Story written by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas:
DALLAS, TX (March 28, 2016) – Non-profits 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. 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. In addition to financial investments, ventures selected will receive mentoring and social capital investments valued at $194,500.
• The Akola Project (‘she works’), dedicated to employing and equipping “unemployable” women in Dallas and Uganda, will receive an investment totaling $107,500. Akola vocationally trains, dependably employs and holistically educates women in areas of health, wellness and finance.
• Bonton Farms, an urban farm focused on revitalizing the Bonton community in South Dallas by producing healthy foods and jobs, will be awarded an investment valued at $97,500.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
“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. Its impact can’t be overstated.”
“Bonton Farms is growing food, jobs and hope for a community that has historically had very little,” said Daron Babcock, Founder of Bonton Farms. “We are incredibly grateful that through this investment, United Way’s GroundFloor has demonstrated its belief in our ability to change lives.”
Founded in 2013 with seed investment from AT&T, EY and generous individual donors, GroundFloor is a social innovation fund and impact 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.
“Innovation is clearly thriving in our community- and not just with startups,” said Kate Knight, Director of GroundFloor. “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 non-profit sector. The sky’s the limit in terms of impact this group can have as they creatively work toward community-level change.”
Drawing on the strength of United Way and its supporters from across the community, GroundFloor invests in its Fellows with a three-pronged approach: 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 GroundFloor’s participants with resources from more than 1,000 United Way corporate partners and more than 80 service providers.
The application process for GroundFloor’s 2017 program will open this fall. For more information, go to thegroundfloor.org.