DALLAS, March 17, 2022 –To sustainably address the social and economic impediments to health equity, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, today announced four Los Angeles-based organizations and social enterprises focused on improving mental health, food insecurity and economic equity will receive $465,000 in grant and convertible equity funding from the Association’s Social Impact Fund.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, approximately 80% of a person’s health is determined by factors other than access and quality of clinical care. These factors include race, social-economic status and geographical location. Across Los Angeles communities are working to address the social determinants of health through a variety of channels.

“Investing in community led solutions to help overcome health disparities, mental health challenges and other social influencers of health means all people have a better opportunity to live long, healthy lives,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association Chief Executive Officer.

Through its Social Impact Fund, the Association supports local entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations that are breaking down the social and economic barriers to healthy lives.

One of those barriers is mass incarceration. The effects of mass incarceration on health lasts far beyond the period of imprisonment. It impacts social, educational and economic opportunities; increases the prevalence of chronic health conditions and decreases life expectancy. In Los Angeles, the incarceration rate for African Americans is 13 times more than that of white people, a contributing factor is structural racism. The Association’s grantee, The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program creates pathways for individuals reentering society to find permanent employment in the field of wildland firefighting including fire suppression, fuel reduction and fire prevention.

"In order to ensure every person has the same opportunity for a full, healthy life, the barriers that worsen the economic, social, and health inequities of vulnerable communities must be dismantled,” stated Brown.

According to Mental Health America, Black people experience direct traumatic stressors (including being heavily policed or being the victims of physical and verbal attacks), indirect stressors (such as the effects of viewing the video of the killing of George Floyd), and transmitted stressors (from traumatic stress passed from one generation to the next). Despite these challenges, however, Black people are far less likely to seek care. Butterflly Health, a Social Impact Fund funding recipient, is a trauma-informed, mental health app developed by people of color intentionally designed to breakdown stigma and increase access for people of color and other populations who have been historically excluded from existing mental health solutions. 

Access to healthy food and jobs skill training are important ways to address long term solutions to food insecurity and economic stability. The Association’s final two Los Angeles-based organizations receiving funding are: tackling these issues head on:

  • Prosperity Market is a Black-owned mobile market and food truck featuring Black farmers, food producers and chefs. Prosperity Market supports existing Black businesses through its unique marketing approach coupled with a traditional farmers market model. 
  • The Knowledge House is a 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.

Contributions from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation, Don and Lorraine Freeberg Foundation, Lynda and Stewart Resnick and The Wonderful Company helped to fund this opportunity for organizations in the Los Angeles area.

“Because of the generous support of committed donors, the American Heart Association is investing in organizations and social entrepreneurs working to create healthy lives and dismantle inequities in communities of color and other historically-excluded populations,” concluded Brown. 

The Social Impact Fund, seeded by generous philanthropists, supports local organizations, small businesses or individuals with grants, loans or other funding. The fund is nimble and reactive. It meets entrepreneurs in the communities where they are and takes a bottom-up approach to finding solutions. To learn more about the Social Impact Fund, visit: https://www.heart.org/en/get-involved/ways-to-give/social-impact-fund/how-we-help.

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: Main number - 214-706-1173

Elizabeth Nickerson, Elizabeth.Nickerson@heart.org

For media requests in California, please contact Kristine.kelly@heart.org.

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

heart.org and stroke.org