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Author: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Our Tocqueville Luncheon & 99th Annual Campaign Kickoff

Wednesday, Sept. 27 marked the start of our 99th Annual Campaign—the final campaign in our first 100 years of service to the North Texas community. We celebrated the occasion with United Way donors and volunteers, some of our most dedicated corporate partners, Tocqueville Society members and other members of the Live United movement at the Hilton Anatole.

The event included three important pieces of news: the announcement of significant investments from three of our most generous corporate partners, a new campaign chair, and the recipients of our most prestigious award, the J. Erik Jonsson Award.

Announcing $3.5 Million in Investments

In her opening remarks, Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, announced that we’re beginning our new campaign year with a strong start of $3.5 million in investments to support our Aspire United 2030 community impact goals. Thank you to Comerica and Vistra, each of whom announced gifts of $1 million, and to Celanese, which announced a gift of $1.5 million.

These generous gifts will enable United Way to continue to create measurable impact in the areas of education, income and health in the coming years. This investment will fund life-changing programs for 1.6 million North Texans—or more—each year.

New Campaign Leadership

During the event, we had the opportunity to thank our Campaign Chair for the past year, Jean Savage, CEO of Trinity Industries, who demonstrated incredible leadership and truly delivered for our North Texas community. We were also thrilled to welcome Curt Farmer, chairman, president and CEO of Comerica Incorporated and Comerica Bank, as Campaign Chair for our 99th Annual Campaign year.

CEOs Discuss Challenges and Opportunities

The kickoff celebration also included a panel discussion featuring Farmer, as well as two other local business leaders: Antonio Carrillo, president and CEO, of Arcosa; and Tom Luce, founder and chairman emeritus of Texas 2036. The panel was moderated by Katrice Hardy, executive editor of The Dallas Morning News.

The CEO panel included key issues that impact our region, including:

  • The greatest risks and opportunities facing North Texas
  • The importance of policy and advocacy in driving meaningful change
  • United Way’s role as a corporate social responsibility partner and advisor
  • Examples of businesses partnering with United Way to create meaningful change through targeted initiatives

View a video of the CEO panel below.

J. Erik Jonsson Award: Honoring Two of Our Most Dedicated Supporters

Finally, we closed out the event by announcing the 2023 recipients of the J. Erik Jonsson Award, our highest honor for volunteer service. This year, we’re thrilled to honor both Karen and Tom Falk, who for decades have shown an unwavering commitment to United Way’s mission to create opportunity and access for all North Texans to thrive.

Learn more about the Falks and the J. Erik Jonsson Award on our blog:
Click here

Karen and Tom Falk Receive United Way’s Highest Honor for Volunteer Service

About the J. Erik Jonsson Award

The J. Erik Jonsson Award was created by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Board of Directors in 1978 in honor of one of the city’s greatest leaders. Jonsson, whose vision and leadership can be seen across Dallas, was a co-founder and the first president of Texas Instruments and served as mayor of Dallas for four terms. He also co-founded United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Jonsson built the foundation for an organized system of funding needed for health and human services through the private sector, marshalling support of the corporate community and its leadership. This legacy continues today as our organization works with the entire Live United movement to change lives in North Texas through education, income and health.

Each year, United Way honors one of our most passionate supporters with the J. Erik Jonsson Award, in recognition of their incredible investment of time and energy into making North Texas a better place for everyone to live and work. This year, Karen and Tom Falk join a prestigious list of past recipients whose dedication for our community is truly inspiring.

Meet Karen and Tom Falk

For decades, the Falks have shown an unwavering commitment to United Way’s mission to create opportunity and access for all North Texans to thrive.

Karen and Tom have demonstrated true leadership at United Way for many years. Tom served as CEO of Kimberly-Clark Corporation, one of our corporate partners and one of the biggest supporters of our Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, which provided immediate relief and supported long-term rebuilding for our neighbors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen and Tom both served as Annual Campaign chairs for United Way during the height of COVID-19 pandemic, bringing in significant investment and even dedicating their own funds to ensure we could support our neighbors through the unprecedented crisis. At every turn, their thoughtful, strategic and servant-minded leadership was a steady hand guiding our ship.

