United Way Launches Innovation Challenge

Transformative approach to early education and childcare the focus
of United Way of Greater New Bedford Innovation Challenge.

Grants up to $175,000 to be awarded in unrestricted support

Evidence shows that families with dependable, affordable, high-quality care for their children are more successful professionally. By extension, their potential for economic mobility improves. To facilitate breakthroughs in the well-being of preschool-age children and their families, United Way of Greater New Bedford (UWGNB) has announced it is accepting letters of interest for their Innovation Challenge from February 26th through April 12th, 2024. Nonprofits, for-profits, or public entities (e.g., schools, hospitals, government, etc.) with projects that experiment, pilot, or test new, transformative ideas and approaches for early education and care should apply for the grant. Those applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be scored by an Innovator Panel comprised of representatives and leaders from the community, including funders, early education and care providers, and state-wide coalition members. Applicants may apply for up to three years of unrestricted funding, with one year of funding guaranteed and funding in years two and three dependent on achieving project milestones. Individual projects can apply for up to $100,000, and collaborative projects can apply for up to $175,000.

“Social service organizations working on the most pressing issues affecting Greater New Bedford often need to focus on day-to-day operations and sustaining existing programs and may not have time or resources to take a step back and consider new, original approaches to challenging problems or ways to working more efficiently,” commented Michelle N. Hantman, UWGNB President & CEO. “We want to shift that paradigm with the Innovation Challenge.”

United Way is challenging applicants to be collaborative and experimental in their approach. UWGNB will look for projects that address long-lasting, system-wide changes such as reimagining the design of a program or service or building capacity within an organization or across the sector.

Those interested in applying are strongly encouraged to register for an information session, which will be held at Fort Taber Community Center on Friday, February 16th, from 10 - 11:30 am. Projects that receive funding will be required to attend an awards presentation in September 2024. Click here to register for the information session.

United Way of Greater New Bedford is the local chapter of United Way Worldwide. It has operated since 1953, advocating for family resilience, health access, economic mobility, and educational opportunity for every person in the nine communities it serves through essential services such as the Family Resource & Development Center, Hunger Commission, and New Bedford Community Connections Coalition. Additionally, United Way funds local organizations whose programming addresses these issues and matches them with volunteers through Volunteer SouthCoast.