DALLAS, Sept. 16, 2020—The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, proudly honors the legacy of the late Bernard J. Tyson (1959-2019) — chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente and long-standing member of the American Heart Association’s board of directors — by financially investing more than $1.1 million in ten organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay and New York City areas through the organization’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund.

The goal of the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund is to reduce the social and economic barriers to health equity by investing in local social entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations within under-resourced communities to help scale sustainable solutions addressing documented social determinants of health – the environmental and social conditions people are born, grow, live, work and age which directly impact life expectancy.

Serving as a global health care leader for more than 35 years, Tyson dedicated his life to addressing the health inequities that plague the health care system in the United States and disproportionately impact under-resourced communities and populations. Tyson believed deeply in the mission of the American Heart Association as a means to advance his passion and directly address health equity.

“Bernard’s passion was addressing urgent community needs compounded by healthcare disparities across this country,” says Denise Bradley-Tyson, Bernard’s widow and founder and chairman of the executive committee of the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund. “With the ongoing social justice issues we face, which the COVID-19  pandemic has exacerbated – from gun violence, economic disparities, housing insecurity, food insecurity, mental health issues and unequal access to education and healthcare, particularly for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American people in our beloved country – I believe this work with the American Heart Association is divine intervention and I can hear Bernard’s voice in my head saying ‘We must act now—too many lives are at stake. Now is exactly the time for us to be doing this work’.”

Investees selected in San Francisco and Oakland address access to healthcare and COVID-19 testing, access to nutritious food and access to affordable housing. The Bay Area investees are:

Access to Healthcare and COVID-19 Testing

  • North East Medical Services is one of the largest federally funded community health centers in San Francisco targeting low-income Asian immigrant communities and is one of the only providing non-English support in most Asian languages. The group operates eight clinic sites and four drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites.
  • The NICOS Health Coalition is a public-private community partnership of more than 30 health and human services organizations with a collective mission to enhance the health and well-being of San Francisco’s Chinese community. 
  • ConsejoSano is a for-profit social enterprise that is a multicultural member engagement solution that partners with federally qualified health clinics and insurance health plans to drive improved quality and health outcomes for culturally diverse populations. The company works to provide a new level of linguistically and culturally tailored care.
  • Nurse-led Community-based Public Healthcare Initiative (NCPHI) is a minority-registered, nurse-led, community-based public health initiative that educates, empowers and provides resources to low income, or unhoused individuals and families living in Oakland. The NCPHI works by implementing an innovative outreach program that focuses on both primary and secondary disease prevention strategies aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and educating the community about known and suspected chronic diseases that can potentially amplify the severity of the virus, if contracted.

Access to Nutritious Food

  • Vouchers 4 Veggies, also known as EatSF in San Francisco, is an evidence-based produce prescription healthy eating program providing fruit and vegetable (F&V) vouchers to low-income households. Participants enroll via local clinics or community-based organizations and receive six months of F&V vouchers redeemable at grocery stores, farmer’s markets and corner stores, along with nutrition education.
  • Mandela Partners (MP) is a non-profit social enterprise that works in partnership with residents, family farmers and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth and build assets through local food enterprises in low-income communities. MP provides affordable sustainably grown produce sourced from 15 local and regional farmers through its in-house distribution hub.

Access to Affordable Housing

  • Spanish Speaking Unity Council of Alameda County, Inc. (Unity Council) is a non-profit Social Equity Development Corporation with a mission to promote social equity and improve quality of life by building vibrant communities where everyone can work, learn, and thrive. The Unity Council's Housing and Financial Access program provides multilingual emergency displacement prevention services, while building financial well-being for individuals living in Oakland's low-income communities of color hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Investees selected in New York City address access to housing, economic resiliency and mental health. The New York City investees are:

Access to Housing

  • New Destiny Housing Corporation is a non-profit housing organization with a mission to end the cycle of violence and homeless for low-income families and victims of domestic violence by quickly connecting families to safe and permanent affordable housing and financial management support services. The Tyson Impact Fund is investing in New Destiny to expand the group’s HousingLink model, which is an innovative and cost-effective solution that helps low-income and domestic violence survivors who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness secure permanent housing as quickly as possible, while offering wraparound services that foster long-term housing stability.

Economic Resiliency

  • The Knowledge House is a Bronx-based minority-led nonprofit social enterprise that empowers, educates, and mentors students from low-income communities with technical and soft skills to launch careers or ventures in tech. The Knowledge House will leverage the investment from the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund to continue their work to is transforming  the tech industry by creating a pipeline of young talented workers equipped with the in-demand skills needed to thrive in today’s economy in order to uplift their communities out of poverty.

Mental Health

  • MindRight Health is a minority-led tech start up that is advancing health equity by making mental health care accessible to and inclusive of communities of color and low-income families. MindRight meets people where they are through culturally responsive mental health coaching over text message to empower historically marginalized communities to heal from trauma.

The Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund received its initial anchor financial investments of $1M each from Lynne and Marc Benioff and the Elizabeth Elting Foundation Halo Fund (founded by Elizabeth Elting and Michael Burlant) to invest in social enterprises within under-resourced communities thereby shifting the funding paradigm to small, community, minority- and women-led businesses and non-profits.

“Bernard made a profound impact on our community by helping so many overcome barriers to health,” said Lynne Benioff. “We are honored to support his legacy and AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and look forward to seeing these community-based organizations grow their impact in solving for today’s challenges.”

“I am thrilled that the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund chose to amplify the work of these organizations – especially the three female-led organizations who are serving as forces for change in the New York City community.  We need to eradicate systemic barriers for those society has too often shut out,” said Liz Elting, founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. “It is such an honor to work with the American Heart Association to elevate organizations that will help drive solutions to overcome health disparities, empower women leaders from under-resourced communities, overcome the stigmas and challenges of mental health, and give all people their best opportunity for a long and healthy life.”

Additional donors to the AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund include Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation, Advent Capital Management, LLC, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Linda Gooden & Laird Lott, CommonSpirit Health and Jeff Bezos who provided funding to launch the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund in Seattle later this month. The Bay Area Council is also lending its support of the fund.

The first opportunity for organizations to apply for funding will open in Seattle in September 2020 and a second investment window will open in San Francisco and New York City by November. 

Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease because they lack necessities — healthy food, clean air and drinking water, quality education, employment and housing. These factors can contribute to how long and how well you live. The Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund provides the means to support the Association’s efforts to build clinic-to-community bridges through high-impact partners and deeply rooted community institutions.

To learn more or make an investment to the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund visit www.heart.org/BJTImpactFund.


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.

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Jennifer Pratt: 716-432-3307; Jennifer.Pratt@heart.org  

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