New Spark Prize Gwinnett to award local agencies, partners with innovation grants

by Katie Morris, www.gwinnettdailypost.com, February 2, 2016

Have an innovative idea for a project that could address important human care issues in Gwinnett, but lacking the funds to make it happen?

Community innovators have the chance to win up to $25,000 for their nonprofit or community group through Spark Prize Gwinnett County.

United Way of Greater Atlanta, in partnership with The Primerica Foundation, The Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, Partnership Gwinnett, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, announced Tuesday its first-ever live, micro grants competition offering awards up to $25,000.

Spark Prize Gwinnett aims to recognize innovators who are creating cutting-edge human care solutions to some of the toughest issues surrounding income, education, health, hunger and homelessness.

“Our goal is to award agencies and innovation partners with grants and capacity building supports with new projects and initiatives to improve human care conditions for Gwinnett residents,” DePriest Waddy, Regional Director at United Way of Greater Atlanta, said in a news release. “Spark Prize Gwinnett is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with great organizations and donors to fund some new and innovative approaches to serve Gwinnettians who need a hand up — not a hand out.”

Finalists will be chosen April 1 from video submissions, which are due by March 1. Similar to the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” finalists will then pitch their ideas to a panel of judges during a live event held April 28 at the Primerica campus in Duluth.

The 2015 Spark Prize Atlanta winner, Jamie Lackey of Helping Mamas, was able to launch an innovative idea to provide baby supplies to mothers in crisis.

“Winning the United Way Spark Prize was a game changer for Helping Mamas. It helped launch us into a pattern of success,” Lackey said in a release. “Prior to the Spark Prize, we had seven partner agencies and served 200 children. Since winning the Spark Prize, we have grown to 27 partner agencies and serve over 2,000 children. With United Way’s partnership with our agency, we have been able to secure additional funding and support to help our agency grow.”

Spark Prize applicants must either be located in Gwinnett and serving Gwinnett residents or located in metro Atlanta and serving Gwinnett residents. All applicants must be a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit or community group that has an affiliation with a registered 501 (c)(3) that will serve as its fiscal agent.

Interested applicants can learn more about the event and application process during information sessions held by United Way. There will be four one-hour sessions for interested applicants leading up to the March 1 video submission deadline.

There will be a conference call at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, and informational webinar sessions at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 and at 9 a.m. on Feb. 19. There will also be an information session at noon on Feb. 22 at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce located at 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.

Interested applicants should email tchristian@unitedway.org to rsvp for a session.

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