Local businesses are vying for the chance to receive a new philanthropic UF award.  

UF’s Center for Leadership and Service is partnering with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Initiative and Advantage Publishing Inc. to award Alachua County businesses with the first ever Purpose 20 Award.

Twenty local businesses that demonstrate active involvement in the community will receive this award.

Businesses eligible for this award advocate, donate and volunteer time toward community causes.

The Center for Leadership and Service awards students and nonprofit organizations throughout the year for their local community service projects.

“We realized that out of our annual impact awards, we were highlighting students and nonprofits, but there weren’t many things we were doing to highlight businesses,” said Angela Garcia, director of community engagement and service-learning at the Center for Leadership and Service.

Kristin Joos, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Initiative director, said Garcia invited the group to collaborate on the award because of its close work with businesses, like the ones the award was designed to celebrate.

“The intent of the Purpose 20 Award is to both celebrate such inspirational and impactful local entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, and in doing so, hopefully raise awareness of their work,” Joos said.

The center first discussed the idea for the award in the spring. Over the summer, center representatives met with Advantage Publishing’s Business In the Heart of Florida magazine.

The winning businesses will be showcased in the April 2015 issue of Business In the Heart of Florida.

“We hope that coverage of these 20 award recipients will continue to educate and inspire our readership, while highlighting the positive impact that the 20 businesses have on our community,” said Erica Brown, director of communications and marketing for Advantage Publishing.

Businesses can be nominated or apply for the award until Nov. 14.

A committee will select the winning businesses in December. The committee will be made up of prominent members of the local community and representatives from the three sponsors. 

“It’s exciting to see so many local business leaders so engaged and invested in doing well and doing good,” Joos said. “ These businesses all believe in using the power of business as a force for good in the world.” 

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/31/2014]