Dallas Heroes Project: Shining Light On Grassroots Change



None of us suffer from a shortage of available stories or opinion pieces to keep us informed. With an infinite Facebook feed and myriad media outlets churning stories faster than we can read them, the risk is not that we are uninformed, but that we are over-informed on the wrong issues.

Even for those of us fortunate enough to spend our work days in Dallas’ civic, philanthropic, and political communities, there is a high chance that we will miss important narratives in the media deluge. At the worst, this might cause us to err greatly in our decision making. At the least, we will miss opportunities to celebrate the good being done around us.


Dallas Heroes Project has set out to help everyone in Dallas not only discover the local workings of the causes we care about, but engage with those causes more easily. Founded at the start of 2016, DHP’s mission is to “celebrate local heroes, educate citizens on critical issues facing the city, and enable them to take social action to make a positive impact in Dallas.”

Once per month DHP publishes a brief interview with a local champion for social good, highlighting the work his/her organization is doing and offering readers means of immediate participation. Supporting the selected hero for the month, DHP uses its social media channels to offer bite-sized information and analysis that further explore the issue.

“It’s hard to do the research, read the long articles, people don’t have time for all that. But people are checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.” -Maddy Kulkarni

“It’s hard to do the research, read the long articles, people don’t have time for all that. But people are checking Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These are the channels we can use to create interesting and engaging content around nonprofits in our city,” Founder of Dallas Heroes Project Maddy Kulkarni stated in a discussion of the organization’s strategy.

A simple realization for Kulkarni spurred the project into existence: people want to get involved, they just don’t know where to start. While many of us know which issues in Dallas matter most to us, few of us have the time to explore them fully and meet the people working to change them.

“When I moved to Dallas, I only knew that the Susan G. Komen organization and the American Heart Association were headquartered here. But besides participating in a 5k or making a donation, I didn’t know how else to get involved,” Kulkarni said.

“When I joined Social Venture Partners Dallas in 2015, I became exposed to amazing organizations that focus on children’s education, teen pregnancy, human trafficking, and more. They needed help with marketing, strategy, data management systems — areas where I could roll up my sleeves and drive impact in a more direct, intimate way.”

She jumped into the organization with aplomb, joining SVP for one project after another and serving as a lead partner before her first year was out.

“SVP is a family of people who care about social impact. I keep saying this, but SVP is a group of the smartest people in Dallas with the biggest hearts,” she said.

Beyond the transformative work that Kulkarni did with a number of nonprofits through SVP, this process set in motion the thinking that would lead to Dallas Heroes Project. She also met Jonathan Blum, another SVP Partner, who volunteered his legal expertise to help her get the project off the ground.

“There are so many organizations that could use help, and people want to help, we just need to connect them.” -Maddy Kulkarni

“My friends would ask me, how do you learn about all of these amazing nonprofits? How do you figure out who you want to get involved with? And I thought, there are so many organizations that could use help, and people want to help, we just need to connect them. I’m a marketer. I can help,” Kulkarni said.

In the wake of that realization, Dallas Heroes Project has set out to be the chorus of praise the unsung heroes of Dallas deserve. By shining a light on the nonprofits and social enterprises making a grassroots level change in our city, Kulkarni hopes to make it easier for us to learn more about the causes we care about and get involved.

Dallas Heroes Project brings a monthly dose of hope and awareness to its readers, but, perhaps, the message we need to hear most from DHP is implied in its existence more than it is written: the change we all want to see is underway, the heroes we pray for are here, and to create the city we desire we have but to engage.

In June, Dallas Heroes Project is covering Dixie Hairston and her work with Children at Risk, a children’s advocacy organization against sex trafficking.

“My big priority right now is making sure there are strong protections set up so that the most vulnerable children in our communities no longer become victims of sex trafficking,” Hairston said in her interview with DHP. Read the full interview with Dixie Hairston here.

Dallas Heroes Project can be found at dallasheroesproject.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/dallasheroesproject.

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R E A D   N E X T

Sean Caho manages marketing and communication for Social Venture Partners Dallas. He blends backgrounds in venture capital, classic literature, philosophy, and strategy to create communications that c(...)