This past September, United Way of Greater New Bedford launched their first ever Innovation Fund, a request for proposals designed to identify promising breakthroughs to combat persistent social problems in health, education, and financial stability. Applicants to the Innovation Fund could apply for up to $100,000 and for three years of funding.
Innovation is a critical tool in our fight against social problems. But more often than not, organizations continue to operate in outdated ways, when they could have greater efficiency or impact by using or building technology to improve service delivery, testing new outreach and communication tools, or building innovative cross-sector collaborations. The result is that there are missed opportunities, and the problems either continue or heighten in severity.
“The Innovation Fund is the first of its kind locally and we are pleased to be leading the charge,” said Allison Yates-Berg, VP of Community Impact and Operations. “It is important that we start to change ‘business as usual’ thinking into new, innovative approaches of moving the needle on important issues that affect residents in Greater New Bedford.”
In the first year of its launch, the Innovation Fund has found some promising solutions. 26 applications were received and United Way of Greater New Bedford is excited to announce the five Finalists for the Innovation Fund:
- Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance’s project that aims to connect youth service providers through a technology platform that will enable them to track their participants and their community impact over time
- Greater New Bedford Community Health Center’s project that will transform the delivery of opioid treatment services by integrating those services into primary care practice
- an at-home security project from The Women’s Center that will help women who are victims of domestic violence stay in their homes and child(ren) in their schools
- The Global Learning Charter School’s project that will bring education to the elderly through the use of a mobile classroom
- People Acting in Community Endeavor’s project that will develop a trauma-informed preschool that will help prevent mental health issues in children at the start
“The grant awards from the United Way’s Innovation Fund could possibly set the stage for meaningful positive changes in the way that we currently address some of the most pressing issues facing our citizens,” said Innovation Fund Judge Julie Ramos Gagliardi, Vice President of Corporate Giving and Community Relations at BayCoast Bank. “If successful, these new programs could even become models for other communities. I’m happy to be part of the inaugural judge panel and am really looking forward to the seeing the impact of these grants.”
Each of these Finalists has promise and has undergone a rigorous review process that included an interview with United Way’s prestigious judging panel. On January 23rd, United Way is hosting an event at the New Bedford Whaling Museum where one, or more, of these Finalists will become the winner(s) of the Innovation Fund and receive grant funding to implement their project idea. The community is encouraged to attend to support these local programs, please RSVP to 508-994-9625 ext. 219. To learn more about United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Innovation Fund visit unitedwayofgnb.org/innovationfund.