Five Impact Entrepreneurs Compete for $250K in Prizes in United Way’s Social Innovation Competition

Five finalists. One mission. United Way's Social Innovation Competition brings together innovative North Texas minds in social entrepreneurship for a chance to change the future. In a Shark Tank-style showdown, they'll pitch their solutions to improve education, income, and health in the community.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas will host five finalists April 19 in a social innovation competition it says will boost a commitment to improving access to education, income, and health.

Called “The Pitch powered by PNC,” the competition is described by the United Way as the region’s preeminent social innovation competition, with more than $250,000 in prize money.

The seventh annual event will be held at 6 p.m., April 19 at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving.

“United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is a leader nationally in leveraging the power of social innovation to identify new and innovative solutions for long-standing community problems that are more effective, efficient, sustainable and just,” Jennifer Sampson, McDermott-Templeton president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, said in a statement. “Every spring, we look forward to celebrating the impact of social innovation at The Pitch, where finalists from our Social Innovation Accelerator class share their solutions for improving our community.”

Focusing on the building blocks of opportunity

The five finalists are social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for improving access to education, income, and health, the building blocks of opportunity that represent the core areas of impact for United Way in Dallas.

The finalists will take the stage and present their game-changing solutions live to a panel of judges and an audience of change-seekers, the United Way said. Event judges will evaluate and score each pitch based on innovation, equity, impact, organization sustainability, and presentation and preparedness.

This year’s five finalists are:

  • Cornerstone Crossroads Academy, which supports people who have dropped out of high school as they work to earn their diploma, which in turn increases their lifetime earning potential.
  • Empowering the Masses, which provides North Texans with access to quality education that can be completed in a short amount of time, using their food pantry as a way to engage clients with their education courses.
  • Heart of Courage, which enables mothers to become self-reliant by providing education and advocacy, one-on-one mentoring, parent support groups, job readiness, educational services, and community outreach.
  • March to the Polls, which works to increase voter participation for historically underrepresented communities by holding voter registration drives and educating and motivating voters.
  • Together We Thrive, which pairs youth who have experienced vulnerable situations, such as homelessness, foster care, and sex-trafficking with dedicated life coaches who provide stability, guidance, and emotional support.

The importance of social innovation

“It is hard to overstate the importance of innovation in our community,” Brendan McGuire, PNC regional president for North Texas, said in a statement. “It’s one of the keys to a healthy, vibrant economy and modern society. As a leader in financial innovation, we’re proud to work with the United Way in Dallas to foster an environment that supports social innovators committed to improving education, financial wellness and health in North Texas.”

Judges for this year’s event include Dennis Cail, co-founder and CEO of Zirtue; Jorge Corral, Accenture Dallas Office managing director; Nicole Small, CEO, LH Capital Inc. and Lyda Hill Philanthopies; Vipin Nambiar, founder and managing partner of HN Capital Partners; and Sandra Phillips Rodgers, SVP of corporate resources, general counsel, Toyota North America.

Sampson said that social innovation is one technique driving the organization toward its Aspire United 2030 community goals, which include increasing by 50% the number of local students reading on grade level by third grade; boosting by 20% the number of young adults earning a living wage, adding nearly $800 million in wages per year to the North Texas economy; and increasing to 96% the percentage of community members with access to affordable healthcare insurance.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas seeks to unite the community to create opportunity and access for all North Texans to thrive and is committed to being a fully inclusive, multicultural, antiracist movement to drive transformative change and advance racial equity in the areas of education, income, and health—the building blocks of opportunity.

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