DALLAS, April 4, 2023  People who already face inequitable health risks are becoming even more at risk[1]. One in five residents in the Bay Area is living in poverty[2], a reality that has been sustained throughout the effects of the pandemic. The conditions in which we live explain in part why some people are healthier than others[3].

To sustainably improve social determinants of health, the American Heart Association, devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, has infused $1.1 million dollars into six social enterprises within the Bay Area. With this third cycle of funding, the AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has invested a collective $2.48 million across the Bay Area in support of community-led solutions.

“Where someone lives should not dictate how long or how well a person lives – but it does,” said Laura Steinfeldt, region senior vice president and Bay Area executive director for the American Heart Association. “Through the American Heart Association’s commitment to address social determinants of health, communities across the Bay Area will benefit from the creative solutions of these social enterprises who join our mission to ensure every person has the same opportunity for a full and healthy life.”

The Social Impact Funds support non-profit or for-profit social enterprises at any business stage. A governance committee comprised of American Heart Association volunteers and executives review all investment recommendations looking for three key things – demonstrated ability to drive change in under-resourced communities, an organic connection to the community itself and an ability to scale for maximum health impact. The Funds specifically support social enterprises and entrepreneurs addressing access to health and healthcare, economic resiliency and food security.

Contributions from Kaiser Permanente and the Anne Wojcicki Foundation are supporting these most recent investments of the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund in the Bay Area.

“Our late chairman, Bernard J. Tyson, knew that in order to transform healthcare our efforts need to move beyond the four walls of hospitals and doctor’s offices and include the influence of factors including economic opportunity and housing security,” said Yvette Radford, regional vice president for external and community affairs at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. “This most recent investment through the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund accelerates the work of critical social enterprises to improve health in some of the Bay Area’s most under-resourced communities which aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of the communities we serve.”

The third round of Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund recipients for the Bay Area are:

  • Farming Hope is a garden-to-table job training nonprofit that works with individuals who are overcoming major barriers to employment including former incarceration or homelessness to create a path of stability. Through a 12-week training program, Apprentices receive paid culinary and hospitality training by preparing meals for food insecure community members.
  • Firebrand is a mission-based bakery that hires returning citizens and formerly homeless individuals into high-quality jobs to enable them to become active and vibrant members of the community. Workers receive a living wage, extensive job training and financial literacy support with the goal of disrupting the cycle of poverty and recidivism.
  • Growing Together is a nonprofit working for the health and sustainability of school communities through schoolyard greening, teaching gardens, and increasing access to fresh food. Through their produce distribution service, Farms to Communities, they are address food insecurity in low-income, low-food-access school communities and improving market accessibility for small local farmers.
  • Saba Grocers is a nonprofit initiative building a more equitable food system through activating small, immigrant-owned corner stores as healthy food access points. Through a shared mission of transforming inventory towards healthy groceries, they are shifting systemic conditions that perpetuate neighborhood food insecurity.
  • Sober Sidekick is a digital health engagement company, powering community-driven behavioral change based on the concept that ‘the opposite of addiction is connection.’ The platform is a decentralized mental health support tool motivating people to assist others toward recovery.
  • Urban Ed Academy is a Black-led nonprofit with the mission of building educational equity through representative leadership in and around schools. The group has the ultimate vision to ensure that every student has at least one Black male teacher before sixth grade by motivating, recruiting, training and supporting Black men into the teaching profession.

Since its launch in 2018 and initial community investments in 2019, the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Funds including the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund have invested in more than 100 local social enterprises across the country. Learn more about the American Heart Association Social Impact Funds here.


Additional Resources

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.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  

For Media Inquiries:

Donna Kato: 408-606-5958, donna.kato@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
heart.org and stroke.org

[1] American Heart Association | 10 Commitments Impact Report (Dec. 2022)

[2] UC Berkley Tipping Point Community | Taking Count: A Study on Poverty in the Bay Area (2021)

[3] Magnan S. Social Determinants of Health 201 for Health Care: Plan, Do, Study, Act. NAM Perspect 2021.