Congratulations to both Karen and Tom, and thank you again for your passion, energy and enthusiasm for improving access to education, income and health across North Texas.

Our Past Recipients


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Announcing the 2023-24 Women of Tocqueville Steering Committee

We are excited to announce the 2023-2024 Women of Tocqueville Steering Committee comprised of 22 corporate and community leaders.

2023-2024 Steering Committee

  • Michelle Horton


    Principal, PwC
  • Vanessa Salinas Beckstrom


    Investigations & Forensics Partner, PwC

The Women of Tocqueville Steering Committee provides strategic direction and leadership for over 400 Women of Tocqueville by working with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to support and promote United Way’s community goals to improve education, income, and health in North Texas.

Since 2008, the mighty, mighty Women of Tocqueville have created a lasting impact here in our community through their advocacy, volunteerism, and the money raised to create opportunity for all North Texans to thrive.

Click Here to View Our 2022-23 Impact Outcomes

Results & Impact

  • $5.8M +

    in Gifts

  • 144 +

    Community Partners Supported

  • 1,000 +

    volunteer hours advancing education, income, and health outcomes

Lasting change only happens when we work together. We hope you will join us in building on the impact made in the past year by joining and engaging with fellow Women of Tocqueville throughout the year.

Thank you to the steering committee and to all the mighty, mighty Women of Tocqueville for your commitment and support to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. It is going to be a great year!

Upcoming Events

  • 98th Campaign Celebration, 99th Campaign Kickoff, Tocqueville Luncheon

    September 27, 2023

    Location: TBD
  • Incubator Orientation

    October 2, 2023

    Time: TBD
    Location: Dallas College

  • WOT Joy!

    December 13

    Time: TBD
    Location: Neiman Marcus, North Park Mall

Activities subject to change. For more information, please contact

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Message from Michelle Horton, 2023-2024 Women of Tocqueville Chair

I am honored to serve as the 2023-2024 Chair for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Women of Tocqueville. In my past five years serving on the WOT Steering Committee, I have been fortunate enough to team with several great women leaders in this role before me, including my good friend, Mandy Austin, who led us to give, advocate, and volunteer to deliver significant impact across North Texas this past year. I am thrilled to announce that Vanessa Salinas Beckstrom, Partner, PwC, and my longtime colleague and friend, will join me in leading our efforts as WOT Vice Chair. Together with our incredible WOT Steering Committee, we are dedicated to continuing the legacy of impact across North Texas in support of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Aspire United 2030 goals.

Our mighty, mighty Women of Tocqueville are a passionate, influential, and FUN! network of corporate and community leaders focused on creating opportunity for all North Texans to thrive. We are at an exciting point in the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ journey as we march toward 2025, the centennial anniversary of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. What a wonderful time to be engaged in the Women of Tocqueville, making history, and creating lasting impact across our community for hundreds of years to come – we invite you to bring your friends and join us!

In alignment with our Aspire United 2030 goals, this year we will continue to focus on strengthening the building blocks of education, impact, and health. As a business professional focused in the healthcare industry, and an adult sandwiched between aging parents and thriving youth children, I have a particular interest in the Aspire United 2030 impact area of health. Physical and mental health are foundational in driving school success for our children and economic outcomes for adults. Our focus areas for 2023-2024, are as follows:

  • Diversity – Cultivate and broaden our outreach to the diverse ethnic, industry, and community sectors around us.
  • Health – Foster access to physical + mental health care in the communities we serve. Activate current and former WOT Steering Committee and members as resources to build awareness on the mission and impact of WOT and ways to engage with WOT.
  • Impact – Generate initiatives aligned to support UWMD Aspire United 2030 Goals through giving, advocacy, and volunteerism.

We will have many opportunities to connect in person, volunteer, advocate, and give this year alongside our Women of Tocqueville, as well as the broader Tocqueville Society leading into the Centennial. The calendar is already filled with opportunities for us to connect and engage with each other. In September alone, we hosted a book launch for our very own, Rachel Simon, WOT Steering Committee member and now author, and we have our Tocqueville UWMD Campaign Impact Celebration and Kickoff Luncheon (September 27th – RSVP today). We also have a full list of activities planned for you to get involved socially or through volunteer events – we hope to see you there!

