United Way Gives Local Social Innovators $225,000 Reasons to Compete

Funding to be Awarded for Most Online Votes and Best Pitches to Judges and Live Audience

DALLAS, TEXAS (April 16, 2019) – United Way of Metropolitan Dallas will showcase some of the most promising social pioneers in North Texas during its third annual social innovation competition, The Pitch, presented by AT&T.  The fast-paced, high-stakes event will feature five social startups vying for a total of $225,000 in funding on Tuesday, April 16.   Contestants will share their vision for the future of Dallas, appealing to a panel of judges and the audience for additional investment capital to grow the impact of their work.  Coached by Young President’s Organization (YPO) experts, social entrepreneurs will deliver their pitches on stage before nearly 1,400 attendees at Gilley’s Dallas, culminating a year-long competition.

“With the help of community supporters, we’re infusing innovative organizations with funding to strengthen education, income and health- the building blocks of opportunity,” said Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton President and CEO, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “The Pitch promises to be an exciting evening of big ideas and game-changing investment, sure to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people of North Texas.”

The first $75,000 is awarded by an online vote, leading up to the live competition.  On April 16, The Pitch event winner will be named United Way’s Social Innovator of the Year and receive $75,000 in funding, generously underwritten by the Kleinert family. The first-runner up will be awarded $50,000, and the second-runner up will get $25,000. All event awards are decided by the judges’ panel and audience members voting via their smart phones.

“Innovation is an essential component to sustainability and greater impact, and is sparking the development of new solutions to complex community problems,” said Chris Kleinert. “The Pitch is essentially the Super Bowl of social entrepreneurship, and Ashlee and I are proud to invest in United Way to support these five innovators striving toward impactful social change.”

The social innovation competition is a culmination of the five contestants’ tenure in United Way’s annual Social Innovation Accelerator program, in collaboration with Accenture. Launched in 2013, the program is a mentor-driven social innovation fund and impact accelerator initiative, investing seed funding and resources to support social ventures focused on finding new solutions to stubborn problems within the areas of education, financial stability and health.  Since 2013, 35 organizations have completed the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator and received more than $2.7M in seed funding.

“Innovation drives growth and, in fact, can transform communities and entire economies,” said Charlene Lake, SVP, Corporate Social Responsibility, AT&T.  “That’s why it is so important for us to support and uplift the social entrepreneurs in North Texas.’

Event judges will evaluate and score each pitch based on impact, innovation, sustainability and presentation.  The judges panel includes: Jack D. Furst, Founder and CEO, Oak Stream Investors; Ken Hersh, President and CEO, George W. Bush Presidential Center; Sandra Phillips Rogers, Group Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary of Toyota Motor North America; Mary Templeton, Co-Chair, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Annual Campaign; Henry Timms, President and CEO, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; and Steven Williams, CEO of Pepsi Co Foods North America. Anne Chow, President, National Business of AT&T, will serve as the event emcee.

Last year’s United Way Social Innovator of the Year award went to Scholar Shot, helping at-risk students exit poverty by earning career-ready college degrees.  Finalists invited to participate in this year’s contest are:

  • My Possibilities offers adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities the chance to continue their education and gain independence. Key to that success is work experience and a new for-profit, on-site retail training center will support people with disabilities seeking competitive employment in the community.
  • POETIC builds a pipeline out of the juvenile justice system and into intensive aftercare programming for girls who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Through an intensive aftercare model that includes an on-site school, 24/7 access to their therapist and caseworker, art therapy, and paid internships, POETIC is reclaiming the future for trafficked girls.
  • Readers 2 Leaders has packaged its highly successful literacy program to equip out-of-school time providers with the tools they need to integrate reading into their programs. With a model that is proven to grow and develop the reading skills of elementary school aged children, Readers 2 Leaders can now reach exponentially more kids where they are – in after-school care, soccer practice or summer camp.
  • Rosa Es Rojo makes wellness and cancer prevention accessible to the Latino women in America, starting in North Texas. The program promotes nutrition, physical activity, emotional health and positive thinking through an educational model, “The Rojo Way,” shared 100% in Spanish, that enables women to apply their learning and share it with others in their community.
  • Student Success Agency is an interactive digital mentoring platform that allows students to receive on-demand access to an array of student support services traditionally offered only by school counselors during school hours. The program connects high school students with near-peer mentors via their mobile devices, providing access to quality mentoring, tutoring and college advising without the restrictions of time or place.

The Pitch is made possible by AT&T, Accenture, The Kleinert Family, Santander Consumer USA Foundation, YPO, Sara and Gary Ahr, Phillips Philanthropies, SimplePay Health, Texas Instruments, SVP Dallas, Wright Connatser PLLC and Something Good Consulting.

Tickets and additional event information are available at www.unitedwaydallas.org/Innovation.

About United Way of Metropolitan Dallas: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a community-based nonprofit organization that believes in the power of unity to create lasting change.  For over 90 years, we’ve brought people and resources together to strengthen education, income and health—the building blocks of opportunity.  Together, we work to achieve long-term results that help our community thrive. We encourage every North Texan to be part of the change.  To give, volunteer, advocate or learn more, visit www.UnitedWayDallas.org.

About United Way’s Social Innovation Accelerator:  United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ Social Innovation Accelerator brings critical resources—funding, mentorship, and community connections—to innovators who tackle challenges in education, income and health in North Texas.  By investing in promising solutions, the program accelerates the impact of these organizations to our community and provides them stability for long-term success. Since 2013, 35 organizations have completed the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator and received more than $2.7M in seed funding.  Learn more at www.unitedwaydallas.org/Innovation.