Three West Florida Organizations to Address Economic Disparities Advance in $100,000 Challenge

GuideWell today selected three West Florida organizations to receive seed money to implement their innovative ideas to address economic disparities.

Enhancement Foundation for Community Driven Innovation, Highway Park Neighborhood Preservation (HPIP) and Palm River Family Services, were selected from a group of 8 regional innovators across West Florida to receive $5,000 in funding. They will also advance to GuideWell’s Growing Resilient Communities challenge finals in October for the opportunity to compete for a $40,000 state grand prize. Funds will be used to accelerate the development of their place-based approaches that focus on addressing economic inequities that exist in their respective local communities.

The three organizations from West Florida advancing to the state finals include:

Foundation for Community Driven Innovation (Hillsborough, Tampa) – is a collaborative program of Grow to Greatness Ventures and the Foundation for Community Driven Innovation and local area business leaders. The program is designed to support community facing businesses, not exclusive to tech, businesses like salons, automotive and other trades, restaurant and food services and more. It is highly personal and interactive, mentor-driven and community focused, culminating in a 1 Million Cups presentation as the capstone project for each participant.

Highway Park Neighborhood Preservation (Highlands, Hillsborough) – provides a range of services designed to help low to very low-income people attain skills, knowledge and motivation to achieve self-sufficiency. The three driving forces behind HPIP were identified through annual community meetings and surveys and include: Health (healthy living initiatives, exercise programs, and annual health fairs), Social (festivals, exhibits, forums, arts programs), and Economic (employment programs, financial literacy, and Affordable Housing) to help build wealth.

Palm River Family Services (Hillsborough, Tampa) – offers educational workshops to provide families with financial literacy, credit skills, and guidance towards becoming an entrepreneur. At their site, the organization provides business-related workshops, guidance, and counseling services for individuals who are working towards starting or building upon a business.

“We want to applaud all of the applicants for demonstrating their passion and willingness to innovate, collaborate and drive change for the people and communities in West Florida,” said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation. “This challenge is designed to empower local residents to help jumpstart their communities and create long-term economic prosperity, which in turn can lead to healthier and stronger communities.”

According to a September 2020 report by the Urban Institute called Creating Places of Opportunity for All, there is a direct correlation between the economic prosperity of a person’s neighborhood and their health.

In July, GuideWell issued the statewide challenge to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, innovators and organizations to advance community-based entrepreneurship, financial literary, as well as access to educational, legal and health resources.

Aside from Thursday’s event in West Florida, three other regional virtual pitch events are taking place throughout the state. All finalists from each region will be invited to present their approaches and compete for the grand prize of $40,000 at the Growing Resilient Communities challenge statewide showcase on Wednesday, October 27. Like the regional pitch competitions, this year’s statewide event will also be held virtually. All competition participants will also receive the unique opportunity to attend the GuideWell Growing Resilient Communities virtual town hall event on Thursday, October 28, an invitation-only, collaborative gathering, bringing together experts and stakeholders from across the state and nation to focus on improving economic disparities in Florida communities.