I feel so privileged to be able to lead alongside this wonderful group of women this year. The brightness and light that you all bring to our community is inspiring. I’m looking forward to our continued impact.

Together we SHINE! … With Servant Hearts We Inspire Our Neighbors To Engage In Our Community.

Michelle Horton
2023-2024 Women of Tocqueville Chair
Principal, PwC


Vanessa Salinas Beckstrom
2023-2024 Women of Tocqueville Vice Chair
Investigations & Forensics Partner, PwC


A Message from our CEO


Dear Change-Seekers,
Together, we did it again! As we close the fiscal year at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, I’m pleased to report that, collectively, we once again proved that when we LIVE UNITED, we can bring about positive long-lasting change that creates the access and opportunity for all North Texans to thrive.

Thanks to supporters like you, together we improved access to education, income and health for 1.6 million North Texans – improvements that measurably change the trajectories for individuals and families in all pockets of our community.

As we wrap up our 98th year of impact in North Texas, United Way has stayed true to its mission, creating and investing in programs and partnerships that address the systemic challenges that affect too many of our neighbors. With social innovation layered throughout our approach to driving change, we are making steady progress toward our community-wide Aspire United 2030 goals and commitment to equity.

Driving lasting change for 1.6 million North Texans

In the last year, United Way’s programs and partnerships positively impact the lives of 1.6 million North Texans
in the areas of education, income and health.


In education, together we enable more North Texas students to graduate high school prepared for success in college or career with initiatives that include:

  • College and Career Fairs

    These programs expose students to the resources, experiences and skills needed to succeed in college or a career. Over the last year, United Way college and career readiness events engaged
    535 North Texas scholars—and enabled volunteers to be part of this inspiring work.

  • Digital Connections

    powered by AT&T

    In January 2022, United Way began distributing laptops and hot spots through AT&T’s $1 million grant to enable young Southern Dallas residents to access education, further their learning, and stay connected in the classroom and beyond. In 2022 alone, the program distributed more than
    2,000 laptops and 1,500 hotspots across Southern Dallas and trained over 80 individuals through digital skills classes. And as a testament to the impact of this work, the TI Foundation, the McDermott Foundation and the Templeton Foundation recently joined AT&T with financial investments expanding this critically important work.

    View More

  • Heal Play Learn

    with Texas Instruments Foundation and Educate Texas

    Each summer, this initiative brings social emotional support and experiential learning to students in the DeSoto, Cedar Hill and Lancaster school districts. More than 30 high school interns will help facilitate the hands-on STEAM learning activities, giving them an opportunity to explore teaching as a profession and earn while they are learning.

    Learn More


In income, United Way creates measurable impact through programs that encourage financial stability, including:

  • Targeted Eviction Prevention Program (TEPP)

    This innovative pilot program seeks to prevent evictions by working directly with local families. TEPP provides comprehensive case management to 100 households on the verge of eviction to help stabilize their lives and keep families in their homes.

    Learn More

  • The Dallas Technology Training Consortium

    Funded through a $2.2 million grant from the City of Dallas, the initiative provides IT and technology skills training to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 recession. The program is serving 630 Dallas residents over a two-year period, in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Dallas, NPower and Per Scholas.

  • Dollars for College

    This popular program makes it easy for students to begin to save for college, with a trusted and accessible way to open a college savings account. Last year, United Way and its supporters opened 229 Dollars for College accounts with total deposits exceeding $191,000.

    Learn More


In health, United Way programs and partnerships enable North Texans to live longer, healthier lives, including:

  • Healthcare Navigation

    This initiative provides grants to train and certify Healthcare Navigators, who help uninsured North Texans compare, understand and select plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace or through CHIP/Medicaid, as well as apply for subsidies to lower their monthly premiums. During our fiscal year, our navigators enabled 5,944 North Texans to quickly and easily sign up for health coverage.

