North Texas startups compete for $100K

North Texas social entrepreneurs competed for a $100,000 cash infusion.

The money will help grow their companies and boost their social impact. But not everyone walked away a winner.

There were five groups competing with great ideas. All of the companies help local people, but it was a competition. The pitches had to be captivating, convincing and possess that "it" factor that warrants $100,000 in prize money.

The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas put on the event Thursday that spotlights five social startups. Each one had to pitch in front of about a thousand people and to celebrity judges, including retired Dallas police chief David Brown and Amber Venz Box of Reward Style.

The startups all have a mission to improve the community in a unique way.

First Three Years is focused on infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. Youth With Faces offers career programs to young men and women in the juvenile justice system. Scholarshot helps at-risk kids earn career-ready degrees with one-on-one coaching. Education Opens Doors is using technology to help students successfully navigate high school and college. The Center for Employment Opportunities is a reentry program for those with criminal records.

The judges heard all the pitches, and there was some solid feedback in the Q&A. But they had to choose one for the $75,000 prize. Then, the audience got involved with live voting on their cellphones to award $25,000.

“You have to have a winner, and we want it to be competitive for the funding,” Brown said. “And I think that's a different philanthropic worldview that the best rises to the top and they'll do the best good out in the community.”

In the end, Education Opens Doors won $25,000. The judges awarded Scholarshot the grand prize.

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