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United Way currently accepting innovative ideas for social change

August 20, 2018

Gents for Jax is an innovative mentoring program for male students at Sandalwood High School created by Upstream winners Farouk Smith and Vaughn Sayers.

When you think of innovation, do you imagine Steve Jobs tinkering away in his garage? Or maybe Mark Zuckerberg writing code in a college dorm room? Did you know there’s an entire community dedicated to using innovative ideas to make the world a better place?

United Way of Northeast Florida believes the solutions to some of our community’s toughest challenges can be derived from social innovation initiatives like Upstream. Social innovation is “the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress,” according to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Upstream, a social innovation challenge for ages 18-24, invites Northeast Florida residents to develop creative solutions for issues in our community.

Upstream awards up to $5,000 for project ideas that improve the lives of low-income families in Northeast Florida. Finalists use their passion for serving others and United Way partnerships to create social change firsthand. With the assistance of a community-coach, finalists learn skills such as public speaking, professional writing, and networking as they work to bring their idea to life.

Previous award-winning Upstream ideas include mentoring programs, public art installations by local middle school students, and food recovery programs to help our community’s most vulnerable, but there’s still work to do. Whether as a small group or an individual, you can apply to compete in Upstream and share your innovative solution for community change.

To learn more about Upstream applications or investment opportunities visit unitedwaynefl.org/upstream. For questions, contact Sydney Solan, manager of strategic engagement and stewardship, at sydneys@nulluwnefl.org.