    Learn More

  • Doorways to Health

    This new community partnership, with support from Deloitte and United Way Worldwide, seeks to improve the maternal health outcomes of Black women by offering a variety of resources and programming, including home visiting and holistic maternal healthcare services, to ensure new and expecting mothers have the support necessary to thrive.

  • The North Texas Summer and Supper Council

    This hunger-prevention program ensures students who rely on federally funded meal programs during the school year continue to get daily, nutritious food during summer months. In 2022, the program supported summer meals programs as they provided an incredible 55.6 million meals to students across Dallas and Collin counties.

    Learn More

In addition to these targeted programs, during this year’s Texas legislative session United Way and its supporters advocated tirelessly for policy change in education, income and health. Thanks to the work of hundreds of advocates – making phone calls, sharing information on social media and even advocating in person at the state capitol – the Live United movement helped advance and call attention to legislation that has a direct impact on North Texans’ everyday lives.

United together, advocating with our partners, we helped to ensure better health outcomes for moms across Texas through a bill sponsored by Rep. Toni Rose that extends Medicaid health insurance for moms to 12 months after pregnancy. This is a significant step in the right direction to improve women’s health in Texas and aligns directly with our Aspire United 2030 goals.

Growing investment in the future of our community

Over the past year, United Way’s initiatives had a direct impact on nearly 20% of the population in the fourth-largest metro area in the United States. This would not have been possible without your investment of just over $50 million, more than a 50% increase year over year. The latest GivingUSA report may show a decline in giving nationally, but we’re incredibly grateful for the continued and growing generosity of North Texas donors to create impact and opportunity for all of our neighbors to thrive. Highlights from the last 12 months include:

  • Continued investment in United Way targeted impact initiatives, including Healthcare Navigators; Pathways to Work; Heal Play Learn, funded by the Texas Instruments Foundation; and Southern Dallas Thrives, co-created with the support of Frito-Lay and PepsiCo Foods North America.

  • 39 entrepreneurial ventures graduated from our Social Innovation Lab programs, powered by Accenture, including 10 Accelerator alumni and 19 Incubator alumni. Over the past decade, our social innovation alumni have gone on to raise over $51.6 million, build more than 1,600 partnerships and serve more than 268,000 North Texans.

  • The start of our latest three-year investment in 144 diverse community impact partners working together to achieve our Aspire United 2030 community goals that drive impact in education, income and health. From 2022 to 2025, we will invest $45 million in these local organizations, a total that includes a historic $15 million gift from The Perot Foundation, the largest single investment in United Way’s 98-year history.

Looking to the future

We are incredibly fortunate that United Way consistently attracts an extraordinary group of individuals who serve the North Texas community by investing their time and talent.

Our Boards of Directors play a significant role in providing the governance and guidance that enables United Way in Dallas to drive lasting change across the community. As United Way looks back on a successful fiscal year, I’d like to extend warm gratitude to Board Chairs Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, and Terri West, chair of the Texas Instruments Foundation. Their unwavering vision, dedication, and passion for creating a North Texas community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive strengthened the foundation and paved the way for our work this past year.

We owe our campaign chair, Jean Savage, CEO of Trinity Industries, an enormous debt of gratitude for successfully leading our annual campaign this year. And I’m confident that United Way’s next annual campaign chair, Curt Farmer, CEO of Comerica Incorporated and Comerica Bank, will build upon this incredible momentum as we work to create impact in our 99th year of service to North Texas.

And I am so thankful for the significant contributions of our Ruth Sharp Altshuler Tocqueville leaders who have worked so hard to engage all of our donors and recruit over 100 new Tocqueville members this year. Thanks to our Tocqueville co-chairs Erin Nealy Cox, former US Attorney for the Northern District and Partner at Kirkland & Ellis, and Trey Cox, Partner for Gibson Dunn; our $25,000 Tocqueville Circle Co-Chairs Laura Downing and Jason Downing, Chief Operating Officer, Client & Market Growth at Deloitte; and our Women of Tocqueville Chair Mandy Austin, Dallas Market President, Bank of Texas.

