Local Nonprofit Takes 'Shark Tank' Approach to Address Health and Human Service Needs

2019 WayFinder recipient Mental Health Association Oklahoma launched a Street Outreach & Rapid Response Team in Oklahoma City to provide food during the COVID-19 pandemic to camps of those experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The United Way of Central Oklahoma invites local nonprofits to submit innovative approaches to address genuine health and human service needs of central Oklahoma to the second annual WayFinder Innovation Grant opportunity. Successful applicants could receive up to $250,000 in one-time funding.

Local nonprofits may submit innovative ideas that address problems within United Way of Central Oklahoma’s five focus areas: strong families, successful kids, healthy citizens, independent living and community preparedness. Finalists will be invited to pitch the idea in a ‘Shark Tank’ approach to a panel of community leaders, who will select the nonprofit(s) with the most promising and viable ideas to receive one-time funding from United Way of Central Oklahoma.

“Nonprofits are facing unprecedented challenges, not only to meet existing needs of the community, but also those that continue to emerge from the pandemic,” said Debby Hampton, president and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma. “United Way is excited to provide an opportunity for central Oklahoma nonprofits to think outside of the box and present ideas that could make a significant impact on health and human service needs in our community.”

The WayFinder Innovation Grant application process begins 3-4:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 20, with a virtual informational meeting via Zoom. Interested nonprofits may RSVP to attend by emailing wayfinder@unitedwayokc.org by Friday, May 15.

In 2019, five nonprofits were selected for funding through the WayFinder Innovation Grant.

  • City Care’s Samaritan project helps connect donations with nearby people in need through a mobile app.
  • The Homeless Alliance’s Curbside Apparel project offers employment for those experiencing homelessness through a screen printing business.
  • Mental Health Association Oklahoma’s Homeless Street Outreach OK program deploys outreach teams to offer help to those experiencing chronic homelessness.
  • ReMerge’s Courageous Cookies program provides professional skills to clients through a social enterprise bakery.
  • YWCA Oklahoma City’s Raise the Bar program educates local restaurant and bar workers how to recognize and intercede in potential sexual assault situations.

Find more information about the WayFinder Innovation Grant.


About United Way of Central Oklahoma
United Way of Central Oklahoma researches human needs within the communities of central Oklahoma and directs resources to accountable health and human services agencies to meet those needs by improving the health, safety, education and economic well-being of its most vulnerable citizens. For more information about United Way of Central Oklahoma, please visit www.unitedwayokc.org or call (405) 236-8441.