The Moxie Foundation awarded for philanthropic generosity

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by Jacob Sisneros, Senior Staff Writer

The Moxie Foundation’s latest donation of $5.1 million helped it win the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization award last week.

The San Diego chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored The Moxie Foundation at a luncheon on Nov. 9  in celebration of the 43rd annual National Philanthropy Day.

Dani Dawson, president of the AFP San Diego chapter, said more than 1,200 people attended the National Philanthropy Day luncheon and nine honorees were chosen from a field of more than 100 nominees.

Dawson said The Moxie Foundation was chosen for the Outstanding Philanthropic Organization award for its work in the San Diego community and specifically with the entrepreneur community at SDSU.

“We want to highlight the time, talent and treasure of the philanthropic community in San Diego,” she said.

The Zahn Innovation Center at SDSU was created with earlier donations by The Moxie Foundation, which was founded in 1998 by Irwin Zahn.

The $5.1 million donation will be used to create the Zahn Innovation Platform, the Zahn Chair of Creativity and Innovation, the Zahn Professorship of Creativity and Innovation, and the Irwin Spirit of Innovation Prize.

The Zahn Innovation Platform will be housed in the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex, which is set to open in 2018 along with Lavin Entrepreneurship Center under the new name of the William E. Leonhard Entrepreneurship Center.

Irwin’s son, Peter Zahn, the president and director of The Moxie Foundation, said the goal of the new center is to open up entrepreneurship opportunities to everybody on campus.

“While of course we would love to see engineering and students in there, as well, the idea is really to create campus-wide interdisciplinary teams,” Zahn said. “That’s when experiences and mentors can be the most fulfilling, when there really is inclusion of a wide range of members in the university community and the disciplines that they are studying.”

Zahn said he is looking forward to the expanded Zahn Innovation Platform and hopes to attract more people to SDSU’s entrepreneurship opportunities.

“I think San Diego State already plays a significant role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the San Diego region,” he said. “There are great contributions made by faculty, staff and students in terms of adding to the body of knowledge, starting new ventures and mentoring and helping others in the community who want to start new ventures.”

Zahn said entrepreneurship involves risk taking, empathy and the flexibility to change courses if things aren’t going as planned.

“The idea is that you really keep reassessing and looking for new ways to accomplish your objectives,” he said.

Irwin and Peter Zahn are originally from the New York area so they named their foundation The Moxie Foundation after the word “moxie,” a term from the Northeast used for generations to mean guts or determination.

Zahn said there is even a Moxie soda that still exists in New England, although he said don’t go in with high expectations for the drink’s taste. On the other hand, Zahn said he has nothing but high hopes  for entrepreneurship in San Diego.

“My hope is that in the future entrepreneurship is going to become embedded in the ethos of the university culture,” he said.

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