Social Innovation from the United Way

Posted By Frank Vinluan


Businesses don’t have a monopoly on innovation. Nonprofit organizations can innovate, as well, and John-Paul Smith says that new approaches to community programs can find more ways to help more people more effectively. John-Paul, director of Innovate United at United Way of the Greater Triangle, explained how the organization is innovating in its community work.

Innovate United started last year with the Childhood Hunger Innovation Challenge. The challenge turned to the community to come up with ideas to address hunger in the community. In the Triangle, one in five children goes hungry or lives in a households that are “food insecure,” meaning they have limited or uncertain access to food, John-Paul explained. The 50 submitted ideas were narrowed down to a single winner — the child nutrition director for Durham Public Schools. The $50,000 prize was used to revamp the program providing breakfast to school children. Innovate United’s 2016 social innovation challenge will also focus on hunger. The challenge will start on Feb. 5.