January 1, 2013


For Immediate Release


Citi Foundation’s Support of PowerUP! Has Infused Community with More Than $220,000 Since 2004

(Brooklyn, NY) January 5, 2012 – Brooklyn Public Library’s Eighth Annual PowerUP! Business Plan Competition, which strives to provide pivotal resources and funding to support the small business dreams of local entrepreneurs, will hold its annual awards ceremony at Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center on Tuesday, January 10, at 6 PM. The top prize of $15,000, plus over $5,000 in business assistance services, will help the winner turn his or her dream into a successful company. As of this year’s contest, over $220,000 in seed capital has been awarded to local entrepreneurs by the program’s sponsor, Citi Foundation.

Of the 109 Brooklyn participants who submitted business plans for this year’s competition, 13 have been selected to compete for more than $25,000 in prizes. The finalists include a niche craft store in Windsor Terrace, a sustainable seafood store in Park Slope, a Ditmas Park neighborhood café and more. A detailed list of finalists follows below. 

“Small business owners can provide a steady source of income for their families, as well as jobs and economic activity for their communities, while realizing their entrepreneurial dreams,” said Eileen Auld, Citi’s Regional Director for Community Development. “Citi is committed to empowering entrepreneurs with products and services and through programs like PowerUP! with Brooklyn Public Library.”

Since the competition started, Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! program has helped to launch 32 local small businesses, creating hundreds of jobs in the community. 

“Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Business Plan Competition has become an increasingly popular and valuable contribution to the start-up community. By offering a cash incentive, it encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to use the Library to do research, get advice and plan carefully,” said Maud Andrew, Brooklyn Public Library Programs and Outreach Specialist. “There are businesses throughout Brooklyn that particpated before they opened, and even if they didn’t win the top prize, they benefited from the experience.” 

For those interested in competing in PowerUP! next year, information will be available online beginning March 2012. In the meantime, please view this link for the most up-to-date information:

Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! Business Plan Competition’s Finalist Descriptions

Esther and David Betten, The Argyle Yarn Shop

A niche craft store offering knitting and crocheting supplies that opened in November 2011 in Windsor Terrace with plans to expand their inventory to offer fabrics and sewing supplies. 

Elizabeth Bishop and Rebecca Parker, Brooklyn Open Acupuncture

Based on the Community Acupuncture model, which offers affordable, individual treatment in small groups, this clinic uses a sliding pay scale and recently opened in downtown Brooklyn in September 2011.

Kari Browne, Lark Café 

The Lark Café is a neighborhood café/coffee shop in Ditmas Park where families can bring children and friends can meet. The café offers coffee, ice cream and even wine.

Laura Carroll and Dynishal Gross, City ’Lasses

Producers of Switzel, a blackstrap molasses-based, naturally nutritious drink. The beverage has been sold in local outdoor markets since spring 2011.

Jaclyn Carter, Love Jac 

A home-based greeting card company that offers creative cards, one-of-a-kind items and customized stationary.

Keri Cavanaugh, Owl and Thistle General Store

Opened July 2011 in Crown Heights, the Owl and Thistle General Store sells a variety of locally produced, environmentally sustainable and fair trade products in a nostalgic setting.

Omar Forrester, Gotham City Motor Sports

A retail automotive parts and accessories store that will provide high quality products and service from its location in East New York and also cater to auto enthusiasts throughout Brooklyn.

Bianca Piccillo and Mark Usewicz, Mermaid’s Garden 

A sustainable seafood store that will sell locally and seasonally sourced fish in Park Slope.

Chris Schneider and Ryan Powers, Shipwreck

An indoor theatrical miniature golf park with a pirate-themed course where golfers search for treasure.

Sonjie Feliciano Solomon, Hatch Things, Inc

A new product design company which introduced its first item this fall: Cold Snap, a coat-like extension that fastens to baby carriers to keep babies warm and dry in a snap.

Wayne Surber and Tracie Lee, Lonestar Taco 

A neighborhood counter service restaurant located in Bedford-Stuyvesant that will serve tacos, refreshments and specialties made from fresh ingredients.

Kayoko Suzuki-Lange and Poul Lang, Poyoko Studios 

Using iOS applications, this home-based business will create picture books for children that can be read, touched, heard and responded to on the iPad, iPhone and iPod.

Liz Tortoloni, The Well

A therapeutic spa offering wellness services for women to be located in Park Slope.

About Brooklyn Public Library:

Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a huge selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, job search help, literacy programs, public computers and the largest WiFi network in the borough. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, as well as catalog information, are available to customers 24 hours a day at our website:

About Citi:
Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 140 countries. Through Citicorp and Citi Holdings, Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at or

About the Citi Foundation:

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance and Microenterprise, Small and Growing Businesses, College and Careers, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Microenterprise and Small and Growing Businesses to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at


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