Together, we’re changing lives

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has been at the forefront in creating access and opportunities for all North Texans to thrive for the last 98 years.
I invite everyone to be a part of this incredible Live United movement. Together, we will continue to drive measurable impact across the region – creating positive change for 1.6 million of our neighbors every year – with a focus on Southern Dallas and other historically under-resourced areas of our community.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Sampson
McDermott-Templeton President & CEO

2022-2023 Leadership
  • Jean Savage

    Annual Campaign Chair

  • Steven Williams

    Chair, Board of Directors

  • Charlene Lake

    Vice Chair, Board of Directors

  • Michelle Vopni

    Treasurer, Board of Directors

  • Terri West

    Chair, United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas

  • Jennifer Sampson

    McDermott-Templeton President & CEO

Ruth Sharp Altshuler Tocqueville Society
  • Tocqueville Campaign Co-Chairs:

    Erin Nealy Cox
    Trey Cox

  • Tocqueville Circle Co-Chairs:

    Laura Downing
    Jason Downing

  • Women of Tocqueville Chair:

    Mandy Austin

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Year-end Message from Mandy Austin, Women of Tocqueville Chair

To our Mighty, Mighty Women of Tocqueville,

If they say that time flies when you’re having fun, well then it moves at light speed when you’re having fun and making an impact– making an impact is what this incredible group of change-makers is all about. It has truly been an honor to lead the efforts of the mighty, mighty Women of Tocqueville and to serve alongside the most passionate, philanthropic, mission-driven women in North Texas. While it is hard to believe that my time as Chair is coming to a close, it is with immense pride and gratitude that I reflect on the accomplishments and impact of this remarkable group over the last 12 months. Oh, how we have shined! Our theme this year was “Together we SHINE!” With Servant Hearts we Inspire our Neighbors to Engage in our community.

Together, we took “engagement” to new heights thanks to the leadership of our 22 fabulous Steering Committee members and the partnership with our UWMD liaisons Deborah Arango, Susan Hutcheson, and Jamie Winholtz. I am thrilled to report that the 2022-2023 UWMD campaign year has been a tremendous success for the mighty, mighty Women of Tocqueville. With your support, we increased the frequency and expanded the geographic scope of our “Connections” networking events, we demonstrated the strength and reach of our collective network through in-person advocacy efforts, and we invested in the future of social impact innovation through the Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children. All these efforts advance UWMD’s efforts toward ensuring that all North Texans have access to the building blocks of opportunity—education, income, and health. The awareness that this incredibly talented group of professional, philanthropic, mission-focused women brings to these critical issues is truly unmatched. I am continually inspired by the leadership, drive, and passion of our dynamic members.

  • Caterpillar themed counting boxes

  • Women of Tocqueville Steering Committee Retreat

  • WOT Cups of Cheer 11.2.22

    Teacher appreciation ‘Cups of Cheer’

Many of our engagement efforts this year were centered in early childhood education–the foundation for a lifetime of success. Whether we were building caterpillar-themed counting boxes for the ChildCareGroup, compiling “Cups of Cheer” teacher appreciation gifts, reading to the young scholars at Hotchkiss Elementary School, mentoring students at Lincoln High School, or nurturing the next generation of students through our virtual baby shower for new and expectant mothers—we helped to provide a solid foundation of learning and growth for North Texas’ next generation. Before we know it, this next generation will be the “now” generation.

Each of nearly 500 WOT members serves as inspiration for this next generation of philanthropic leaders, many of whom were present at this year’s Most Generous Next Generation networking and professional development event, presented by PwC and supported by Vistra, which highlighted the great importance of community engagement and the impact of United Way’s Southern Dallas Thrives initiative. We learned from these young professionals and community leaders that they are not the “Most Generous Next Generation” … they are the “Most Generous Now Generation.” It was such an inspiration to hear the passion that this generation of young leaders has toward driving positive change in our community in their daily lives.

