Learn More about the Business Accelerator

The Accelerator works with social entrepreneurs and organizations improving social determinants of health in their community, which are health risk factors, especially for underserved populations. Social determinants include, but are not limited to, race bias, income, education, stress, pollution, housing availability, transportation and access to healthy foods.

Accelerator candidates striving to improve these factors can participate in MBA-style business training to help further their plan. They’ll also have an opportunity to receive funding and to present their ideas to a panel of influential judges at the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator finale to be held in the winter of 2021.


New for all 2020 participants, the YWCA Small Business Development Center (SBDC)will offer businesses training to all applicants of the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator.

The 2020 Application Period has now closed.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator is looking for social entrepreneurs and organizations driving community change through health justice. This program is offered at no cost.

All applicants and businesses must be located in the United States.

Organizations/people that can apply:

  • Social entrepreneurs
  • Tech entrepreneurs 
  • Non-profits* 
  • Community organizations
  • Startups that have been in business five years or less*

*Established businesses/organizations should pick one focus/current project for the application.

What are the minimum requirements?

The Accelerator is virtual and includes video conferences.

Participants must have:

  • Consistent, reliable internet access
  • A video camera and headphones.

How long does the Accelerator take?

The 2020 program is an eight-week program. Please allow at least eight to 10 hours a week for individual work sessions and virtual group activities.

What is the best way to get my idea funded? 

 We’re glad you asked! Follow the tips below to present your idea in the best way possible:

Step One — Identify problems What are the health-related problems you see, and do you or your business have a solution?

Consider one of these health equity gaps:

  • Affordable housing 
  • Air pollution
  • Childhood obesity
  • Chronic disease
  • Clean water
  •  Health care
  • Health insurance
  • Hunger
  • Internet access
  • Access to healthy food
  • Obesity 
  • Transportation
  • Safety
  • Smoking

Step Two — Build the plan

The Accelerator focuses on action and results.

You will be expected to start implementing your idea during the Accelerator, so we suggest you create the framework now. Wherever you are in the process, our team will work with you to put your idea into action in the community during the program.

Step Three — Apply!

The application process will help you stand out and let us get to know you. You’ll have to answer questions about yourself and your company that focus on your project, the impact it will have and how you will measure your success.

What can I expect to gain?

Finalists receive an eight-week training course to refine their business model. We’ll lend our expertise on topics including digital marketing, customer discovery, increasing health impact, brand experience and brand storytelling. Finalists can access our network to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, health and business leaders, the American Heart Association’s national and local network, and PR/communications opportunities.

What do you expect from the finalists?

The training period is intense, time-consuming — and invaluable. There are numerous deliverables and a tight timeline leading up to the finale event. We ask finalists to push themselves and their companies to the next level by committing wholeheartedly to the program.

What about confidentiality and intellectual property?

We cannot guarantee confidentiality. But during the training, finalists will not be asked to share information about their project with other candidates Likewise, we will not share information about projects with other teams during training. If a team wants to keep elements of its concept or idea confidential, that information should not be included during the presentation at the finale event There is no way for the American Heart Association to effectively prohibit other candidates, audience members or judges who see or hear a pitch from sharing the concept, idea and/or materials with others. By participating in the EmPOWERED To Serve Business Accelerator, candidates agree that the American Heart Association, EmPOWERED to Serve and all related parties assume no liability, and shall have no liability or obligation whatsoever for disclosures of information provided by a candidate as part of a submission or otherwise during the course of the Accelerator or finale event Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) between a finalist and the judges and/or audience members will not be required or allowed. How can I learn more about the EmPOWERED To Serve Business Accelerator?

If you have general questions, email:



Impact and Need

"I would have to say my experience was simply great and impactful. I enjoyed every step of the process from intake to learning about the importance and skillset of storytelling. Along with being nominated as a candidate and meeting some amazing people from around the country that are all doing awesome things in their communities, along with receiving the third-place grant and being able to use those funds to help my organization move forward."

2017 Urban Business Storytelling Competition Grantee Cecil Wilson, Goffers Inc

Statement of Relationship

YWCA SBDC is collaborative partner of the American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED to Serve.

Statement of Relationship