The American Heart Association Offers Financial Competitive Awards For Urban Community Health Issues
By:     -   October 17, 2017   -   Health & Wellness   -   Comments are closed   -   633 Views

This post has been sponsored by the American Heart Association.

“Individual behaviors aren’t the only factors that affect health. Community environments also play a determining role in health outcomes. In fact, people living just five miles apart can have a difference in life expectancy of more than 20 years.” – American Heart Association (AHA)

On October 17th – 18th, the American Heart Association (AHA) kicks off its 2-day summit at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The AHA is the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Thought leaders and innovators across diverse communities in public health convened to address the following goals:

  • Community transformation and the root causes that impact social determinants of health.
  • Why and how your zip code may increase your risk of stroke, high blood pressure and other types of heart disease.
  • Engaging unconventional partners to drive creative solutions for collaborative health impact.

As part of the overall experience, the EmPOWERED To Serve™ urban business storytelling competition was incorporated on the 17th, where 10 finalists (out of 128 applicants) from various health start-up companies, teams, individuals and non-profits have the opportunity to pitch fresh, innovative and practical solutions that can be implemented in communities to remove some of the challenges in promoting well-being. The 3 final winners will receive financial awards for the purpose of activating the ideas and solutions ranging from $10,000 to $30,000.

“As an Association, we know that to affect meaningful change in the communities we serve, we must tap into and value their knowledge and experiences. We know that innovation is fueled by diversity and inclusion. We are looking to learn from and collaborate with organizations with innovative and creative solutions to address the social determinants of health. This is an important strategy for developing solutions to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity, regardless of circumstances, to be healthy and well.” – Tanya M. Odom, Ed.M., Global Diversity and Inclusion, education consultant, and chair of the American Heart Association’s Diversity Leadership Committee


Keith Churchwell, M.D., appointed vice president and executive director of Yale New Haven Hospital’s Cardiovascular Services and chair, American Heart Association Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health Task Force 

Calvin Butler, CEO, Baltimore Gas & Electric

Nearly half of all non-Hispanic black adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, 47.7 percent of females and 46.0 percent of males. Hispanics (and African-Americans) with high blood pressure are less likely than Caucasians to get their condition under control, according to January 2017 research published in the Association’s Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes journal.

The selection process of the three winners will combine a judging panel with public voting via a Facebook live stream event.

Meet the Finalists

Maria Rose Belding

MEANS Database | Philadelphia, PA:

MEANS Database notifies food banks and pantries of food donations in their neighborhood. Food Connect delivers surplus food from retailers to community organizations serving the hungry.


Sharon Butler

Eat Away Hunger | Washington, DC:

The Eat Away Hunger backpack food program provides nonperishable healthy food to children in need to take home when school meal programs are unavailable, mainly during the Winter and Spring breaks and three-day weekends.

Nisha Sarveswaran

Ambience Data | Detroit, MI:

Ambience Data has created small, inexpensive hardware devices that monitor indoor air pollution. They empower families to take control of their health by knowing what family members are breathing from day to day.


Nyasha Nyamapfene

Gospel Run | Chicago, IL:

Gospel Run is a public health organization created to inspire health, transformation and expanded possibilities in the individuals, families and communities we serve.


Sequoia Ross

Tricycle Urban Agriculture | Richmond, VA:

An innovative approach to learning the business and practice of Urban Agriculture

  • Earn a Certificate in Urban Agriculture – recognized by USDA/NRCS
  • Gain experiences in sustainable agriculture skills and practices on urban farm sites
  • Gain community engagement and food systems experience through Tricycle’s Mission Programs
  • Network with local farmers, food system leaders, & subject matter experts
  • Attend classroom instruction, workshops, renowned speakers
  • Benefit from business planning and development
  • Full Scholarships provided for 2017 class


Kenny Fennell

GoWithCaravan | Detroit, MI:

Caravan is a web-based platform that offers hourly rentals for five to fifteen-person passenger vehicles sourced from nearby owners. Caravan’s vision is to ensure lower-income urban residents can access education, employment, and healthy foods in their neighborhoods and the region beyond through shared-use mobility services.


Cecil Wilson

GoffersGotIt | Chicago, IL:

The GoffersGotIt motto is “Getting Things Done on the Go!” Goffers provides on-demand mobile task assistance. Services include, but are not limited to, grocery shopping, laundry delivery and prescription refills.


Rickey Wynn

See What I See: Ft. Worth, TX:

See What I See (SWIS) is an easy to use product designed to allow a sick or shut-in person to see through the eyes of their caregiver in real time and communicate with them at the same time. The See What I See device enhances and improves the quality of people’s lives, social relationships and living effectiveness through the use and establishment of surrogate social relationships.

Diop Adisa | Indianapolis, IN:

Our model supports young entrepreneurs who want to be the next generation of urban farmers by bringing healthy affordable food into this particular community while strengthening relationships and supporting urban farmers. Our big picture is to build a model that can be replicated by similar communities across the country and world.

Daniel Brillman

Unite Us:

Unite Us is a veteran-owned technology company that builds coordinated care networks of health and human service providers that support individuals by addressing all social determinants of health. The Unite Us platform displaces legacy resource directories and single direction referrals by digitally inter-connecting health and community providers together to meet every individual’s holistic needs. This transformative approach enables providers to seamlessly work together, track clients through their total health journey, and report tangible outcomes across the full range of services in a cohesive and collaborative ecosystem.


Judging Panel

  • Lawrence Griffith, founder and CEO, Digital Factory, Inc.
  • Vanessa Mason, co-founder and managing director of P2Health Ventures
  • Ryan Mundy, chief strategist, Techlete Ventures; CEO of 12AM Holdings 

For information on the EmPOWERED To Serve movement and the EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Business Storytelling Competition, visit

WANT TO SEE WHO THE WINNERS ARE? Check back soon at!