Social Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Looks to Improve Health Through Innovation Technology Challenge

Up to $1 million in prizes will be up for grabs based on ready-to-launch solutions for improving healthcare and mental health.

The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Health Innovation Technology Challenge, a social innovation competition with $1 million in prizes, aims to increase access to preventative care and improve mental health in North Texas.

Through the competition, the community-based nonprofit hopes to identify, elevate, and activate transformative solutions to community health challenges in Dallas-Fort Worth, according to United Way.

Ann Montgomery: Innovation at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Ann Montgomery is vice president of innovation and design at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. [ Image: Courtesy UWMD]

“This challenge is a continuation of United Way’s focus on social innovation and entrepreneurship, which began with its investment in the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Social Innovation Accelerator,” said Ann Montgomery, Vice President of Innovation and Design at UWMD.

The challenge came about after United Way’s Campaign Chair, AT&T Business CEO Anne Chow, “shared her passion for and commitment to increasing access to healthcare and improving healthcare outcomes, especially in the areas of pediatric health and mental health and wellness,” Montgomery said.

Chow announced the competition at UWMD’s The Pitch Competition in October.

A challenging year “vividly highlighted the importance of health care, and the needs of our community,” Chow said at the event. “As a leader in technology, I believe that tech and innovation can and should be a game-changer, in creating better health outcomes. That’s why United Way of Metro Dallas is launching a new social innovation competition with $1 million prize funding to identify, elevate, and activate transformative solutions to community health challenges across North Texas.”

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is partnering with Health Wildcatters, led by Hubert Zacijik, to implement the challenge which is supported by AT&T, Axxess, and Baylor Scott & White as sponsors of what Montgomery calls critical work.

Applications are open for the Health Innovation Technology Challenge

Applications for the Health Innovation Technology Challenge are open now through March 1, and United Way is seeing great interest from both established organizations looking to bring new solutions to the community and start-ups looking to share their innovations more widely. United Way expects the organizations awarded funding to implement their large-scale solutions and create high impact, both in terms of the number of individuals served and improvements in health outcomes in North Texas.

United Way says it consulted with health experts to identify the current health issues in North Texas communities and concluded that the main ones are: increasing access to and utilization of preventive health care and improving social and emotional wellness and mental health for children, youth, and adults, according to United Way.

These issues should be kept in mind by those submitting applications to the challenge, along with the seven key criteria that the submissions will be evaluated on. Per United Way, the solutions should be:

  • Equitable: intentional focus on challenges that disproportionately impact people and communities of color
  • Specific: clearly linked to the challenge identified
  • Research-based: demonstrated knowledge and understanding of data related to the challenge identified
  • Measurable: evaluation plan which documents process and demonstrates outcomes and impact
  • Feasible: immediately actionable
  • Scalable: far reaching in scope and nimble in approach
  • Systemic: addressing social determinants of health in addition to individual issues


For the challenge, United Way is looking for prototyped solutions that are ready for launch and beyond the research phase. Applications for the competition will close on March  1. Details on the competition can be found here.

In May, the winners will be announced at the Health Innovation Technology Challenge Awards event.  

Quincy Preston contributed to this report. It was updated on Feb. 4, 2021 at 12:11 p.m. with additional information from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

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