Impact on the Plains

A social innovation competition in pursuit of bold solutions.

United Way of the Plains’ first ever social innovation competition invited nonprofits to pitch their ideas for bold solutions to community issues in a “Shark-Tank” style event that awarded $120,000.




Mark your calendar. The application portal below opens Monday, Oct. 11,  and closes promptly at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 3.


Community judges review applications and narrow the competition down to the top two in each focus area.
Finalists will be announced Monday, Nov. 8.

Pitch presentations

The top two contenders in each focus area make their final pitch to the ‘Shark Tank’ panel of community leaders at an exclusive event on National Philanthropy Day, Monday, Nov. 15.

Championship Ribbon

We’re not going to make you wait. Judges announce the winners at the conclusion of the event.


United Way celebrated National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 15 by hosting Impact on the Plains: THE PITCH. Eight nonprofits pitched their bold solutions to community issues to community judges in a “Shark Tank”-style event. Four recipients in the areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs were chosen to receive $25,000 investments. Read the full press release here.


Breakthrough Episcopal Social Services logo.

New Psychiatric Care System for Homeless Adults – Breakthrough Episcopal Social Services

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Providing psychiatric care for mentally ill adults living in extreme poverty. This program will benefit our community by assisting 200 homeless or very low-income adults who have a mental illness.


Wichita State University Foundation logo.

Project Education for All –Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners, Wichita State University Foundation

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Teaching 3,000 resettled refugee children in Wichita Public Schools to learn English and successfully integrate into our community. Through a digital, locally-developed game-based platform presented in native languages, refugee and asylee children will more effectively learn science and English.


Lead for Kansas logo.

Fellowship Program – Lead for Kansas

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Addressing the talent retention/attraction challenge by bringing back home-grown leaders to work in our region. Funding will support the Hustle and Heart campaign designed to mobilize resources to engage the next generation of leaders.


StepStone logo.

Increasing Financial Stability for Survivors of Domestic Violence – StepStone

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Empowering survivors of domestic violence by addressing the financial abuse that is one of the barriers to helping them achieve independence. Counseling, housing, advocacy and other support services will help rebuild the lives of victims and their children.


The four runners-up did not leave empty handed. They each received a $5,000 investment to jumpstart their innovative ideas to make an impact in our community as well.


Derby Citizens Recreation Association logo.

Unsinkables – Derby Citizens Recreation Association

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Providing 550 second grade students in Derby Public Schools with training to reduce childhood drowning accidents, the third leading cause of unintentional deaths for Kansas children. This program will help in the historically underserved Oaklawn community and include students with physical, mental and emotional challenges.


Exploration Place logo.

Impactful Science Field Trips for Fourth Graders – Exploration Place

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Providing Title I students in Wichita and surrounding counties with a unique science learning opportunity to reduce pandemic-induced learning loss. This project offers all fourth-grade students at Title I schools a funded field trip to Exploration Place to help students become more engaged in STEM subjects.


Augusta Core Community logo.

Core Community – Youth Core Ministries of Augusta, Kansas

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Attacking the issue of poverty by targeting one community at a time. The Core Community program will address poverty and economic stability for anyone living in poverty in Augusta, Kansas. Through a unique 20-week class, participants learn


City of Wichita Park & Recreation logo.

El Jardín de los Sueños en Evergreen (The Garden of Dreams at Evergreen) – Wichita Park Foundation

INNOVATIVE OUTCOME: Cultivating a community garden to provide healthy options in a low-income, geographical food desert. Serving 1,000 underserved people in Wichita, this project is the shared vision of six organizations who will partner to ensure success.


Please join us in thanking these individuals for sharing their time and expertise as judges.

*United Way of the Plains Board Member

Wayne Bell*
Wayne Bell*United Way of the Plains Board Member & Federal Executive
Laurie Labarca*
Laurie Labarca*President, Ascension Via Christi St. Teresa and Ascension Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital
Teresa Miller
Teresa MillerPresident & CEO, Kansas Health Foundation
Gene Camarena
Gene CamarenaPresident & CEO, La Raza Pizza, Inc.
Jeff Morris
Jeff Morris Chief Human Resources Officer, INTRUST Bank
Dr. Alicia Thompson*
Dr. Alicia Thompson*Superintendent, Wichita Public Schools
Ebony Clemons-Ajibolade*
Ebony Clemons-Ajibolade*Senior Economic Development Manager of Kansas Projects, Evergy
Matt Michaelis
Matt Michaelis President & CEO, Emprise Bank
John Rolfe
John Rolfe President & CEO, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
Bobby Gandu*
Bobby Gandu*Assistant Vice President, Strategic Enrollment Management, Wichita State University
Shelly Prichard
Shelly Prichard President & CEO, Wichita Community Foundation
Jennifer Szambecki*
Jennifer Szambecki*Marketing Director, Hutton


Contact Abel Frederic, United Way Vice President of Community Impact, at or (316) 267‑1321.