We also celebrated the first all-woman cohort of UWMD’s Social Innovation Incubator during the Incubator Debut Night in which 18 impressive social entrepreneurs showcased their ventures that will help to close opportunity and resource gaps and inequities across North Texas. Our commitment to these entrepreneurs and to future social innovation was made clear with our investment from the Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children—the first ever Women of Tocqueville led fund.

When a group of inspired women coalesce around a cause, there is nothing that can stop us—which is exactly why we headed to the Texas Capitol in Austin under the guidance and direction of United Way’s own, Stephanie Mace. In March, 24 of our dynamic advocates met with 30 legislative offices to advocate for UWMD’s legislative priorities, including housing stability for low-income workers, expanding child abuse prevention programs, increasing access to school-based mental health services, and modernizing the 211 Texas information referral network. We advocate because we know that systemic change can be achieved through the actions of state lawmakers.

With such impactful events and engagement opportunities, it is easy to see how we are accelerating the growth of Women of Tocqueville here in North Texas. When good work is being done, others want to be a part of it. In 2022-2023, we added 71 new members, and counting, to our Women of Tocqueville ranks. Thanks to the tremendous outreach efforts and network of this incredible group, the momentum is strong.

On this wave of positive momentum, I am proud to pass the torch of leadership on to the powerhouse leader with a servant heart, my partner-in-purpose and Chair-Elect, Michelle Horton. Michelle has served brilliantly by my side throughout the last year. Michelle – Cyber, Risk & Regulatory Partner / PwC Lead Client Partner – is a highly respected business leader whose positivity radiates through all that she does, and I know that she will lead us to new heights in the year ahead!

With gratitude,

Mandy J. Austin
2022-2023 Women of Tocqueville Chair
Dallas Market President, Bank of Texas


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Inspiring the Next Generation to Leave North Texas Better Than They Found It

Vanessa Salinas Beckstrom: Michael, you’ve mentioned that being a leader can come with challenges. Talk to us about that and how you ensure you’re holding your own in key conversations and decisions when you’ve encountered those challenges.

Michael Thomas: I’ve been the executive director at My Possibilities now for 13 years. And I will say that when you’re in your 20s and early 30s, it’s challenging to gain the respect necessary to really make decisions or challenge decisions. There’s an element of being bold and just doing it over and over again until the people in the room finally nod and say, “Yeah, this guy isn’t terrible.”

The interesting challenge now is, 13 years ago I was the young person on staff, and now I’ve got a bunch of Gen Z, fresh out of college. My challenge today is ensuring that my staff who are baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and incoming Alpha are all jibing in the same culture. That’s tough.

Beckstrom: Ashley, what inspired you to give back and focus on the community?

Ashley Sharp: I began my career in the arts, and there came a point where I couldn’t watch someone pay $5 million for a piece of art and then complain about their seating at a fancy dinner and then do nothing for the people who are asking for money on the streets. That was a huge eye-opener for me. On my son’s second birthday, I woke up to a text message from my now ex-husband, and it said he had been arrested for his fifth DUI….After seeing that things were not going to change, I packed up my child in the middle of the night, I put my clothes in trash bags and I left.

I have a master’s degree, I had a good job—but I was homeless. I was literally living in my car. It can happen to anybody at any time. And Dwell with Dignity came along at the perfect moment. I don’t just empathize with our families; I am our families. We know what it’s like to not have a safe place of your own, and I don’t want that for any family in Dallas. The work that we do isn’t just important; it’s my life.

Beckstrom: As you’ve grown in your career, how do you balance all the demands that confront you and ensure that you stay centered on your mission of community engagement?

Harsh Agarwal: It’s hard. A good friend recently told me there are three stages of life: learning, earning and returning. You spend the first third of your life going to school and college, get a job and work until you retire, and then you start giving back. My dad was in that mode. He was a very successful executive in India. But he didn’t get a chance to get to the returning phase. So for me and my brother, we have a responsibility, what I call the burden of our family wealth, to be stewards of this capital. And when I heard about the “learning, earning, returning,” I thought, “That’s BS.” Why can’t we learn throughout our lives, why can’t you earn throughout your life and why can’t you return throughout your life?

Beckstrom: What actions are you looking to take to continue to drive impact on a bigger scale, and what advice do you give to those in the room that want to do the same and bring along others in their generation?

