LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2023 — Los Angeles County has one of the highest poverty rates in the state with nearly 14% of residents living in poverty. An individual’s personal circumstances can impact their health and well-being with living conditions explaining in part why some people are healthier than others.
To sustainably address and improve social determinants of health, the American Heart Association, devoted to a world of healthier lives for all, has distributed $850,000 from its Social Impact Funds to four social enterprises across Los Angeles in support of community-led solutions aimed to improve cardiovascular health.
This round of funding is part of a multi-year commitment to the Association’s Social Impact Funds from Rich Webster and the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. This additional support has established the Helen and Will Webster Foundation Fund to further advance the need for innovative social enterprises to build sustainable growth and impact.
“Access to healthy food and skill trainings are an important part of addressing long term solutions for community stability that lead to healthier environments,” said Rich Webster, co-president and board member for the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. “This most recent support of the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Funds in Los Angeles will accelerate the critical work of social enterprises to improve the health and well-being of those living in under-resourced communities.”
Additional contributions from Lynda and Stewart Resnick and The Wonderful Company to the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and the Don and Lorraine Freeberg Foundation helped support this round of funding for organizations in the Los Angeles area.
Social Impact Fund enterprises can be non-profit or for-profit social entrepreneurs working in the community. A governance committee comprised of American Heart Association volunteers and executives review all funding recommendations looking for three key things – demonstrated ability to drive change in under-resourced communities, a deep connection to the community itself and an ability to scale for maximum health and economic impact. The Fund specifically supports social enterprises addressing access to health and healthcare, economic resiliency and food security.
“Where you live should not dictate how long or how well a person lives – but it does,” said Sang-Mi Oh, region senior vice president, development and community health for the American Heart Association. “Through the American Heart Association’s commitment to address social determinants of health, communities across Los Angeles 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.”
Los Angeles area organizations receiving funding from the AHA’s Social Impact Funds are addressing economic resilience, food security and recidivism:
- 9 Dots is a nonprofit organization founded by a diverse group of engineers and educators committed to ensuring all K-6 students have the opportunity to engage in a transformative computer science education to prepare students for future employment.
- Bento is a patient engagement platform designed to reduce food insecurity, improve health outcomes of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. and support local restaurants and grocery stores. The platform is used by healthcare organizations, community-based non-profits and municipalities that serve low-income, historically marginalized at-risk populations.
- FreeWorld is a tech-enabled nonprofit that aims to end generational poverty and recidivism by accelerating economic mobility for returning citizens. FreeWorld works to recruit returning citizens and helps to quickly train and place them into high wage-earning careers.
- SUMA Wealth is a Latina-led wealth-building platform devoted to increasing prosperity, economic opportunity, and financial inclusion for young Latinos and their families. The platform uses culturally relevant ed-tech programs, virtual experiences, content, and financial tools to create financial wellness that encourages learning and behavioral change to empower the Latino community.
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.
- Multimedia is available on the right column of the release link.
- Spanish news release
- AHA’s 10 Commitments: advancing cardiovascular health for all including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality
- Social Impact Funds aim to improve health disparities in under-resourced communities
- AHA President’s Advisory: Structural racism causes poor health, premature death from heart disease and stroke
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.
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