DALLAS – Approximately 50 million people in the United States are at higher risk for heart disease and/or stroke because they lack the most basic needs — healthy food, clean air and drinking water, quality education, employment, housing and access to health care. Historically, people of color -- including Black and Hispanic/Latino people, are at even higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) for these same reasons.¹ Through the American Heart Association’s 2023 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™, three local social entrepreneurs have been awarded cash grants to continue the innovative work they are doing to address health inequities at the community level nationwide. The American Heart Association, a global force for longer healthier lives for all, has recognized these individuals from a group of twelve finalists who participated in the program.
Now in its seventh year, the Business Accelerator has engaged and celebrated the work of more than 100 individuals, non-profits and for-profits who are developing innovative ways to impact the health of the communities where they live, work and play. This year, the top 20 applications out of more than 200 were selected based on the strength of their existing business models as well as their ability to measurably impact health equity barriers. The finalists were then formally evaluated by the
Association’s professional science health metrics team and scored based on a variety of criteria -- health impact, innovation and scalability. From this group, twelve individuals were then invited to participate in the six-week Business Accelerator “experience” and were challenged to identify and address a specific, measurable, health impact case study challenge. Responses to this case study challenge were evaluated and refined using design-thinking principles and data-driven customer discovery analyses. Finalist candidates were challenged to blend their “moonshots” with the practical business models taught as part of the program. Final grant recipients were ultimately selected by an independent panel that included tech entrepreneurs and small business investment experts and reviewed on October 19, 2023.
Three cash grants totaling $67,000 were awarded to the following entrepreneurs for their efforts:
Each of the nine remaining finalists received $1,000.
“Since 2017, the American Heart Association, with the support of corporate sponsors, has awarded more than $1.1 million to help accelerate start-ups and provide needed assistance to social entrepreneurs and support organizations addressing the social determinants of health in their communities,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “With the knowledge gained in the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator, these local change makers can take the next steps to improve health and wellness where they are needed most. We are eager to see the innovative breakthroughs that will come from this experience.”
About the Business Accelerator
The application process ran from May through June 2023 and selected candidates participated in six weeks of intensive, online business training immediately following their selection into the Accelerator. The program’s core curriculum offers formal instruction on design thinking, customer discovery, market positioning, brand development, fundraising, and other essential business functions to help entrepreneurs enhance their business models and demonstrate the viability of projects.
Participant plans and presentations were judged by a panel of experts in the business, community and health sectors, including Jason Barnett, senior vice president at Invest with Detroit, Courtney Couch, strategic advisor for Path Water & the VP of Marketing at Interscope Geffen Records, and Colby Takeda, MPH, MBA, co-founder, and chief executive officer of Pear Suite.
The finale was emceed by Shanta Quilette Carter Williams, an entrepreneur, inspirational and motivational speaker, and social media creator. For over twenty years, Ms. Carter Williams has used beauty, fashion and lifestyle to engage, entertain and inspire women from all walks of life.
United Way ALICE: The Consequences of Insufficient Income 2017 Report
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on Heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For more information, please get in touch with Joseph Marks, 210-810-3093, email@example.com
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) heart.org and stroke.org
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