Social Innovation Grants


The Tulsa Area United Way strives to help improve the quality of life in the Tulsa area in all aspects. Because of this, social innovation grants are given to organizations that present innovative plans to challenges in our community.

Each 501c3 nonprofit organization attended a "pitch night" where they were given 10 minutes to pitch ideas to the panel of volunteer judges. The judges were looking for innovation, collaboration, and non-duplication among non-profit, educational or governmental organizations.

The submission window for 2020 funding has passed. Watch for information in 2020 for deadlines for 2021 applications.

How much was given to these organizations last year?

ALMOST $300,000 

How many organizations and plans were chosen?


Economic Opportunity Initiative - The Center for Employment Opportunities
In Oklahoma, more than 90% of the 28,000 people sentenced to incarceration annually will eventually be released. Within three years of release, 22% of formerly incarcerated Oklahomans will return to prison. This will worsen the state’s incarceration rate, which is already the highest in the nation. Approximately 1,400 to 1,800, men and women return home to Tulsa from state prisons each year. These individuals face tremendous challenges re-entering society, including unemployment estimated at 60%; lower wages than they earned prior to incarceration; low educational attainment; limited or nonexistent work histories; and a high probability of being rearrested.

The Economic Opportunity Initiative will provide the resources necessary for participants to develop the educational and career development skills they need in order to thrive in the workforce. The project will integrate hard skills training and financial empowerment services into the core program model, providing financial instruction, coaching, and goal setting as well as a pathway to a career and sustainable wages for individuals with recent criminal convictions. Formerly incarcerated Tulsans will gain access to GED programs, certification and vocational programs, and financial empowerment workshops that are crucial to ensuring their financial mobility and to ending intergenerational poverty within the community.

Tulsa Landlord Tenant Mediation - Legal Aid
Over the last ten years, Tulsa County has averaged about 14,000 evictions a year. This represents nearly 14,000 families that are thrust into homelessness and instability leading to a loss of school time for children and work time for adults. It takes, on average, two years to recover financially from an eviction and even longer to recover emotionally.

There are significant economic costs to both the property owner and tenant in an eviction. The average cost to a property owner of an eviction, in Tulsa, is $5,350. A typical tenant takes two or more years to overcome an eviction. This includes such barriers as a court judgment, moving/storage or loss of household belongings, homelessness, housing deposit/first months’ rent, and a 7-year credit score hit.

The menu of services for this program will include the CARE (Credit Abuse and Resistance Education) curriculum approved by bankruptcy courts, mediation of disputes between property owners and tenants, and access to basic housing documents like a model lease. Property owners will be incentivized to participate in the meditations by the chance to get a rent catch up payment. In order to qualify for this one-time payment, the property owner will have to agree to certain terms like reducing late fees and including specific protections in their lease The tenant will be incentivized to participate to avoid an eviction filing on their record and to get assistance in catching up their rent. Stabilizing housing is a way to keep families on the edge afloat.

Due North - Tulsa Community WorkAdvance
The Due North (DN) initiative will create partnerships between community-based organizations, businesses, elected officials and schools to provide North Tulsa (NT) residents with soft skills, life skills, technical training and stable employment. DN aims to improve quality of life for North Tulsans and their families by creating a sense of community and hope to help reshape the future of the area. This initiative is unique to Tulsa and will be created and shaped based on the community’s needs. Due North is founded on the framework of collective impact and highly intentional collaboration. It will take the commitment of several key players from government, education, community, and business institutions to come together with a common agenda that will begin to tackle the complex social issues faced by the area’s residents. The DN initiative will be initially comprised of Tulsa Community WorkAdvance, City of Tulsa, Tulsa Housing Authority, CAP Tulsa, Tulsa Dream Center, Tulsa Technology Center and Tulsa Community College. 

DN will provide educational opportunities and services to increase economic security and meet business needs by providing trained, skilled workers, promoting economic growth. This unique, intentional collaboration by multiple, diverse partners focused on NT will achieve a much greater impact. TCW, TCC and TTC will customize training with employers to offer credentials that lead to employment. Other partners will provide wraparound services and workshop space in NT to better support residents.

FinanceAdvance - Tulsa Community Work Advance
Existing financial literacy programs are leaving the most financially vulnerable people out of the conversation. There are no existing programs that look at the reality of making financial decisions while living in poverty. According to the FDIC, nearly 40% of Tulsa residents are unbanked or underbanked and rely on money cards, check-cashing facilities, and payday loan lenders, most of which employ predatory practices that cost the individual significantly more money and keep them trapped in the cycle of poverty. 

FinanceAdvance will remedy this by delivering high-quality curriculum designed to meet Tulsa Community WorkAdvance (TCW) program participants where they are in life and at their level of financial knowledge. TCW already delivers high-quality advanced technical training, Career Readiness Training, career advising, job placement and other life skill workshops; adding a comprehensive financial literacy program will help people prepare for what to do with their money when they begin earning a sustainable wage.

Thank you to all our partners and the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation