Meet the 2022-2023 Social Innovation Accelerator Fellows | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Meet the 2022-2023 Fellows for the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, social innovation is embedded in everything we do. We’re constantly looking for and implementing innovative solutions to long-standing challenges in our community.

Embracing innovation allows us to stay nimble as we work to improve education, income and health in North Texas. It’s one of the key ways we’re driving progress toward our Aspire United 2030 goals, which include increasing the number of local students reading on grade level by third grade, increasing the number of North Texas young adults who earn a living wage and growing the percentage of individuals with access to affordable health insurance.

As we move toward these goals, part of our social innovation work involves partnering with nonprofit and for-profit social ventures that take a creative new approach to systemic challenges impacting North Texans in the areas of education, income and health. Our longest-running social innovation program is the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator in collaboration with Accenture, which encourages innovative solutions to social issues by providing entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship and community connections to grow their ventures and amplify their impact.

Since its creation in 2013, the Social Innovation Accelerator has invested nearly $6.6 million and approximately 5,000 mentoring hours in 79 North Texas social entrepreneurs. With the support of United Way’s community connections and credibility, these startup organizations have gone on to raise an additional $33 million, build more than 850 partnerships, receive national recognition—and positively impact more than 155,000 North Texans over the last nine years.

As we continue to build on this success, we’re proud to announce the fellows selected to participate in the 2022-2023 Social Innovation Accelerator in collaboration with Accenture:

Cornerstone Crossroads Academy

Cornerstone Crossroads Academy (CCA) seeks to develop urban youth through transformative education, equipping future leaders to impact their communities for Christ. CCA looks for innovative ways to efficiently prepare students for an evolving workforce, equipping them to learn, think, plan and problem solve. Their goal is to ensure every student who enrolls at their academy graduates with a high school diploma or GED and enters college and/or the workforce.

Empowering The Masses

Empowering The Masses offers short-term training programs that create a lasting impact. Their initiatives include certification programs to bridge gaps in education and to create expertise, as well as workforce training for adults to create opportunities for sustainable employment. The organization also runs a food pantry to address the lack of access to fresh, healthy and nutritious food in South Dallas.

Heart of Courage

Heart of Courage provides support and resources for women who have lost temporary custody of their children due to drug addiction, incarceration, domestic violence, mental health issues or homelessness, working to reunite and create a better future for their families. The organization provides an array of services, such as court advocacy, one-on-one peer mentoring, parent support groups, and educational and career support.

ilooklikeLOVE

ilooklikeLOVE’s EmpowerU Program equips new and expecting mothers to actively expand their mental, maternal and financial capacity for building thriving, sustainable environments that shift their children’s lives toward a brighter future. The eight-week Mommy Cohort provides group and individual developmental sessions and instruction in pre/post-natal education, life skills development, financial literacy and employment readiness, with a goal of positioning low-income single mothers to be engaged in living wage employment and/or training by the time their child turns 1.

Lullaby House

Lullaby House provides a continuum of care to pregnant and parenting teens and their children in foster care in safe, stable long-term housing. The organization’s evidence-based approaches are designed to help teenage parents and families build relationships and capacities to move them toward generational wellness. Their services include individualized case management plans, educational assistance, mental health counseling, life skills and supportive services, which are crucial to achieving independence.

March to the Polls

March to the Polls is a nonpartisan voter empowerment organization that is focused on cultivating a lifelong commitment to voting and civic engagement in underrepresented communities, primarily youth and people of color. The organization forms partnerships with school districts to provide in-classroom voter registration and education—connecting the issues affecting students and their families’ daily lives to the power of voting—and utilizes innovative and effective ways to engage youth and people of color in the electoral process.

Reading to New Heights

Reading to New Heights provides free one-on-one virtual tutoring sessions for adults with low literacy. The organization leverages certified educators who teach the fundamentals of reading as if the adult is learning for the first time, which equips them to successfully navigate many demands of day-to-day life. Reading to New Heights provides a discreet option for those who wish to avoid a group setting and prefer a personalized learning experience.

Together We Thrive

Together We Thrive is designed to lead their young clients—each of whom carry labels such as homeless, foster and or sex-trafficked—to a place of sustainability where they can thrive. The organization serves youth in school during the school day, in transitional homes, in youth centers or any other location where their services are needed. Together We Thrive offers life coaches who provide the consistency of a healthy adult that thousands of North Texas youth are looking for and need.

Women Rock, Inc.

Breast cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic women and the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths among African American, Native American, Asian and Caucasian women. In response, Women Rock launched a Peer 2 Peer program to decrease the number of lives lost to breast cancer, with an emphasis on marginalized populations. Peer 2 Peer enables women to live longer through early detection and gives survivors purpose, pride and the power to thrive after breast cancer.

Young Leaders, Strong City

Young Leaders, Strong City (YLSC) works to educate students on untold local histories and narratives of race and identity, equip them with tools to create equity through community change and activate them to realize their visions for change. The organization is working to scale its Race & Money Curriculum, which provides the historical context necessary to help youth not only navigate, but begin solving for economic inequities for themselves, their families and communities.

What’s Next for the Fellows

The Social Innovation Accelerator fellows are already going through an intensive bootcamp powered by Santander, with expert instruction that will help them refine their business plans and set important organizational milestone goals. They are also receiving one-on-one mentoring and coaching from a team of Social Innovation Accelerator mentors.

Early next year, five of the 10 fellows will be selected to participate in The Pitch, our annual social innovation competition, where they will compete for tens of thousands of dollars in additional seed funding.

You’ll be seeing a lot more of these incredible organizations as they go through the Accelerator and compete for a spot at The Pitch. Stay tuned!

Support Social Innovation in North Texas

This is an exciting time to step up and be part of our community’s social innovation movement. We invite you to be a part of the change by supporting the Social Innovation Accelerator, which in turn supports innovative organizations that are making a direct, lasting impact in their communities.

Together, we can create opportunity for all North Texans to thrive. Donate today to support our social innovation programs.

This article was published on: Sep 1, 2022