Dollars for Good: Communities Foundation of Texas Awards $6.3M in Grants for Social Innovation

The largest set of Caruth grants announced in a single year, the funds are aimed at advancing innovative and evidence-based solutions in the areas of education, public safety, health, and medical and scientific in the Dallas area.


Dallas-based Communities Foundation of Texas has awarded $6.3 million in grants to 15 organizations. Donated by William Walter Caruth Jr., it’s the largest set of Caruth grants announced in a single year.

CFT said the endowment is aimed at advancing innovative and evidence-based solutions in the areas of education, public safety, health, and medical and scientific research in the Dallas area, according to a release.

The grants range in size from a planning grant of $70,000 to implementation grants of $500,000, and they will serve Dallas area residents with an emphasis on high poverty areas.

CFT said it looked for projects at different stages of innovation and development. 

“We are being more explicit than ever about organizing our grantmaking along the stages of the human-centered design process from discovery through prototyping, implementation, and evaluation, to scale up,” Nadine Dechausay said in a statement.

“We plan to maintain a strong focus on data-tracking and storytelling throughout,” said Dechausay, the CFT’s director of community philanthropy. She oversees CFT’s Caruth grantmaking strategy.

The foundation said it will announce several more grants in 2019.

Foundation says the grants will advance Caruth’s community goals

The foundation said Caruth wanted to combine his passion for giving with the tools of entrepreneurship and scientific inquiry to achieve widespread community improvements, and the grants will do just that, the organization said.

The foundation noted three organizations that highlight how new technologies can be used to pursue boundary-pushing solutions to persistent community challenges across education and health:

  1. Behind Every Door: It operates several drop-in after-school programs in underserved apartment communities in the Dallas area. Using a proprietary app, Behind Every Door gamifies the after-school experience to keep kids on track. Kids in the “family” work on literacy, social skills, emotional health, spiritual growth, and more through an ipad-based program. The additional funding will build out the features of a proprietary app that will track attendance, communicate with parents, monitor academic and social-emotional learning impacts, and stimulate program engagement.
  2. Greenlight Credentials & Educate Texas: Greenlight is a startup company that has designed a digital ledger for academic credentials that is powered by blockchain technology. It gives a consolidated record of all the individuals’ academic and training achievements. Educate Texas is a statewide educational initiative that is dedicated to promoting successful transitions from school to workforce and life, and it will subcontract with Greenlight to build out the platform. Student using a GreenLight Credentials transcript can finish school seamlessly even with frequent transfers and be matched with an employer more easily, according to CFT.
  3. The Collaborative for Fresh Produce (CFP): A Dallas-based organization, the collaborative is working to ensure that produce is used to feed people in need while eliminating food waste throughout the supply chain. The grant will allow the collaborative to automate its process using Fusionware technology, which the foundation said will make food donation as simple as posting and buying on eBay. It’s a sustainable model that may one day support all of our nation’s food banks and hungry families, said Simon Powell, CFP’s president and CEO.

The foundation said those technology-focused investments are a just a cross-section of the number and scope of the grants.

Of the 15 grants, nine are aimed at improving educational outcomes for children and adults, or to advance institutional effectiveness through leadership and equity training, performance measurement, or technology.

Two of the grants are intended to reduce crime and, in one case, build community connections by reclaiming neglected land. Four of the grants aim to improve the health and resilience of families via direct service or increased access to fresh food, the foundation said.


Here’s the full list of grantees, along with the amount, project title, and Caruth focus area. Descriptions are courtesy of the Communities Foundations of Texas.

At Last Inc.

Boarding Experience in South Oak Cliff
Education, Health, Public Safety
Research shows that differentials in home life contribute to inequitable future outcomes for low-income children compared with middle-class peers. This project is designed to close the gap by bringing a safe and enriching urban boarding experience prototype to the South Oak Cliff community.

Behind Every Door

Gamifying Participation: An App for Attendance, Engagement, and Outcomes
Behind Every Door has designed an app that combines a robust data tracking system with a gamified user interface. It has the potential to improve program management and increase engagement in afterschool and other kinds of human services programs. This grant will allow the prototype to be fully built out and tested in two new use case environments.

Bridges To Life

Expanding Restorative Justice: Promoting Healing  in North Texas Communities
Public Safety
Restorative justice is a relationship-based practice that brings crime victims and perpetrators together to consider the harm done and make amends. Bridges to Life will use this grant to expand its program into more male and female prisons and addiction treatment facilities in North Texas.

Catch Up and Read

Developing Strong Readers with Strong Teachers
Third graders who read at grade level are more likely to graduate from high school, but only about 36% of DISD students do. Catch Up and Read’s literacy intervention targets 1st – 3rd graders who are most likely to fail with a proven approach delivered by trained teachers. This grant will allow Catch Up and Read to expand to additional campuses.

Collaborative for Fresh Produce

Fusionware Technology: Linking Farms and  Foodbanks
Farmers and packers leave an estimated 20 billion pounds of edible produce in fields each year. The Collaborative for Fresh Produce (CFP) helps salvage that food and get it to food banks. This grant will enable CFP to automate the process using Fusionware technology.

Crossroads Community Services

The SNAPAppointment Coordination Evaluation: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Health
By the time most people get to a food pantry, they have exhausted their food stamp benefits and are hungry. This grant will allow behavioral economists to partner with two of our largest local food pantries to try to modify that behavior, leading to better health outcomes and informing practice for food pantries nationwide.

Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center

Restoring Children of Abuse: Scaling Evidenced-Based Therapy Interventions
Health, Public Safety
Children who survive physical or sexual abuse face a lifetime of abuse-related complications. Fortunately, evidence-based treatments exist that can restore health and break the intergenerational cycle of violence. Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center will use this grant to increase access to treatment, while also strengthening their own practice by incorporating fidelity checks and practitioners with advanced Psychology degrees.

Dallas Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation

Racial Equity NOW: New Outcomes for Our World
The future of our region depends on confronting past and present inequities, and building policies that promote inclusion. DTRHT has the expertise, relationships, and credibility to support a transformational reconciliation effort at scale. The next step in their strategy is to provide intensive racial equity coaching for 10 organizations with the support of this grant.

GreenLight Credentials with Educate Texas

Big Data Goes to School: A Digital Wallet for All-Academic Credentials
Greenlight Credentials has created a digital wallet for academic credentials. The platform uses blockchain technology to store all credentials obtained from any institution in a secure, consolidated transcript. Because the metadata will be stored with the grades, this enables reverse transfer credit to be awarded much more quickly and finetunes matchmaking between individuals, schools, and employers. Educate Texas will subcontract with Greenlight to guide further build out of these components and grow the network of users.


An Economic Mobility Report Card for Texas’ Public Universities
Most students who start college do not finish. This is especially true for low-income, first-generation students who only have an 11% chance of graduating. To bring attention to institutions that have invested in the supports that improve those odds, ScholarShot will use this grant to create a prototype of a public “Economic Mobility” scorecard and get it into the hands of families and college access providers.

Stand for Children Texas

Building the Case for Scale: Texas Home Visit Project Evaluation
Stand for Children has collected internal metrics that suggest that when teachers visit their students at home, the students’ behavior and the teacher’s satisfaction improve. Partnering with scholars from Brown University, a randomized controlled trial evaluation will be conducted to determine the true effects of this low-cost, relationship-based intervention.

Teaching Trust

Codifying Impact: A Roadmap for Growth
Educator effectiveness is one of the most important school-based factors in student achievement. When teachers leave the profession, they cite negative school culture, lack of support, burnout, and student discipline problems as the main reasons. Teaching Trust provides high-impact coaching to school leadership teams in ways that directly address those issues. This grant will allow Teaching Trust to codify their methods to enable further expansion in North Texas.


Taking Nurse Home Visiting to Scale: Planning for a Pilot of Family Connects 
Health, Public Safety
Texas is home to 10% of new births in the country but has no coordinated infant-toddler strategy. TexProtects is organizing a statewide coalition for 0-3 policy, while seeking to pilot Family Connects — an evidence-based home visiting model for families with newborns..

The Trust for Public Land

Green Beginning: The Alice Branch Creek Health-and-Wellness Greenbelt
Public Safety, Education, Health
The lot across the street from South Oak Cliff High School has become an overgrown mass of underbrush and invasive species, a dumping ground for trash, and a magnet for crime and disorder. In partnership with the community, the Trust for Public Land will use this grant to build the Alice Branch Creek Park, which will be connected to a new greenbelt and include a traffic appeasement strategy. 

UNT Foundation (supporting Teach North Texas at UNT)

Enhancing STEM Teacher Prep with an Augmented Reality Classroom
Based on successful experience using Augmented Reality scenarios, UNT will use this grant to add modules specifically for math and science teachers to improve their classroom management skills. This should improve teacher retention for UNT graduates and other area teacher prep programs who will be able to access the technology at a discounted cost.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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