United Way announces Impact on the Plains finalists

WICHITA, Kan., Nov. 8, 2021 — Eight finalists have been named for Impact on the Plains, United Way’s first ever “Shark Tank”-style social innovation competition that will award up to $100,000 to nonprofits with bold solutions to community issues. A diverse group of community judges have selected the top two program applications in the four focus areas of health, education, financial stability and basic needs. Finalists will make their pitch on stage in a live competition for an investment of $25,000 in each focus area. The exclusive event will be held on National Philanthropy Day, Nov. 15.

Community judges reviewed applications from 75 different area agencies before selecting the eight finalists. In addition to learning more about these eight initiatives during the presentations by the finalists, judges will ask questions of each of the presenters to help them determine the winning solutions. The finalists address the needs of a variety of groups, from school-aged refugees to adults who are victims of domestic violence, across the eight-county service area covered by United Way of the Plains.

Abel Frederic, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of the Plains, was impressed with the number of nonprofits that participated and the quality of the applications. “We saw programs that addressed a variety of issues, and we’re looking forward to the presentations that will be made during the final competition. This new way of making an immediate investment in critical areas of need is a first for Wichita, and we hope it will foster more creativity in developing innovative ways to solve our local challenges. We want to encourage more ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking when it comes to helping our community achieve its potential.”

The eight finalists are:


  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.

Financial Stability

  • 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 a way out of poverty and are supported for two to five years following graduation.
  • 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.

Basic Needs

  • 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.
  • 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.

Check the social media platforms for United Way of the Plains on Nov. 15 to learn which nonprofits take home the $25,000 investment. Visit unitedwayplains.org/impact for more information about the competition. The host sponsor for the event is Textron Aviation. Koch Industries is the Innovator Sponsor. The Investor Sponsor is EY. Spirt AeroSystems is the Kickstarter Sponsor.


MEDIA CONTACT: Angie Prather, Vice President of Marketing and Chief Community Engagement Officer, (316) 267‑1321, ext. 4105, aprather@unitedwayplains.org

United Way of the Plains is a nonprofit and for-impact organization that focuses on health, education, financial stability and basic needs – the building blocks for a good quality of life and a strong community. Our mission is to improve lives by harnessing the caring power of our community to advance the common good in south central Kansas. Follow us on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.


Published On: November 8, 2021


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