United Way of Central Oklahoma Awards Over $240,000 in WayFinder Innovation Grants
OKLAHOMA CITY – United Way of Central Oklahoma continues to support creative solutions to health and human services challenges by awarding $240,294 to local nonprofits through its third annual WayFinder Innovation Grant program. The 2021 recipients are NewView Oklahoma, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma and Youth & Family Services.
The winners were announced Thursday evening on the Love’s Travel Stops Stage at Scissortail Park as part of United Way’s The Hole Shebang! fundraising event.
“United Way is grateful for another year of creative ideas and new approaches to meet significant needs in our community,” said Debby Hampton, United Way of Central Oklahoma president and CEO. “We’re excited to support three new programs that will benefit a wide variety of Oklahomans.”
Launched in 2019, United Way’s WayFinder Innovation Grant program encourages local nonprofits to develop new and innovative approaches to health and human services issues in central Oklahoma. Finalists were invited to pitch their ideas in a ‘Shark Tank’ approach to a panel of community leaders in August, who selected three projects for funding in 2021.
NewView Oklahoma will receive $45,294 for its mobile low vision clinic. The funding will provide equipment to create a free mobile eye clinic to provide individuals in underserved areas with access to eye care. NewView’s program will help remove barriers to eye care by offering free exams to a wide variety of communities in central Oklahoma. The mobile clinics will also help detect early signs of eye disease and help prevent future blindness.
Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma will be given $100,000 to create a simulated forklift operations and virtual reality employment training program. This technology-focused approach will help provide job training in a high-demand field through virtual reality software designed to teach skills needed to operate forklifts. This non-traditional training format teaches technical, digital and soft skills to participants with different learning needs.
Youth & Family Services will receive $95,000 to fund an intergenerational living program at Intrada Apartments in El Reno. The program will create structured, intentional opportunities for low-income seniors, other vulnerable adults and independent living program youth to connect and bond through shared social, recreational, educational and volunteer activities.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the success of this program and the innovative ideas from our nonprofit community,” said Shane Wharton, United Way of Central Oklahoma strategic growth committee chair. “With the inclusion of this year’s grant recipients, United Way of Central Oklahoma has committed $650,000 to 10 different programs as part of the Wayfinder initiative. We’re excited to see continued development of these programs and the range of needs they are addressing in central Oklahoma.”
Previous recipients include City Care, The Homeless Alliance, Mental Health Association Oklahoma, ReMerge, YWCA of Greater Oklahoma City and Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City.