners, Mr. Bill Young and Mr. Tom Garvey, this award recognizes one individual. All four finalists have business located in the Pioneer Valley.

This year's keynote speaker for the event is Mr. Johnny Earle, founder of Johnny Cupcakes, one of the most recognized T-shirt brands in the U.S., with stores in Boston, Los Angeles, and London.  

Some Mr. Earle's accolades include: 

  • Named #237 in INC Magazine's 2009 list of "Top 500 Fastest Growing Small Companies in America"
  • Named "America's #1 Young Entrepreneur (Under Age 25)" by Business Week magazine in 2008
  • Named "2007 Rookie of the Year" by the MA Retail Organization


Launched in 2003 as the brainchild of local entrepreneur and real estate expert Harold Grinspoon, the HGCF Entrepreneurship Initiative enlists the support of faculty advisors at area institutions to:

  • Teach at least one entrepreneurship class per year.
  • Mentor students who are interested in starting businesses.
  • Oversee entrepreneurship and business clubs.
  • Oversee a whole host of additional outreach activities throughout the year to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

Participating institutions include American International College, Bay Path College, Elms College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, Smith College, Springfield College, Springfield Technical Community College, University of Massachusetts, Western New England College, and Westfield State University.