Five intrapreneurs will be awarded a combined $300,000 in seed funding as they creatively invent solutions to achieve lasting community impact in the areas of education, financial stability and health.
- United Way’s GroundFloor Program Unveils Five New Investments – DMagazine (Source)
- United Way’s GroundFloor announces five new investments – Dallas Business Journal (Source)
- Dallas United Way fund gives boost to startups that give back to community – The Dallas Morning News (Source)
UNITED WAY’S GROUNDFLOOR PROGRAM UNVEILS FIVE NEW INVESTMENTS
By Glenn Hunter, DMagazine (Source) – March 28, 2016
Five nonprofits are being awarded more than $494,000 in seed funding, mentoring, and social-capital investment as the newest class of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ GroundFloor Fellows program.
The program, founded in 2013 with investments from AT&T, EY, and individual donors, is a social innovation fund and “impact accelerator program” that provides support and resources to innovative social ventures.
The five nonprofits receiving the GroundFloor assistance are:
- The Akola Project, which empowers impoverished women to become agents of transformation for their families and their communities through economic development. Begun in Uganda, the program has expanded to Dallas. It will receive a total of $107,500 through a combination of seed funding, mentoring, and social-capital investment.
- Bonton Farms, a rapidly developing urban farm that’s providing jobs, healthy food, and community development in the “food desert” community of Bonton, five miles south of downtown Dallas. It will be awarded a total of $97,500.
- Dallas Teacher Residency, which prepares effective classroom teachers for urban schools. It will receive an investment totaling $148,500.
- SafeNight, a mobile-app service that engages donors in paying for hotel rooms for domestic-violence victims when shelters are full. Developed with the help of corporate backers like Microsoft and Blue Shield of California, the app service is being brought to North Texas by Dallas-based AdvanceNet Labs, a SafeNight founding partner. It will be awarded an investment totaling $78,500.
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a community-based nonprofit that helps those in need. It will receive a total of $62,500 for its Mini Loan Program, which provides relief to those trapped financially in the likes of predatory payday and auto-title lending programs.
“Innovation is clearly thriving in our community—and not just with startups,” Kate Knight, director of GroundFloor, said in a statement. “By funding this inventive track of ‘intrapreneurs,’ we are helping organizations hire the ‘unhirable,’ create alternatives to predatory lending, equip new teachers to succeed, and use technology to improve the nonprofit sector. The sky’s the limit in terms of impact this group can have as they creatively work toward community-level change.”
The application process for GroundFloor’s 2017 program will open in the fall. For more information, visit thegroundfloor.org.
UNITED WAY’S GROUNDFLOOR ANNOUNCES FIVE NEW INVESTMENTS
By Ahavah Revis, Dallas Business Journal (Source)
Nonprofits with new ideas to empower women in poverty, protect people from predatory lending, and use urban gardens to grow food and jobs make up the newest class of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ GroundFloor Fellows.
Founded in 2013 – with seed investments from Dallas-based AT&T, EY and individual donors – GroundFloor is a social innovation fund and accelerator program that provides support and resources to innovative social ventures. Candidates selected show promise of introducing the next big idea for preparing students to succeed after graduation, reducing poverty and improving health throughout the region.
GroundFloor invests in its fellows with a three-pronged approach: financial capital, human capital and and social capital. The social capital, which connects GroundFloor’s participants with the more than 1,000 United Way corporate partners and 80 service providers, is valued at $194,500.
This year, five social entrepreneurs will be awarded a combined $300,000 in seed funding as they offer solutions in the areas of education, financial stability and health.
The Akola Project
The Akola Project, dedicated to employing and equipping women in Dallas and Uganda, will receive an investment totaling $107,500. The project vocationally trains, employs and educates women in areas of health, wellness and finance.
All sales revenues are reinvested in paying the women Akola employs, covers operations and expands Akola’s impact. This allows for 100 percent of donations to fund wrap around services that provide women with skills and support they need to succeed. After 10 years of successfully developing and implementing Akola’s hybrid model in Uganda, Akola has expanded to Dallas in order to create a pathway out of poverty for local women seeking financial stability and independence.
Bonton Farms, an urban farm focused on revitalizing the community in South Dallas by producing healthy foods and jobs, will be awarded an investment valued at $97,500. Bonton, just five miles south of downtown Dallas is located in a “food desert.” With 63 percent of residents lacking personal transportation, and the nearest grocery store a 3-hour round-trip bus ride away, residents rely on the local liquor stores for their groceries.
Bonton’s cardiovascular disease rate is 54 percent higher than that of the city of Dallas. Diabetes is 45 percent higher, stroke 61 percent higher and cancer 58 percent higher. The mission started as a small project at the home of BridgeBuilders’ Director of Urban Missions. Currently, the grassroots effort has grown into a rapidly developing urban farm, providing food, jobs, community development and restoration in Bonton.