Short: I think the biggest thing for us as a nonprofit is that we don’t actually operate on a traditional philanthropic funding model. We operate on earned revenue. Sixty-five percent of the money that comes to Dwell with Dignity is through our thrift store, Thrift Studio. By buying a building, we’re able to increase our impact, because now something that used to be a four-week pop-up is going to be generating revenue throughout the year. Thinking of things from an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset is going to be the big thing for nonprofits as we look to scale. The old fundraising models have to go away. We need to be taking bold action.

I also think our generations are going to be able to engage in new ways. We always say that we want your time, your talents and your treasures. There are so many talents out there; don’t think that you just have to give your money. There are so many ways to get your hands dirty. I invite everyone to find something that you’re passionate about, something that speaks to your soul and go all in.

Agarwal: I actually disagree that we can’t all give back. It could be $5, $10. The money is important to the nonprofit, but to you, just giving a small amount will bring you more joy. The act of giving is more powerful than anything. So I say, automate it, just like your 401(k) contribution.

Thomas: The last couple years have really pulled momentum away from the nonprofit sector. It’s beginning to move now, and the organizations that are going to make the biggest impact in Dallas and the surrounding communities are the ones with the biggest vision and the boldest plan to go do it. My thought there is, look for the organizations that are talking big—who say, for example, we want to get rid of homelessness in Dallas—that’s the org that you should be getting into. My hope, in the next 10 years or so, as you all are getting into the philanthropic world, wherever you find your passion, dig in and stay committed. Philanthropy doesn’t change overnight, so find what you care about and commit to becoming a key part of the organization’s growth.

Be Part of the Next Generation of Change-Seekers

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Click here to learn more about joining Emerging Leaders.

After Debut Night, Graduates of Our First All-Woman Social Innovation Incubator Cohort Are Ready to Change Lives

Last month, the first all-woman cohort of our Social Innovation Incubator took a meaningful step: Eighteen inspiring social entrepreneurs presented their ventures to an engaging room of North Texas change-seekers at Debut Night—the culmination of their 12-week experience in the Incubator program.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, social innovation is part of everything we do to improve access to education, income and health. The Social Innovation Incubator is one example of our social innovation work in action. Its mission is to address historical opportunity and resource gaps, as well as systemic racial and gender inequities, in the social innovation sector in North Texas.

Read on to learn more about our most recent Incubator cohort and their inspiring achievements at Debut Night, as well as the committed community members who help make this initiative possible.

Social Innovators Make Their Big Debut

The Incubator provides an organizational and leadership development program exclusively for early-stage social ventures led and staffed by women and people of color. The social innovation team at United Way developed this initiative specifically for social entrepreneurs who are working to implement new and creative solutions to pressing problems facing North Texans in the areas of education, income and health.

Each Incubator cohort goes through an intensive learning process, during which they refine and validate their business plans, receive leadership coaching and mentorship, and learn about key topics like marketing and branding.

Their experience culminates on Debut Night, when each entrepreneur has an opportunity to showcase their work to some of North Texas’ most passionate community leaders. Much like The Pitch caps off the work of our Social Innovation Accelerator fellows, Debut Night is a chance to showcase the work of emerging entrepreneurs who have been historically impacted by the opportunity and resource gaps that exist for women and entrepreneurs of colors specifically.

Part of United Way’s investment is to provide financial, human and social capital to our Incubator participants. The financial support comes in the form of a $2,500 seed investment upon completion of programming, while the program provides human capital through leadership coaching from professional mentors. Debut Night boosts the social capital side by allowing founders to leverage the relationships within United Way’s vast network, which creates a promising pathway to good exposure and meaningful relationships.

As Jasmine Hillman, senior manager of innovation at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, explains, “I see Debut Night as a larger platform to say, look out for the next great innovators who will use their bold and creative solutions to contribute to healthier and stronger communities in the areas of education, income and health.”

