DALLAS, May 21, 2019 — The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health, announced today that it has invested a total of $1.15 million in eight social entrepreneurs combating disparities that adversely impact health outcomes. The initial round of investments in Flint, Michigan and Boston are the first disbursements from the Association’s Social Impact Fund, which was established to support local entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations in under-resourced communities to help them scale their sustainable solutions addressing social determinants of health – the environmental and social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.
These conditions highlight the challenges faced by individuals living in the poorest pockets of our society as a result of unsafe or unaffordable housing, limited access to healthy foods and even stressful relationships. Such inequity can make a major difference in cardiovascular health, quality of life – and even life expectancy.
Where you live shouldn’t determine how well or how long you live, but it does. In fact, approximately 80 percent of a person’s health is determined by factors other than access and quality of clinical care. Through the Social Impact Fund, the American Heart Association aims to fuel these efforts and break down social and economic barriers that prevent millions of people from living longer, healthier lives.
The Association recognized the urgent need for thoughtful, localized solutions to help people in every zip code. The fund was established through the generosity of socially conscious philanthropists Stevie and David Spina of Wayland, Massachusetts through a $5 million donation in August 2018. These initial investments will expand programs run by Boston and Flint, Michigan based organizations aimed at addressing the economic and social conditions that can affect a person’s health like social cohesion, housing and food access.
“Making financial investments in community organizations to help them scale their business for maximum health impact is a new approach aimed at driving community transformation,” said Neil Meltzer, president and CEO of Life Bridge Health, and a member of the Association’s Social Impact Fund Investment Advisory Committee. “We believe this model – scaling proven solutions designed by the community and for the community – has the potential to accelerate health impact.”
Following are the newly funded social enterprises:
- Smart from the Start, which is focused on social cohesion and early childhood development and education, will receive a $250,000 investment to support their efforts to promote the health and well-being of vulnerable families while providing resources to help secure long-term financial security and sustainability.
- Fathers’ Uplift, which is focused on social cohesion, will receive a $150,000 investment to support operational needs and support Fathers’ Uplift’s full sustainability.
- HomeStart, which is focused on housing, will receive a $250,000 investment to speed expansion of their eviction prevention program in subsidized housing properties across Boston.
- Fresh Truck, which is focused on food access and food insecurity, will receive a $150,000 investment to aid in the development of their new food prescription platform, Fresh Connect.
- bosWell, which is focused on access to healthcare, will receive a $50,000 investment to reduce the impact of social determinants through a scalable technology pathway.
- Flint, Michigan
- MADE Institute, which is focused on social cohesion, employment and income, will receive a $100,000 investment to establish a sustainable business model that will support thousands of people in successfully reentering into society.
- Urban Renaissance Center, which is focused on social cohesion, employment, income and environment, will receive a $100,000 investment to help drive the expansion of job-creating social enterprises, increase access to clean water and reduce pollution in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.
- Flint Fresh, which is focused on food access and food insecurity, will receive a $150,000 investment to meet the urgent need for healthy food of the city’s low-income residents, traditional consumers and businesses, and spur economic growth by driving increased revenues to local farmers.
“We are incredibly proud to be investing directly in these communities. Social determinants are interconnected, so our investments will be, too,” said 18th United States Surgeon General and Social Impact Fund Investment Advisory Committee member Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA. “Together, these solutions have a chance to create a lasting positive health impact in the communities they serve. We’re excited to see the changes unfold as the fund continues to attract new funding, grow and reach more communities nationwide.”
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173
Bridget O’Leary: 214-706-1152; Bridget.Oleary@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)