Current Initiatives

Change for the community, by the community 

About Southeast Raleigh

*Raleigh—continuously cited as one of the best places to live in America—is ranked #88 out of 100 largest cities nationwide in distressed communities. The zone of deepest need sits squarely in Southeast Raleigh with nearly 10,000 people facing low educational attainment, high unemployment, and staggering poverty levels. Nationwide, there is a recognition that the people best suited to create solutions to address these issues are those who live and work there. The Southeast Raleigh Challenge was designed to encourage community-level solutions.

*Source: Economic Innovation Group, February 2016; Data: EIG analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data

About the Southeast Raleigh Innovation Challenge

United Way of the Greater Triangle, Wake County, the City of Raleigh, and Southeast Raleigh Promise – in partnership with a Co-Design Team of community leaders sponsored this first Southeast Raleigh Social Innovation Challenge. The purpose of the Challenge was to fund ideas to help bring jobs, resources, and support for innovation to help fuel the economic engine that is vital to this historic part of Raleigh.

The Challenge engaged community residents, small businesses, nonprofits, faith-based groups, youth and other organizations within the 27601, 27603, and 27610 zip codes with identifying solutions to economic and social issues within their community that are innovative yet practical.

A six-week accelerator program, managed through Carolina Small Business Development Fund, helped semi-finalists prepare for their final pitch.

Winners of the Challenge

More than 200 people filled a room at Raleigh’s Convention Center Friday night as they listened to the final pitches in the Southeast Raleigh Innovation Challenge. Participants made their pitches to a panel of judges, fellow community members, and dignitaries including Regina Petteway, Director of Wake County Human Services; Commissioner James West; and City Councilman, Corey Branch.

The event was the culmination of a four-month process starting with initial concept pitches by 53 groups in July, a business accelerator and coaching process, and ending with business pitches by the five final participants. The total prize pool was over $100,000.

The Challenge’s overall winner was Lydia Newman with her business Word of God Christian Academy Tech Career Pathways. Lydia’s business proposal is to increase tech job skills and college prep for Southeast Raleigh students in grades 8-12. These “Tech Ambassadors” will develop culturally relevant tech-related activities.

Second place went to Major Best for Barber School. His proposal was to create a barber college that brings resources and job opportunities to the community. His focus will be on at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated individuals. In addition to job skills, participants will also receive training on life skills and overall career preparation. An added benefit to the community is the Barber School will offer $5 haircuts.

The audience was able to give their input into a People’s Choice award. The winner was Jana Avery for No Friday’s for Music, a nonprofit centered on the artistic and personal development of Southeast Raleigh youth, focused skill development to work in the music industry. Overall, Jana’s pitch came in third.

Each of the five pitch presentations received a financial award to help launch their business concept. The other two pitches included Malikia Robertson for Yoga4Us; and Keschia Martin for Players2Pros.

Seed capital awards were given to the following individuals and their projects: Brandy Burnett for Smart Money Matters, Fernando Martinez for Education Justice Alliance Peacebuilders, Wilma Metcalf for The Baby Box, Nathaniel Myers for The Malkuta Project, and Darryel Washington for Front and Back 9 Junior Golf Academy.

“I’m excited for our continued work with the winners, as they develop their ideas and begin implementing elements of their proposals. I’m hopeful that these ideas, led by the community, are a spark for a thriving and growing Southeast Raleigh that presents opportunities for success for everyone who lives and works there” stated Britney McCoy, from United Way of the Greater Triangle and member of the co-design team.

The competition’s judges included: Zurilma Anuel from the Carolina Small Business Development Fund; LaChaun Banks from NC Growth – Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise; Bill O’Boyle of North State Consulting; Michael Leach from the Governor’s Office of Public Engagement; and Kendrick Williams of the John Wall Family Foundation.
The evening was filled with high-energy cheers and applause as each participant pitched his or her idea. Mikaya Thurmond, a television reporter from WRAL was the evening’s MC. While the judges deliberated on the competition’s winning pitch, the audience was entertained and inspired by keynote speaker, Greg Hill.


  • Partners
    • United Way of the Greater Triangle
    • Wake County Government
    • City of Raleigh
    • Southeast Raleigh Promise
    • Carolina Small Business Development Fund & Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center
  • Co-Design Team
    • Verna Best, Wake County
    • Kristin Feierabend, North Carolina Cooperative Extension
    • Kia Baker, Southeast Raleigh Promise
    • Quintin Murphy, Southeast Raleigh Assembly
    • Tamisha Thomas, Too Much TV
    • Talib Graves-Manns, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center
    • Kirby Jones, The Daniel Center
    • Diana Powell, Justice Served
    • Teia Evans, Carolina Common Enterprise
    • Joe Battle, Carolina Small Business Development Fund
    • Richard Moore, Carolina Small Business Development Fund
    • Priscilla Awkard, Coastal Federal Credit Union
    • Britney McCoy, United Way of the Greater Triangle
    • Melanie Davis-Jones, United Way of the Greater Triangle


Contact Britney McCoy with any questions., 919-463-1378