Surrounded by American Heart Association leaders, the top 2019 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator finalist, Russell Fearon, celebrates the receipt of a $50,000 grant to continue growing his company Sugex, an affordable, all-in-one wearable watch that makes diabetes management simple and accessible. copyright JCI Creatives

Financial grants available for social entrepreneurs working to transform communities, improve health

American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator applications now open

News Release, American Heart Association

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. 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.

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 June 30, 2020, interested entrepreneurs may apply to the grant program at

Candidates will be selected in early August and 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, currently scheduled to occur October 8, 2020 at the AT&T Forum in Washington, D.C. 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

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David M. Higgins II

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in Digital Marketing, eventually leading him back to his passion. David started The Southern Maryland Chronicle in December 2017 and has grown it to become the #1 news source in Southern Maryland.

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