Venture Fund Winner Page

In a time of unprecedented uncertainty, innovation in the social sector is critically important. With needs growing by the day, creative solutions to address the entrenched issues this crisis has brought to light are more important than ever.  In this year’s Venture Fund competition, eight nonprofits pitched their innovative initiatives to tackle challenges faced by the most vulnerable members of our community. These eight pitches addressed some of those needs and are the best of the best – jury-selected over a 2,000-hour process from a field of more than 50 proposals. Only four were chosen, each winning an award of up to $75,000 each to bring their ideas to life and scale. Check out the game-changing ideas our winners will bring to life.


More Than Words

Malden YMCA

Home For All

South Shore Stars



Compass Working Capital will partner with WinnCompanies and four community development corporations to bring the powerful federal Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program to families who are FSS-eligible but live at privately owned properties too small to operate their own FSS program. FSS allows families to build assets like savings while living in subsidized housing. The goal is to enroll 85 families in the first year and grow to serve 250 families by the end of the third.

NECAT is proposing a new approach in partnership with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department that will train incarcerated individuals to help them move directly into career-ladder culinary jobs upon release. Low-risk prisoners will be transported to NECAT for culinary, social-emotional and financial training, case management and support, and career coaching and job placement services for several months prior to their release. Pre-identified partner employers will offer program graduates solid starting wages and pathways to advancement. NECAT plans to graduate 30 students, across three cohorts, in the first year.

Roca will launch the Roca Impact Institute, a new training arm of Roca to coach other nonprofit professionals and public officials across the country to work with high-risk young people. In this pilot, Suffolk and Essex County Houses of Corrections will receive 6 months of comprehensive training to allow them to offer real-time cognitive-behavioral-therapy to high-risk incarcerated youth. The goal is to help these kids overcome trauma, recover the power of choice over their actions, and ultimately allow them to become economically mobile.

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) will address the social determinants of health to prevent financial crises and homelessness and improve the health of low-income families through an expansion of their Chelsea Health Starts at Home (HSAH) program. Patients at MGH’s clinics in Everett and Revere will receive an upstream “prescription” for TND’s financial capability services when they are in a financially vulnerable position to help them become more resilient in the face of unexpected challenges. In the first year of this expansion, 50 MGH patients will access TND’s services. This number will increase to 200 by the end of the second year.

About Venture Fund

United Way’s Venture Fund is a catalyst for getting promising new ideas for driving population-level change into practice. A competitive, juried selection process results in four awards of up to $75,000 each to nonprofits that have the experience, community presence, and relationships to approach a big problem in a new way, but need funding and a thought partner to bring that idea to life.

Community organizations in our service area are asked to submit innovative, collaborative approaches to achieving any of the following impact goals:

  • All individuals have safe, permanent, affordable housing
  • All adults have jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families
  • All adults are able to meet their basic needs and achieve a state of financial wellbeing
  • All children enter kindergarten ready to learn
  • All youth graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and/or careers


Agencies submitted a Letter of Intent by December 31, 2019. Applications were due February 28, 2020.

Dozens of volunteers reviewed applications and provided United Way with critical support in selecting up to eight finalists to pitch their ideas.

For more information about the Venture Fund, please contact Karley Ausiello at