(DALLAS) – United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is pleased to announce its newest group of GroundFloor Fellows. The GroundFloor, an accelerator fund and program that provides investment, mentorship and other resources to innovative existing and start-up organizations, supports social entrepreneurs who are working to make an impact in North Texas in the areas of education, income and health.
“We’re extremely excited to work with this new group of GroundFloor Fellows and are so proud of their work, breaking new ground with innovative ways to solve our community’s most pressing problems,” said Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “The GroundFloor program leverages our region’s entrepreneurial roots, embracing big, bold goals. We’re deeply appreciative of our program investors, and we look forward to continuing our support for social ventures that help us meet our communitywide 2020 goals.”
The GroundFloor is targeted to social innovation endeavors that would not typically be eligible for a grant through United Way’s highly competitive Community Impact Fund process because they do not yet have measurable results. Candidates selected for support from the GroundFloor show promise of introducing the next big idea for preparing students to succeed after graduation, reducing poverty or improving health across North Texas.
This newest group of GroundFloor Fellows includes the following organizations:
Accion Texas is a nonprofit that provides micro and small business loans to aspiring and established business owners who are not able to access capital through traditional financial institutions. Through the GroundFloor, Accion is finalizing a new and innovative product, the Promise Loan, which uses qualitative measures such as business skills, integrity, perseverance and basic cash flow knowledge to access a loan of up to $5,000. Through this new program, Accion Texas has been able to provide capital to a third of applicants that would have otherwise been denied a more traditional loan. Most recently, the GroundFloor program has allowed the Promise Loan to develop new partnership opportunities, including an investment from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Dallas Teacher Residency (DTR) serves as a strategic response to local urban school districts’ need to recruit, prepare and retain effective classroom teachers to serve urban students in urban classrooms. Through a rigorous and purposeful year-long apprenticeship program patterned after a medical residency model, DTR is a teacher education program that pairs master’s level education content with a rigorous full-year classroom apprenticeship with trained mentor teachers in urban classrooms. DTR prepares and supports teachers to successfully serve students in urban schools, ensuring that prior to having a classroom of their own, program residents are provided with the training, skill-set and on-going support necessary to best meet the needs of students in urban schools. Through this innovative approach to teacher training, DTR aims to create both high-quality educators, in addition to creating support systems which ensure educators have the opportunity to impact levels of student academic achievement through teaching. DTR has recently partnered with the University of North Texas at Dallas to provide master’s education and certification to resident teachers.
FoodSourceDFW (FSDFW) is a unique and growing network utilizing a web-based solution designed to reduce hunger and food waste by connecting food assistance programs to food suppliers. FSDFW specifically serves non-profit organizations in Dallas/Fort Worth that maintain a food bank or food pantry. The food products move throughout the community at no additional charge to the organization or the food pantry client receiving the goods. This solution alleviates the burden on the food supplier in finding a destination for the surplus food as well as the financial burden on a food assistance program for food acquisition. In addition, the solution eliminates countless hours that food pantry managers spend trying to distribute their surplus prior to spoilage. FSDFW connects food and resources to meet the growing needs of hungry people.
Drawing on the strength of United Way and its supporters from across the community, the GroundFloor provides its participants with a three-pronged investment:
- Financial capital, for seed and early stage ventures;
- Human capital in the form of an intensive program led by mentors from the areas of entrepreneurship, academics, public policy and the social sector; and
- Social capital, by connecting the GroundFloor’s participants with resources from more than 1,000 United Way corporate partners and more than 80 service providers.
The foundation for the GroundFloor was first established by a $100,000 contribution from AT&T in 2012. Using this seed money, United Way determined that a social innovation fund was a unique opportunity for the organization to diversify its community investment. United Way reviewed applications for the first class of Fellows in September 2013, narrowing down finalists from eight to the three.
The application for the GroundFloor’s 2015 Accelerator program will open on July 1, 2014. Ventures will be selected through a competitive business plan and pitch competition. Applications are due September 1, 2014. More information about the GroundFloor and the application process is available at thegroundfloor.org.
About United Way of Metropolitan Dallas United Way of Metropolitan Dallas brings people together to improve lives and create lasting change here in North Texas by focusing on education, income, and health — the building blocks for strong families and thriving communities. We galvanize and connect all sectors of society — individuals, businesses, non-profits, and government — to create long-term change through investing in solutions that produce healthy, well educated and financially stable individuals and families. We raise, invest and leverage over $50 million annually in community-focused solutions serving Dallas, Collin, Rockwall and southern Denton counties. We do more than help one person beat the odds — we are changing the odds for entire communities. Together, we LIVE UNITED. To learn more, please visit UnitedWayDallas.org.