At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we approach all our work through a lens of racial equity. Social innovation is one area in which racial equity is particularly important, because not all entrepreneurs who are looking to launch a creative new venture have access to the resources and opportunities they need to develop their business and secure funding.
To reduce those gaps in resources and opportunity, we created the Social Innovation Incubator, an organizational and leadership development program designed exclusively for early-stage social ventures that are led and staffed by women and people of color. And we’re proud to announce that our second Incubator cohort is comprised of all women entrepreneurs.
Supporting Women in Social Innovation
Social innovation is a key component of the work we do. By partnering with social entrepreneurs, we’re able to continually drive 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.
Each year, we help develop 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. The innovators in the Incubator have exciting ideas that are poised to have a direct and lasting impact on their communities. By supporting these ventures, we’re able to infuse greater equity into the North Texas social innovation scene—which can be difficult to break into.
Jasmine Hillman, senior manager of innovation at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, leads the Incubator program. She says she is inspired to work with the program’s first all-women group and excited to see the impact of their ventures on the North Texas community.
“For as long as I’ve been working with entrepreneurs, I’ve always wanted a cohort of all women,” she said. “Knowing the gender gaps that exist regarding opportunities and resources, as well as the systemic barriers that keep women business owners from advancing forward, I love that this group emphasizes the need and importance of building a bridge to innovation, where women get to lead with fresh ideas that are impactful and, in some ways, historical. It’s very empowering, and I’m inspired daily getting to not only oversee the Social Innovation Incubator but also serve as a mentor to two of the ventures and contribute beyond my role as a manager of this work.”
The goal of the Incubator—to develop and support social entrepreneurs who are women and/or people of color—aligns with the work of the United Way Women of Tocqueville, who in 2017 launched an endowment fund to provide targeted financial and skill-based investment in the areas of education, income and health for North Texas women and children.
This year, organizers of the Fund for Women and Children chose the Incubator as their second investment from the fund. Meanwhile, several Women of Tocqueville members are serving as mentors for the current all-women Incubator class.
“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 fund this important work.”
Meet the Entrepreneurs
The 2022-2023 cohort of the Social Innovation Incubator will go through a 14-week online learning program in which they will validate their business plan, receive personalized leadership coaching and seed funding, and set their venture up for future success.
This year’s all-women cohort includes entrepreneurs with bold visions for improving access to education, income and health in North Texas:
- The Caregivers Toolbox: A business focused on supporting caregivers to show them how to provide effective and empathetic care, keep effective records and be better advocates for the people they are caring for.
- Code Pink Productions Inc.: A nonprofit that incorporates an appreciation of the arts, community-based programs and trained volunteers to help support women’s medical research, health and wellness programs. Their mission is to build a better community by developing the potential of low-income families, at-risk young girls and women through effective action and leadership.
- Commissary is Very Necessary: A nonprofit that develops card games that bring families together and teach children solutions to everyday problems, such as having a toothache or needing to repair a flat tire. As an organization, CIVN focuses on solving the problems that affect North Texans and empowering parents and guardians to teach children about finding solutions to problems that happen to everyone.
- Cortina’s Venture: A nonprofit that aims to provide transformational services for women of domestic violence so they can make a new start. Services will include housing for one year through a rapid rehousing government program; opportunities for film, acting and speaking engagements; employment opportunities; and housing, healthcare, childcare and court services.
- Delighted to Doula: A nonprofit serving mothers in South Dallas that seeks to address maternal mortality/morbidity, postpartum depression and food insecurities, providing resources, education and postpartum support through the first year of motherhood. Services include baby care education, support for moms’ recovery and at-home visits to help mothers build confidence and transition into parenthood.
- Mindset Solutions Multimedia: A for-profit company that sells affordable, accessible personal development products, courses and media designed to help individuals in underserved communities set clear goals and intentionally execute on them while developing a resilient mindset.
- Reading Huddle: A small business that uses video lessons featuring celebrities and athletes as reading “coaches” to encourage families to develop a daily story time routine with age-appropriate books. Reading Huddle’s goal is to increase preschoolers’ kindergarten readiness so they are prepared on their first day of formal schooling.
- SerenelyStar Publishing: A book publishing company that seeks to help young and first-time authors publish their books, providing services to assist with the entire publishing process (ideation, formatting, editing/revising, copywriting, purchasing ISBNs, etc.). The goal is to empower the youth to utilize literacy to amplify their voices.
- TLACA (The Leadership Academy of Creative Arts): A nonprofit that works to restore the role of the village in communities, using a multi-generational approach to promote education, leadership development, creative arts and community building.
- ENPWR U: A for-profit business that works to support lower-income families. Their goal is to increase direct access to social and economic services by 15% to end resource displacement to underserved families.
- FearLess Dallas: A nonprofit serving women in North Texas with one-on-one case management, group education and mentorship opportunities to help women+ lead a sustainable, fulfilling life personally and professionally. FearLess offers an online platform for women to virtually connect to resources, support and mentors to guide them in life decisions.
- Generational Shift USA: A nonprofit that delivers service-led and technology-enabled career navigation to connect people to training and jobs and grow their careers. Their vision is to end generational inequity through economic empowerment with an organization that meets people where they are toward a better future.
- Helen’s Project: A nonprofit that works to improve family stability and health access and create positive community change. Their goal is to provide solution-focused social support and resources such as housing and transportation to families and individuals.
- Mind Molders: A for-profit business that works to educate adult learners to provide children with positive childhood experiences. The goal of Mind Molders is to put North Texas children on a solid platform for promoting beneficial learning and social-emotional growth.
- Notre Dame School STAR Program: A nonprofit day program for young adults with developmental disabilities that focuses on community-based instruction and functional learning. STAR provides recreational and leisure opportunities, job skill training, and activities that seek to develop community-based skills such as independence, safety and interaction within the community.
- Nspire Tutors: A for-profit business that works to change the way we teach in and outside of classrooms by working individually and holistically with students. Nspire provides online support with coursework and works to bridge the gap between subject mastery and real-world application.
- Queens In Training: A program that trains young girls of color on leadership, entrepreneurship and the importance of education, empowering them to become positive and productive citizens in their communities.
- E. Charities: A nonprofit service that addresses the limited resources available to senior citizens in marginalized communities. The goal is to restore dignity to our senior population by providing adult incontinence supplies, evidence-based programs (such as cognitive memory therapy and companionship assistance) and other ancillary services/items.
- Wholly Informed Sex Ed (WISE): A nonprofit that was founded to provide life-saving sex ed and fill an education gap. WISE is based on research that shows sex-education programs with a family component and/or that teach the health benefits of both abstinence and contraception have positive effects on adolescent behavior, including decreased and delayed onset of sexual activity, increased condom use, decrease in unprotected sex and STI rates, and a decrease in pregnancy rates.
- World Explorers of America: A nonprofit that seeks to educate underserved young people—some of whom have never left their neighborhoods—through the world of travel, exposing them to new places, cultural events, the arts and more.