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United Way of Tarrant County Announces 2019 KERNEL Winner

By November 12, 2019 No Comments

United Way of Tarrant County awarded $50,000 in seed funding to three finalists during its fourth annual KERNEL Live! event, a competition designed to foster collaboration to advance social innovation.

This year’s winners are:

First place, $25, 000 – Feel the Color

Feel the Color creates embroidered fabric tags with braille, alphabet lettering and symbols. These revolutionary tags enable the visually impaired, including those who are colorblind, the opportunity to feel the color of their clothes. With these tags, the visually impaired will be able to separate their clothes, organize their clothes and match their clothes, helping them be more confident, self-reliant and socially independent.

Second place, $15,000 – Tarrant County Furniture Bank

Tarrant County Furniture Bank will provide a centralized location for furniture that social services agencies can turn to as a resource when assisting those transitioning out of homelessness. The organization provides an innovative way to address a gap in homeless services by securing furniture donations and developing strong relationships with distribution partners. While federal funding can be used to house the homeless, it cannot be used for furniture. Thus, many homeless individuals start out without a bed, sofa or table.

Third place, $10,000 – Shared Housing Program

The Shared Housing Program meets a need for affordable housing and supportive community for individuals overcoming homelessness and/or domestic violence; low-income families who are unable to afford market rent; and elderly homeowners struggling with living costs on fixed incomes. Shared Housing Program’s vision is to attract and leverage social impact investments to create sustainable co-share rental housing and supportive shared housing communities in high-need neighborhoods. By using social impact bonds to fund the future purchase and rehabilitation of properties in high-need neighborhoods, the Shared Housing Program will be able to create safe and welcoming housing while keeping rents affordable and stable for low-income households and individuals experiencing homelessness.

The three organizations competed as finalists with creative presentations in front of a panel of judges during the KERNEL LIVE! event on Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Four Day Weekend Theater in downtown Fort Worth.  The seed money is intended to help grow their ideas to help solve some of the challenging social issues in Tarrant County.

“United Way of Tarrant County congratulates all KERNEL finalists for their innovative solutions for social issues in our community,” said TD Smyers, president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County. “Feel the Color’s innovative program will meet the needs of individuals who are visually impaired and provide a sense of independence to this vulnerable poplutation.”

Judges for the 2019 KERNEL LIVE! were David Minor, Managing Partner of Minor & Associates;

Vanessa Barker, Co-Founder of the Welman Project; Robert Sturns, Economic Development Director for the City of Fort Worth; Molly Cain, Founder of GovCity Group; and Kevin Grace, Managing Partner of Catalyst Partners.

David and Anita Minor, Fort Worth Weekly, Reata, CauseLabs, Four Day Weekend, Fort Worth Business Assistance Center and Rising Tide Initiative sponsored the event.

KERNEL, established in 2016 by the United Way of Tarrant County, fosters social innovation within Tarrant County and provides resources and seed funding for organizations and programs that comprise a combination of social impact, a sustainable revenue model and an innovative approach to solving the social challenges in our community.