Viscardi Center to host second Virtual PitchFest on Nov. 19

Viscardi Center to host second Virtual PitchFest on Nov. 19
The Viscardi Center hosted its second annual Virtural PtichFest Competition, offering up to $75,000 in grants to disabled founders, in November. (Photo by Amelia Camurati)

Albertson’s Viscardi Center will host its second annual National Center for Disability Entrepreneurship Virtual PitchFest next month to help people with disabilities support their own businesses.

The event allows entrepreneurs with disabilities to share their business ideas with a panel of five judges for a chance to receive mentorship packages and grants worth up to $75,000.

The competition maintains the center’s mission to “empower innovative self-starters to achieve self-employment success,” according to a press release.

Last year, Virginia’s Susan Picerno got a package of branding materials worth $10,000 for winning the Audience Choice Award in the inaugural PtichFest for her company, Little Tiger Productions, which aimed to increase media portrayals of people with disabilities.

Picerno, a retired federal employee, had five minutes to pitch her idea to judges alongside other hopeful founders.

Speaking on the Nov. 19 event, John D. Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center since 2011, said the competition will enable leaders to step into their desired industries.

The National Center for Disability Entrepreneurship “was established to provide founders with a keen skill set and lead a movement to establish a business ecosystem for entrepreneurs with disabilities in the United States,” Kemp said. “The 2021 PitchFest will advance these goals by connecting aspiring founders with the opportunity to present to industry experts, secure funding and mentorships, and successfully launch their own businesses.”

The Viscardi Center has been a pioneer in disability leadership not only in Albertson but around the world.

Its original site was one of the first U.S. businesses to be staffed by people with disabilities when it was operating out of a garage in West Hempstead, helping disabled veterans become assembly and factory workers for several large industries including Grumman, GE, IBM and the Department of Defense.

Today, the school located in Viscardi Center enrolls more than 180 students with disabilities with nearly an 86 percent graduation and college acceptance rate. For adults and adolescents, transition planning services are available for testing and job placement.

The programs place more than 100 people in integrated employment annually while also providing advocacy and support beyond participants leaving the center.

More information on the competition can be found at

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