DALLAS, MAY 14, 2020 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is calling on social entrepreneurs nationwide to apply for EmPOWERED To Serve Business Accelerator™ financial grant awards to help improve underlying health conditions in underserved communities.

“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic challenges such as lack of access to quality health care, jobs, education and housing, contributed to disparities that appear to be exacerbating the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Bertram L. Scott, chair of the American Heart Association Board of Directors. “The effects of COVID-19 on under-resourced communities are as much about pre-existing medical conditions as they are about pre-existing social conditions.”

According to World Health Organization data, people living in underserved communities have a higher risk of developing heart disease.[1] For decades, the mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease and stroke has been higher among African Americans than all other ethnicities. Furthermore, Hispanics and blacks are more likely to live with diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites.[2]

Applicants must provide proposed business solutions to specifically address and improve challenges presented by the social determinants of health — the social and economic conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work and play — in historically excluded communities. Now through July 31, 2020, interested entrepreneurs may apply to the grant program at empoweredtoserve.org/accelerator.

Upon selection, candidates will begin eight weeks of intensive, online MBA-style training before presenting their proposed business solutions to a panel of expert judges at the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator Finale, which is scheduled to occur in early 2021. At that time, select candidates will have the opportunity to receive financial grants to operationalize models in their specific communities.

The Accelerator’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.

Since 2017, the Accelerator program has trained 38 social entrepreneurs and organizations and provided $550,000 in financial grants. Business Accelerator alumni continue to support the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association by participating in local volunteer boards and serving as brand ambassadors at special events and in community meetings. Some Business Accelerator alumni have even adapted their business models in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

  • Corrie Health (Boston), the first cardiology Apple Carekit app, is part of a $3.5 million grant from the American Heart Association to the Center for Mobile Technologies to Achieve Equity in Cardiovascular Health at Johns Hopkins University. The Center is focused on identifying solutions for cardiovascular disease and COVID-19 and is using the app’s platform to empower patients from diverse backgrounds in guideline-based prevention.
  • Kitchenet (Chicago), fresh fruit delivery for corporate offices, directs one-third of its proceeds to fund free delivery of fresh food in food deserts. In response to COVID-19, they are maintaining a steady food supply for the most vulnerable communities, health workers and organizations as Kitchenet founder and CEO Trista Li details in this AHA Power Moment video.
  • TinyDocs (Chicago), health caretoons for kids, helps children explore the world of health and wellness through cartoons. The Tiny Docs crew are streaming a free, online video about mindfulness as well as a comic book to help children understand the coronavirus and ease any anxiety they may be feeling.  
  • The Link Market (St. Louis), a non-profit grocery store provides access to healthy, affordable food to hungry people, is now delivering free groceries to senior centers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The market also launched the Food for the Frontlines campaign to  provide essential healthcare workers with nutritious meals while giving local restaurants much-needed business.

To learn more, visit empoweredtoserve.org.

Additional Resources:

2019 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator Finale video


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, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries:

Susan Young: 214-706-1508; Susan.Young@Heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)