Nonprofit startups compete cash prizes in United Way competition

Some North Texas social entrepreneurs are competing for some big cash prizes.

It was the third year United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has hosted “The Pitch,” a competition at which some of the best social entrepreneurs in Dallas can win big money for their startup nonprofit.

“We started out with over 50 applications,” United Way of Metro Dallas CEO Jennifer Sampson. “We narrowed that down to 18 who a year ago presented in front of a volunteer committee. We narrowed that down again to the five that you’ll see on stage tonight.”

The judges are looking for the best 21st-century solution to an age-old problem.

One of the solutions came from the organization, POETIC, which is only 14 months old and would offer education, trauma therapy and scholarships to girls in Dallas who have overcome sex trafficking to prevent them from going back to the environment that got them there.

“We build a pipeline out of the juvenile justice system for girls that have experienced sex trafficking and exploitation,” said Jennifer Tinker with POETIC.

Another contestant is trying to expand his efforts to make guidance counseling more available to students through online programs.

“Today, there’s only one counselor to every 500 students,” said Student Success Agency CEO EJ Carrion. “So the average student only gets 38 minutes with their counselor a year.”

Each contestant says just being in the competition energizes their mission by giving them a platform.