The Delta Emerging Leaders (DELs) serve as the official associate board of Delta Institute and advance Delta’s mission by expanding its network of supporters, donors, and partners through events and initiatives that engage new and diverse audiences.
For example, the DELs host an annual live, crowd-funding pitch competition called BOOST for sustainable start-up businesses that help make Chicago a thriving, environmentally conscientious city to live and work in. BOOST brings together social entrepreneurs with unique and innovative projects to pitch their concepts to a live audience. Audience members vote with their ticket contributions to determine winners who each receive $5,000 BOOST grants. Grant funds are raised by the Delta Emerging Leaders through sponsorship and ticket sales.
BOOST is the flagship annual event for the Delta Emerging Leaders. Since 2012, BOOST has been a platform for early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative products and services to provide sustainable change in the Midwest.
In 2020, the DELs hosted BOOST as a virtual showcase for the first time, welcoming hundreds of supporters across the country to participate in selecting this year’s winners. BOOST 2020 was generously sponsored by People’s Gas, RW Ventures, Carbon Yield, Nanci Garoon Leigner, Walter S. Mander Foundation, 8 Rivers, Chicago Leadership Alliance, Loyola University Chicago School of Environmental Sustainability, and Wolfe Computer Associates, Inc.
On November 17, 2020, Delta announced that Zumwalt Acres—a regenerative agriculture initiative in Sheldon, Illinois—was the newest winner of the annual BOOST award with a $5,000 grant to further develop their venture. To date, BOOST has awarded $65,000 to emerging entrepreneurs in sustainability while also providing support of Delta Institute’s overarching mission.
2020 BOOST FINALISTS
- Chicago Environmental Educators
- Zumwalt Acres*
2012 BOOST FINALISTS
- Every Last Morsel*
- Health as Wealth
- Storybooks for Sustainability
- The Plant
*BOOST Grant Winners