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social innovation grant application


Social innovation is an exhilarating vision that seeks to leverage more efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions while aiding new programs that address community gaps in critical areas such as health, education, and financial stability. Adopting a bold approach that integrates innovative thinking, collaborative strategy, and creative problem-solving allows us to make a substantial impact in our community.

In 2020, United Way of East TN Highlands established the Social Innovation Fund to support community-based organizations in Northeast Tennessee. The fund accelerates their cycle of innovation, enabling them to test and refine promising practices and enhance their positive impact on families in the region. Our support is particularly valuable to organizations that may lack the resources to incubate, pilot, and scale new programs for a greater impact in the future. Join us as we strive towards a future that is sustainable, equitable, and prosperous for all.

Nonprofit or community 501(c)3 organizations with socially innovative programs less than 2 years old are eligible to apply.

*The application to apply for this grant in 2023 has closed as of April 5, 2023 at 12:01am*

How Funds Are Distributed

Local non-profits are encouraged to apply and share why their socially innovative program is worthy of, and would benefit from, a $10,000 grant. Finalists will be chosen by our Community Impact Team and invited to participate in our annual Problem-Solving Pitches event.

This year’s Problem Solving Pitches event will feature nine live pitches from local nonprofit organizations who are looking to innovatively solve problems in our communities. The organizations will be pitching to a three-judge panel and a live voting audience. The three pitchers with the highest number of votes will each be awarded a $10,000 grant! Three additional grants focused on education will be given out to support our Tennessee Afterschool Network (TAN) organizations.


Problem Solving Pitches Event

Make plans to join us and invite all your friends, especially if you are pitching, every vote counts!
May 11, 2023, at ETSU’s Martin Center Black Box Theatre
5:30 – 6:00      Gathering with Heavy Hors d’Oeuvres and Cash Bar*
6:00 – 7:30      Problem-Solving Pitch Event
7:30 – 8:00+    Celebration with Dessert and Cash Bar*
(*Tea, Water, Beer, Wine)

Thanks to this year’s event sponsors!




A Step Ahead Foundation Tri-Cities – Mobile Health Unit
Established in April of 2019, ASAF provides long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARC) across the Northeast Tennessee footprint. Ballad Health is retrofitting a mobile unit and training a Nurse Practitioner, while the Social Innovation Grant will go towards A Step Ahead Foundation’s efforts to provide free LARC to all those without preventative insurance coverage.

Huschka House
Established in February of 2021, the mission of Huschka House is to provide homeless young adults in Northeast Tennessee with a safe living environment, affordable housing, and supportive services in order to ensure lifelong stability and success. Huschka House promotes equality and acceptance for all young adults.

Junt@s of Johnson City

Established in February of 2021, Junt@s is a task force that has the goal of bringing together local partners to promote the financial stability of the diverse population of Washington County and neighboring areas. They aim to privde a haven for the immigrant, Black and Latinx populations so they can have a safe environment to flourish and seek assistance if they need to. 


Johnson County Senior Center – MyRide
MyRide TN of Johnson County is a senior-friendly program that offers door-through-door transportation that is provided by a well-screened and trained volunteer staff.

Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians – Girl Scouts Make a rpl. Effect
This program connects Girl Scouts with peer Girl Scouts who have successfully completed their High Awards, Girl Scout alumni, as well as vetted adult experts in their respected fields.

Northeast TN / Southwest VA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Alliance
This alliance intends to build regional awareness and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion for all people of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

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