Meet the Finalists: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas To Host ‘The Pitch’ May 2 in Irving

One startup mixes hip-hop with learning. Another offers postpartum support to mothers in need. Others focus on STEM education, maternal healthcare, and homelessness solutions. But only one will be named the 2024 Social Innovator of the Year in a competition for $275,000 in total prizes.

Something like a “Shark Tank with a Heart” is coming to the Toyota Music Factory in Irving on May 2—with five social innovators from local start-up nonprofits competing live on stage for funding that we could all end up benefiting from.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas will be hosting “The Pitch” that Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., promising an “edge-of-your-seat” live show and a stellar lineup of judges—including Hall of Fame Cowboys Wide Receiver Drew Pearson, Dallas Stars great Marty Turco, and FC Dallas legend Kenny Cooper Jr.

Finalists and judges at “The Pitch” in 2023 bask in the glow of confetti. [Photo: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas]

Competing for $275K in funding

The five finalists who’ll be pitching will be competing for the title of Social Innovator of the Year and other titles with a total of $275,000 on the line, the organization said. And the live audience watching the action onstage will have the opportunity to vote for a winner, too.

Here are the pitching finalists and their startups, per the UWMD:

  • Roy Scott, Healthy Hip Hop: Integrates hip-hop culture, literacy, and social-emotional learning to elevate student learning environments.
  • Prinscilla Moore, Delighted to Doula: Offering anti-bias-based, judgment-free education, and postpartum support to mothers in communities that traditionally receive the lowest quality of care.
  • Courtney Hamilton, TechSavvy DFW: Creates access to STEM education in lower-income communities in North Texas, with a goal of ensuring that students in minority communities have a chance to future proof their own lives. 
  • Cessilye Smith, Abide Women’s Health Services:  A Black-led nonprofit, Abide offers low-cost access to healthcare with the goal of reducing infant and maternal mortality.  
  • Robin Head, Entryway: Transitions individuals and families out of homelessness to economic self-sufficiency, providing full-time employment, housing, and career training in partnership with the real estate industry.

The prizes they’ll be going after: $60,000 for Social Innovator of the Year; $30,000 Audience Choice Award; $20,000 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award; $20,000 Impact Award; and a $25,000 Accelerator Prize awarded to each of the five finalists taking part.

Also in the judges’ corner 

Joining the three Dallas sports legends noted above, this year’s judges for The Pitch also include Jorge Corral, Dallas Office managing director for Accenture and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas board member; Danyel Surrency Jones, head of Amazon’s Undiscovered & Small Business Accelerator; and Steve Hall, executive chairman of Conscious Capitalism and chairman & CEO of the Make It Matter Foundation.

If it’s spring, The Pitch is on

Through programs like UWMD’s Social Innovation Accelerator, the organization aims to “amplify the work of local social entrepreneurs and implement creative, strategic solutions to longstanding community challenges.”

Every spring, UWMD celebrates the power of social innovation at The Pitch, where finalists from the latest Accelerator class share their innovative solutions for improving access to education, income, and health in North Texas.

The accelerator is presented in collaboration with Accenture. The Pitch is powered by PNC and Amazon. An array of other nonprofits and companies are sponsoring the event, too.

For tickets to the event, you can go here (where you can also see a high-energy highlight video from past events). Funds from ticket purchases will go to support The Pitch as well as UWMD’s Aspire United 2030 goals, the organization said.

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