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United Way selects six social innovation finalists

United Way of Tarrant County has narrowed the field to six finalists to pitch their creative ideas to solve community problems before investors and a live audience on Nov. 2 in Fort Worth.

Earlier this year, the agency launched KERNEL, a social innovation fund created to take on social needs related to education, income and health in Tarrant County. The primary purpose of the innovation fund is to bring new approaches and strategies to find solutions for 14 key community issues identified by United Way.

The first money given from the fund will be awarded at the KERNEL LIVE! Event on Nov. 2. The winner will receive $10,000 or more in seed money to implement their idea.

The finalists and their innovative ideas are:

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Fort Worth for its Fort Worth Children’s Savings Account Pilot Program in which 200 students and parents will save for college and receive financial education;

Dream Outside the Box’s Dream Delivered, a monthly subscription service through which children ages 6-10 will receive boxes relating to a career pathway filled with activities, supplies, directions and a magazine; Bee Friendly Boot Camp from the iBee Foundation, a technology-based elementary school program that partners with schools, parents and kids to combat bullying and suicide through character and leadership development; Suicide Prevention Training for 500 volunteers at Meals On Wheels Inc. of Tarrant County who serve isolated seniors; Presbyterian Night Shelter’s Clean Slate Program, which provides employment opportunities for homeless individuals; and facial recognition software from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington to enhance its Take Me Home Project, which helps law enforcement personnel and other first responders quickly identify registered people with dementia or other disabilities who cannot speak their name and address so they can be taken home.

The KERNEL LIVE! event is scheduled for 6 to 9:30 p.m. at the Four Day Weekend theater, located 312 Houston St. in downtown Fort Worth. The live pitch event will begin at 6:30. Entertainment will be provided by Four Day Weekend comedy group.

Tickets are available at www.unitedwaytarrant.org/kernellive. General admission tickets are $45, VIP tickets are $75 and student tickets are $25.

Local start-up incubators TechFW and IDEA Works FW are partnering with United Way of Tarrant County to provide investment processes for the launch of KERNEL. Mentors from Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan University and others from the public and private sectors will help the finalists prepare for the pitch event and assist the winner or winners afterward.

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