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At ‘The Pitch,’ social innovators compete for game-changing funding — and Dallas wins

Get tickets now for the annual United Way of Metropolitan Dallas contest.

In baseball, the pitch is everything. At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, the same is true — the nonprofit’s annual search for the next Social Innovator of the Year culminates in The Pitch, presented by AT&T, an online event this year, taking place Oct. 28.

It’s an opportunity for competitors to get an infusion of additional funding for their ventures and to share their innovative solutions with the world. Viewers can vote for one of the finalists with the purchase of a $15 ticket.

This is the fourth annual pitch event for participants in the United Way Dallas Social Innovator Accelerator. The program encourages bold new solutions to challenges in United Way’s areas of focus: education, income and health in North Texas. Other event sponsors include the Kleinert family, Santander, Sara and Gary Ahr, The Satori Foundation and Toyota.

Accelerating growth, stability

“The United Way Social Innovation Accelerator (SIA) in collaboration with Accenture provides entrepreneurs with the critical resources — funding, mentorship and community connections — to accelerate the growth and stability of their innovative ventures,” says Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way Dallas. “United Way leads social innovation in the region, exemplified by the design, development and implementation of United Way-led initiatives such as Southern Dallas Thrives, as well as our Social Innovator Accelerator. Social innovation is key to achieving our Aspire United 2030 community goals, which aim to put opportunity in the hands of all North Texans.”

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas leads community-wide collaborative efforts to strengthen education, income and health through a set of goals designed to drive transformative, systemic change across next decade.

BY LYNN DICKINSON, SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR

In a world that’s constantly changing, particularly now amid a global pandemic, United Way Dallas continually looks for new ways to address the challenges that come with that change. And as the world spins, United Way adapts, while also bringing novel solutions to long-standing social problems — solutions that are more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than current solutions.

At The Pitch, a total of $235,000 in funding is on the line for the five United Way SIA fellows who are selected as finalists. Each fellow will have five minutes plus a short Q&A with the judges to present his or her ideas to strengthen education, income and health in the North Texas community.

Each fellow will receive $40,000 for reaching the finals; a $15,000 Judges Prize will be awarded to Social Innovator of the Year. Additionally, there will be two $10,000 prizes — the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, presented by The Satori Foundation, and the Audience Choice Award, presented by Toyota. Event judges will evaluate and score each pitch based on impact, innovation, sustainability and presentation.

And the finalists are …

These five organizations will be pitching at The Pitch:

  • Better Block Foundation, which educates, equips and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods.
  • Carson’s Village, which helps families navigate the challenging decisions they face after the sudden death of a loved one.
  • EdCor Health, which works alongside a Southern Dallas community providing access to health and hope over decades of challenges that often plague disinvested communities of color.
  • Home Visit Project, which trains teachers to engage and partner with families to build authentic, trusting relationships through home visits to ensure every child is socially, emotionally and academically successful.
  • Trey Athletes, which empowers athletes to become lifelong leaders, unlocking their potential to serve as societal change-makers, representative role models and influential voices for underserved communities.
Carson’s Village Executive Director Jason Dyke prepares to deliver his pitch. His organization helps families navigate the challenging decisions they face after the sudden death of a loved one.
Carson’s Village Executive Director Jason Dyke prepares to deliver his pitch. His organization helps families navigate the challenging decisions they face after the sudden death of a loved one.(Tamytha Cameron)

Anne Chow, CEO, AT&T Business and United Way Dallas’ campaign chair, will once again serve as the event emcee.

Judges include LaTisha Brandon, senior manager of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Celanese Corporation; Jorge Corral, Dallas office managing director, Accenture; Chris Kleinert, CEO, Hunt Investment Holdings LLC; and Amber Venz Box, co-founder of rewardStyle and Cherry.

“At Accenture, we believe when we put our greatest minds and creative ideas together, we can solve even the most pressing challenges in our community,” Corral says. “We’re proud of our collaboration with United Way, and each year at The Pitch, I look forward to witnessing the energy and passion of local innovators who are working to make a difference in the lives of North Texans.”

Chow adds, “Especially in these challenging and dynamic times, innovation is required to drive lasting impact in education, income and health, which are the building blocks that put opportunity in the hands of all North Texans. By identifying high-potential entrepreneurs with high-impact solutions, the Social Innovation Accelerator is another way that United Way is amplifying the work of the organization and its partners throughout the North Texas region.”

The new crew

At The Pitch, organizers will introduce a new class of Social Innovation Accelerator fellows:

  • Agape Resource & Assistance Center, a scalable and replicable affordable housing solution that supports residents to sustain or attain economic stability.
  • The Concilio, which has innovative “talk pedometer” that helps parents understand the importance of increasing their children’s exposure to early-language learning.
  • Connected Mind, a mental health triage tool that identifies troubling mental health conditions and provides school counselors with an instant mental health risk assessment in minutes.
  • Cornbread Hustle, the first-ever staffing agency for second chances, which changes lives by helping people with criminal records find meaningful employment.
  • Dwell With Dignity, a retail pop-up thrift shop where high-end furniture, art and accessories are sold at deep discounts to fund homes where domestic abuse survivors and their families can thrive.
  • Kimiya International, whose Fight Club has an interdisciplinary approach to addressing mental health care for women who are survivors of trauma, by integrating boxing, yoga, group talk therapy and/or journaling, and individual counseling.
  • To Be Like Me, an innovative disability awareness program, currently targeted to schools, that aims to build more inclusive communities through education and purposeful interaction.
  • Trusted World, which streamlines the labor-intensive work of accepting donations of food, clothing and personal care products for the nonprofit community with no-cost service and online inventory.
  • The Welman Project, which gives teachers the tools and creativity needed to provide equal education regardless of school funding by connecting educators in need of supplies and companies with surplus goods.

During The Pitch, United Way Dallas will also announce a new social impact partnership with Cherry, an on-demand platform that connects clients with independent nail technicians for manicure services. “Partnering with United Way has helped Cherry focus on our social mission of enabling female entrepreneurs to independently develop their career paths,” Venz Box says.

If you purchase a ticket for the event at unitedwaydallas.org/thepitch, you can vote for this year’s Audience Choice winner and gain exclusive access to the event platform and a meet-and-greet with this year’s finalists. United Way will also stream the event live on its Facebook and YouTube channels.

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Need support right away? Call us at 877-789-0722 or email us at help@carsonsvillage.org.