A Night of Innovation and Impact

During the March 21 Debut Night, 18 of the Incubator entrepreneurs presented to United Way team members; United Way Women of Tocqueville supporters and members; and the night’s judges, Dee Brown, senior manager of strategy at Accenture, Cassandra McKinney, executive VP of Comerica Bank and former United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Women of Tocqueville chair, and Mandy Price, the founder and CEO of Kanarys™.

The entrepreneurs who presented were:

  • LaToya Thomas, S.E. Charities
  • Jill Nastasia, Fearless Dallas
  • Heather Villagomez and Elizabeth Garrison, Notre Dame School STAR Program
  • Jennifer Hills and Krystal Hills, The Leadership Academy of Creative Arts (TLACA)
  • Empriss Bennett-Moreno, Mindset Solutions MultiMedia
  • Elizabeth Price, NSPIRE Tutors
  • Cortina Jackson, Cortina’s Venture
  • Kayla Mainja, Helen’s Project
  • Latasha Cummings, We Are HER
  • Rae Phillips, Reading Huddle
  • Sherri Cook, Wholly Informed Sex Ed
  • Olufeyikemi Ibitayo, Generational Shift USA
  • Monique Muhammad, Code Pink Productions Inc.
  • Patricia Brackens, World Explorers of America
  • Tamia Parker, Commissary is Very Necessary
  • Prinscilla Moore, Delighted to Doula
  • Toneisha Qualls, Mind Molders
  • Star Jackson, SerenelyStar Publishing

This Incubator cohort also included Jasmine Fain of ENPWR U.

Our panel of judges evaluated each participant’s business plan, community impact and scalability. Then they and the live audience cast their votes for Most Innovative, Most Impactful and Audience Choice Award.

This year’s winning entrepreneurs were:

  • Rae Phillips of Reading Huddle, Most Innovative
  • Kayla Mainja of Helen’s Project, Most Impactful & Audience Choice Award
  • Star Jackson of SerenelyStar Publishing LLC, Runner-Up for Most Innovative

Congratulations again to all our graduates and to the Debut Night winners!

Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

We are incredibly grateful to our cohort and award sponsors—The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Comerica Bank, as well as the United Way Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children. Each has committed to investing in women-led nonprofits and businesses, and we are so inspired by their generosity.

The Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children was founded in 2017 specifically to provide targeted financial and skill-based investments in the areas of education, income and health for North Texas women and children.

“Our goal through the Women of Tocqueville Fund is to encourage an equitable economic environment in which all women and children can achieve financial stability,” said Robbi Luxbacher, chair of the Women of Tocqueville Advisory Fund. “We chose to invest in United Way’s Social Innovation Incubator because it allows us to directly impact women entrepreneurs, who often face greater obstacles in launching a business or nonprofit. The inspiring women in this year’s cohort are developing innovative solutions to long-standing community challenges, and the Women of Tocqueville Fund is honored to help fund this important work.”

“This marks the first-ever Women of Tocqueville-led fund at any United Way in the country,” said fund co-founder Kristy Faus. “As WOT members, empowering women and children are the pillars of our organization and are at the center of all we do.”

“During the pandemic, we had an opportunity to sit back, think and try to imagine what things were going to be like on the other side of it—who would be most hurt that we might partner with when the pandemic was over,” said fund co-founder Carol March. “We felt it was important that the fund lift up other women and elevate our purpose. More than the socializing and networking, the WOT Fund gives us a cohesive and tangible purpose that is really resonating.”

The fund, which has raised more than $16.5 million, will be a source of permanent support and provide annual distributions for programs that create opportunity and access for women and children to thrive.

Thank you again to our mighty Women of Tocqueville supporters and members who helped make Debut Night a success, including: Jennifer Sampson, Rachel C. Ybarra, CPA, CGMA, Rachel B. Simon, Kristy Faus, Carol March, Neena Newberry, Lynn Fisher, Jerome Rose, Tyler Riddell, Leadership MBA, Linda Yohe, Nancy LaVerde, Kate Newman, Stacy Dunton, Ellen Barker and Michelle Thomas.

Learn More About the Fund for Women and Children

The Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children is a powerful force for lasting change in North Texas. Interested in learning more? Visit the fund’s website.