United Way of Tarrant County recently awarded $35,000 to three local entrepreneurs during its second annual KERNEL LIVE! event, the culmination of a competition designed to foster collaboration to advance social innovation, entrepreneurship and positive impact in the community.
“The United Way of Tarrant County was pleased to provide funding for the competition,” said CEO T.D. Smyers. “Through this program, we encourage not only creative thinking and entrepreneurship, but solutions to help some of the most pressing needs in our community.”
Inspired by the TV show Shark Tank, four finalists from a field of 14 applicants pitched creative solutions to critical social issues before five judges and a live audience in the theatre of the Four Day Weekend improvisational group theater.
This year’s winners are:
Center for Transforming Lives was the top awardee receiving $15,000 for FIRED UP!, a program that addresses poverty by eliminating barriers and teaching employment skills to homeless women, especially those with limited skills, spotty work histories or criminal backgrounds. The goal of this social enterprise is to empower homeless women with experience and skills to gain employment through providing them with jobs making and producing a salsa that is already one of the Center for Transforming Lives’ catering business’ most popular products.
Alliance For Children, the children’s advocacy center serving all of Tarrant County, was awarded $10,000 for The Makeover Project, which provides room makeovers for children who experience abuse in their home living environment. The program is designed to re-invent the physical space that children may have been abused in to reduce long-term trauma and promote healing in a new safe space.
$10,000 also went to Total K.O. Boxing Club for a Club Spring Program, which provides at-risk young ladies boxing training and technique, boxing discipline, academic tutoring and leadership skills. This non-contact program is the first “all-girls” boxing club in Tarrant County and seeks to inspire health, wellness, self-esteem and character.
All four finalists were provided with coaching and mentorship to help prepare them for the event. They are also welcome to come back for future events to help them both seek additional funding and gain it.
United Way of Tarrant County started KERNEL in 2016 to find and grow new solutions to local social problems in the areas of education, income and health. It brought together a cross- section of individuals, organizations, non-profits, for-profits and entrepreneurs, and began its KERNEL social innovation fund, which was primarily funded this year through North Texas Giving Day initiatives.
To learn more about the program, please visit unitedwaytarrant.org/KERNEL.