United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to Host Fourth Annual The Pitch Competition Virtually

Five fellows from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas' Social Innovation Accelerator will present their ideas in health, income, or education for the chance at $235,000 in funding. Tickets are on sale now for the all-virtual event on Oct. 28.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is gearing up to host its fourth annual The Pitch, and like most events of 2020, it will this year be virtual for the first time ever.

Presented by AT&T, The Pitch is a culmination of the Social Innovation Accelerator from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD) and Accenture.

The program aims to fuel bold social initiatives related to health, income, or education that can spur lasting change in the North Texas community. It provides entrepreneurs with critical resources—everything from funding to mentorship and community connections—to accelerate the growth of their ventures.

And The Pitch is the opportunity to shine a light on some of the region’s most promising social pioneers—and share their ideas with fans of innovation.

“United Way leads social innovation in the region, exemplified by the design, development and implementation of United Way-led initiatives such as Southern Dallas Thrives, as well as our Social Innovator Accelerator,” Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way Dallas, said in a statement. “Social innovation is key to achieving our Aspire United 2030 community goals, which aim to put opportunity in the hands of all North Texans.”

In the entirely virtual event on Oct. 28, five local fellows from the accelerator will compete for $235,000 in funding.

The judges will score each presentation based on impact, innovation, sustainability and presentation, per a news release.

Up for grabs is the $15,000 Social Innovator of the Year Award, chosen by the judges; the $10,000 Audience Choice Award, presented by Toyota, which viewers can vote for during the livestream; and a $10,000 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, presented by The Satori Foundation, which the judges will give to the finalist who most inspires others.

Each fellow also received a Participation Prize of $40,000 for reaching the finals.

This year’s panel of judges includes some major local names: LaTisha Brandon, the senior manager of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Celanese Corporation; Jorge Corral, the Dallas office managing director of Accenture; Chris Kleinert, the CEO of Hunt Investment Holdings; and Amber Venz-Box, the co-founder of rewardStyle and founding member of Cherry.

During The Pitch, UWMD will also announced a partnership Venz-Box’s Cherry, an on-demand platform that connects clients with independent nail technicians. The mobile service aims to provide customers with flexible appointments, while allowing nail techs to earn higher pay, make their own schedules, and avoid chemicals found in nail shops.

With a donation from the Kleinert Family Foundation, UWMD is supporting Cherry’s operations, per a news release. The goal is for UWMD to act as an impact advisor so marginalized women can have customized resources related to professional development, financial stability, and transportation.

Cherry is currently in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, but has plans for future expansion.

“Partnering with United Way has helped Cherry focus on our social mission of enabling female entrepreneurs to independently develop their career path,” Venz-Box said in a statement.

Anne Chow, the CEO of AT&T Business ( the unit’s first female and woman of color to hold the position), will again serve as the event’s emcee. Chow is also United Way’s annual fundraising campaign chair—the first female CEO of a global company to do so.

“Especially in these challenging and dynamic times, innovation is required to drive lasting impact in education, income and health, which are the building blocks that put opportunity in the hands of all North Texans,” Chow said in a statement. “By identifying high-potential entrepreneurs with high-impact solutions, the Social Innovation Accelerator is another way that United Way is amplifying the work of the organization and its partners throughout the North Texas region.”

The Pitch finalists

Here’s who you can expect to watch at this year’s event, per UWMD:

• Better Block Foundation, which is launching a workforce development program that teaches students how to use digital fabrication to reshape their communities while earning a living wage.
• Carson’s Village, which helps families navigate the challenging decisions they face after the sudden death of a loved one.
• EdCor Health, which is working alongside a Southern Dallas community providing access to health and hope over decades of challenges that often plague disinvested communities of color.
• The Home Visit Project, which trains teachers to engage and partner with families to build authentic, trusting relationships through home visits to ensure every child is socially, emotionally and academically successful.
• Trey Athletes, which empowers athletes to become lifelong leaders, unlocking their potential to serve as societal changemakers, representative role models, and influential voices for underserved communities.

The 2021 Social Innovation Accelerator

In addition to details of this year’s The Pitch, UWMD also released next year’s class of Social Innovation Accelerator program fellows:

• Agape Resource & Assistance Center, a scalable and replicable affordable housing solution that supports residents to sustain or attain economic stability.
• The Concilio, whose innovative “talk pedometer” helps parents understand the importance of and increases their children’s exposure to early-language learning.
• Connected Mind, a mental health triage tool that identifies up to six of the most troubling mental health conditions and provide school counselors with an instant mental health risk in minutes.
• Cornbread Hustle, the first-ever staffing agency for second chances, which changes lives by helping people with criminal records find meaningful employment.
• Dwell With Dignity, a retail pop-up thrift shop where high-end furniture, art, and accessories are sold at deep discount to fund the homes where domestic abuse survivors and their families can thrive.
• Kimiya International, whose Fight Club has an interdisciplinary approach to addressing mental health care for women who are survivors of trauma, by integrating boxing, yoga, group talk therapy and/or journaling, and individual counseling.
• To Be Like Me, an innovative disability awareness program, currently targeted to schools, that aims to build more inclusive communities through education and purposeful interactions.
• Trusted World, which streamlines the labor-intensive work of accepting donations of food, clothing and personal care products for the nonprofit community with no-cost service and online inventory.
• The Welman Project, which gives teachers the tools and the creativity needed to provide equal education regardless of school funding by connecting educators in need of supplies and companies with surplus goods to make better use of the resources already available in our community.

The Pitch will be hosted on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online now.

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