Dallas Teacher Residency
Dallas Teacher Residency will receive an investment totaling $148,500. Dallas Teacher Residency prepares effective classroom teachers for urban schools to ensure all students are provided with a quality education, regardless of zip code.
“GroundFloor’s support is instrumental to our success, helping us provide highly effective teachers to meet the often overlooked needs of students in urban classrooms,” said Rob DeHaas, co-founder and CEO of Dallas Teacher Residency. “This generous investment will support our program’s expansion efforts, helping us serve 4,400 students in Dallas and Mesquite.”
Dallas Teacher Residency 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 year-long apprenticeship program patterned after a medical residency model, DTR is a district-based 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, skillset, and on-going support necessary to best meet the needs of students in urban schools.
SafeNight will be awarded an investment valued at $78,500. SafeNight is a mobile app service that engages donors in paying for hotel rooms for domestic violence victims when local shelters are full.
The mobile service assists domestic violence organizations in the coordination needed to identify open shelter beds and engage individual donors in paying for hotel rooms when shelters are full. The service features a web-based resource coordinating system and a smartphone app to find and fund sanctuary rooms (open beds, hotel rooms, etc.) on a real-time basis for people who are in danger of violence. The program received initial support for development from Microsoft Corporate Citizenship, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and Vodafone Americas Foundation.
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul will receive an investment worth $62,500 to fund its Mini Loan Program, providing relief to those financially trapped in high interest payday and auto title loans. People in the community are financially trapped by exorbitant lending rates of up to 500 percent APR of predatory lending mechanisms such as payday/auto title loans. They are increasingly unable to take care of their families and are spiraling into unending debt. The MLP breaks this cycle of debt as the Society partners with participants to convert a predatory loan into a low-interest loan.
The application process for GroundFloor’s 2017 program will open this fall.
DALLAS UNITED WAY FUND GIVES BOOST TO STARTUPS THAT GIVE BACK TO COMMUNITY
By Melissa Repko, The Dallas Morning News (Source)
An urban farm in southern Dallas and a jewelry brand with a Deep Ellum store are among the recipients of investments from GroundFloor, a social innovation fund that’s part of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
GroundFloor started in 2013 as a way to come up with new solutions to North Texas’ problems, such as poverty and illiteracy. It began with $100,000 in seed funding from Dallas-based AT&T and has grown with contributions from individuals and other companies, such as EY and Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Entrepreneurs, startups and nonprofits with a social entrepreneurship mission are eligible. Think companies like Toms, Warby Parker or Roma Boots, which donate shoes, boots or glasses for every one that’s purchased. Cafe Momentum, a downtown Dallas restaurant that trains and employs teen boys who have been in the juvenile system, was the first recipient of GroundFloor funds in 2013.
GroundFloor director Kate Knight describes the fund as a cross between a venture capital fund and an accelerator, but with one major difference: The United Way’s funds are technically a grant and it does not get equity.
“Education, income and health goals are what drives all of our decisions,” Knight said. “So if we can get difference makers in our community working hard on these topics, that is getting something back for us.”
“We can’t just do the same things that we have done for years to solve these problems in our community. We have to try new approaches and come up with new ideas to really make the impact we’re trying to make.”
Applicants must submit a business plan and pitch to a panel of mentors and investors. If chosen, they receive funding and support from the United Way and a group of mentors. To receive the funds, they must hit certain goals, GroundFloor director Kate Knight said.
Knight said people are often surprised to hear that a 90-year-old charitable organization like the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has a fund that promotes innovation.
“We are not your grandfather’s United Way,” she said.
This year, GroundFloor has selected five fellows to receive a total of $300,000:
- The Akola Project, which hires and trains women in Uganda to make jewelry and educates them about health, finance and wellness, will receive $107,500. The project, which started about a decade ago, now hires Dallas women who face obstacles to employment, such as a history of incarceration or sex trafficking.
- Bonton Farms is helping to revive the Bonton neighborhood of southern Dallas by growing fruits and vegetables, promoting healthy eating and creating jobs. It will receive an investment of $97,500. It has previously received money from GroundFloor.
- Dallas Teacher Residency prepares classroom teachers to succeed in urban schools so they can boost the quality of children’s education, especially in zip codes with high poverty. The teacher training program is expanding in Dallas and Mesquite. They will receive an investment totaling $148,500. It is GroundFloor’s second investment in the program.
- SafeNight, a mobile app, helps domestic violence organizations and domestic violence victims find open shelter beds. It also allows donors to cover the cost of hotel rooms when local shelters are full. The mobile service can be used online or through a smartphone app. SafeNight will receive an investment of $78,500.
- The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit, volunteer-based Catholic organization that helps families and individuals struggling with poverty, has a Micro Loan Program. It offers an alternative to high-interest payday and auto title loans that can cause people to end up even deeper in debt. They can also convert high-interest loans into low-interest loans. The group will receive an investment of $62,500 to help fund the loan program.