Largest GroundFloor Class Enters Revamped Accelerator Program
DALLAS, TX (February 7, 2017) –A way to get ex-offenders back to work and save taxpayer dollars, a one-stop-shop for healthy eating in a “food desert” and a smart, portable way to get kids the “college knowledge” they need are among the ten members that comprise the newest class of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ GroundFloor Fellows. The class of 10 social entrepreneurs constitutes the largest number of Fellows selected through a redesigned model in which organizations could receive up to $125,000 in seed funding.
A cutting-edge approach to meeting stubborn community challenges, United Way’s GroundFloor is designed to accelerate the growth and stability of promising and innovative service providers working in the areas of education, income and health. GroundFloor Fellows receive human, social and financial capital.
In addition to receiving seed funding through the program, Fellows who successfully graduate also benefit from an increased ability to gain investment from other sources. In three previous years of operation, GroundFloor has awarded funding totaling almost $1.4 million to 16 organizations, who subsequently leveraged that investment, support and mentoring to raise an additional $10.8 million for their impact work.
“Each year it is exciting to see our Fellows translate GroundFloor’s unique combination of seed funding, mentoring, resources and accountability into stability, growth and ultimately major impact for our community,” said Kate Knight, GroundFloor Director. “This year we get to multiply that by ten! I can’t wait to see what is possible.”
GroundFloor selection is based on a variety of elements, like an organization’s purpose, leadership and ability to attract resources, as well as a program’s innovativeness, potential for impact and other qualities. Fellows selected for the current class were chosen by community volunteers and United Way staff through an application process. Out of 40 applications, 16 finalists were selected to be invited for a Quick Pitch Selection Day, in which they had the opportunity to present a five-minute pitch and answer judges’ questions. This year’s program includes 10 Fellows, more organizations than in previous years.
GroundFloor Fellows take part in a five-month program composed of three parts:
- Bootcamp: Fellows test their approach, identify areas for growth and share information with peers. They also refine their business plan and identify three key milestones that must be reached. Fellows receive $10,000 for completing Bootcamp.
- Mentor Accelerator: Fellows receive coaching from GroundFloor mentors and take the steps necessary to accomplish the milestones identified in Bootcamp. Fellows receive $15,000 for completing the Mentor Accelerator.
- Multiplier Pitch: Fellows make new pitches to judges in hopes of gaining a portion of more than $250,000 in additional seed funding.
“This year we are working with more innovators than ever before, but will ultimately make transformative investments in the organizations that are able prove their ability to impact North Texas,” said Knight.
On April 6, the community is invited to see graduates from earlier GroundFloor classes compete at the first OneUp the Pitch event, a social innovation competition at The Bomb Factory. Five GroundFloor alumni will pitch live for $100,000 in growth funding. Celebrity judges will award $75,000, while $25,000 will be awarded as an audience favorite. Early bird tickets start at just $25. For information, visit OneUpthePitch.org.
About the 2016-17 GroundFloor Fellows:
Beacon Hill Preparatory Institute—Tutoring App: Beacon Hill Preparatory Institute provides successful tutoring for underserved children. They want to develop an app that will allow them to be more effective, efficient, and to increase the number of children who perform at grade level or better. beaconhillprep.org
Bonton Farms—Neighborhood Market: Bonton Farms is an urban farm located in a “food desert” in South Dallas that increases neighborhood residents’ access to nutritious foods. The next phase of their community transformation involves creation of a neighborhood market in which to sell their produce and educate neighbors on simple ways to improve their health. bontonfarms.org
Center for Employment Opportunities—Dallas Expansion: Center for Employment Opportunities provides employment services for people with criminal records based a model proven to reduce recidivism, helping rebuild families and strengthen neighborhoods while saving taxpayers up to $3.30 in corrections and public safety costs for every dollar invested. They want to bring their model to Dallas for the first time. ceoworks.org
Education Opens Doors—Virtual Roadmap: Education Opens Doors prepares middle and high school students’ in underserved areas for college through an innovative program to provide “college knowledge” and soft skills not traditionally taught in an academic setting. They are looking to expand their reach by offering a digital program for those unable to attain this critical knowledge in their schools. educationopensdoors.org
First3Years—Safe Babies: Safe Babies has developed simple adjustments to foster care processes and protocols for infants that dramatically improve outcomes. Their focus on realigning public and private community resources has the potential reunify families faster, prevent children from re-entering the system and save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. first3yearstx.org
Friends of Wednesday’s Child—Success in Schools is the only free-of-charge, year-round comprehensive educational services program focused on North Texas students living in foster care. Their parent organization, Friends of Wednesday’s Child, is looking to replicate this program across the state. wedchild.org
Scholarshot: Scholarshot is an educational support program for at-risk students that has earned an impressive track record of success by providing an array of services, such as help creating an academic plan, managing a budget, navigating collateral requirements and meeting deadlines and by matching students with academic managers to monitor progress. scholarshot.org
Skratch Solutions: Skratch is a mobile, on demand platform that provides a safe, simple way for teenagers to find jobs, earn money and develop an early resume by making it easier to post job employment opportunities and ensuring the legitimacy of employers and the safety of teens. Skratch hopes to launch their services for mid-low income teens. skratch.co
Texas New Era—Project Phoenix: Texas New Era/Jobs with Justice seeks to help young adults with criminal records rebuild their lives by matching them with union apprenticeship jobs that pay a living wage and pave the way for their records to be expunged. texasnewera.org
Youth with Faces—Box Lunch Program: Youth with Faces provides critical support for young men and women in the juvenile detention system, including a wide variety of enrichment and career exploration options. Youth with Faces’ latest culinary venture is a box lunch program that will provide participating youth with work experience and a chance to build savings. youthwithfaces.org
Applications for next year’s GroundFloor class will open in the fall of 2017.
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 $50M 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 UNITE FOREVER. To learn more, please visit UnitedWayDallas.org.
About GroundFloor: Launched in 2013, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’ GroundFloor brings critical resources—funding, mentorship, and community connections—to entrepreneurs who tackle challenges in education, income and health in North Texas by accelerating the growth and stability of promising and innovative ventures. The entrepreneurs behind these ideas recognize opportunity, identify what isn’t working; and design new ways to solve problems.