Candidates pitch for grants to improve their communities

Nine candidates will compete for grants to support their ideas to combat health inequities in under-resourced communities.

Judges from marketing, media and investment will hear the candidates’ solutions at the American Heart Association’s National EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator Finale on Oct. 17. The event will be held  6:30 to 9 p.m. EST at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and will be shared on social media.
The first-place grant recipient will get a $50,000 grant, and the second, $20,000. The public will also have a chance to vote once a day Oct. 1-17. The “fan favorite,” who will be announced with the other grantees, will receive a $5,000 grant.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator is investing in social entrepreneurs and businesses with innovative ways to improve access to care, education, transportation, food and other social determinants of health, factors that affect people’s chances to be healthy.
The AHA received 140 applications before narrowing the pool to nine candidates who are currently participating in an eight-week, MBA-style training to help them learn how to market their ideas. They are:

B-360 Baltimore
, Brittany Young, Baltimore, Maryland
The STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) education program uses the dirt bike culture to end the cycle of poverty, disrupt the prison pipeline and build bridges in communities. Riders teach elementary and middle school students to build, code, design and 3D print model-size bikes to increase STEM awareness and improve math scores and literacy.

Future 4 Teens (F4T), Brandi Pritchett-Johnson, Ph.D., Detroit, Michigan
The non-profit organization integrates educational, social and mental health services to improve mental health.

KitcheNet, Trista Li, Chicago, Illinois
The dual-business model (for profit and non-profit) uses part of the delivery surcharge from businesses with high-quality, healthy snacks to support inner city produce distribution.

Live Chair, Andrew Suggs, Washington, D.C.
The scheduling app helps barbers provide African American clients with recommended health screenings, preventive care, blood pressure monitoring and a health questionnaire that connects them to clinical partners for further care.

Not Reaching!, Jacquelyn Carter, Alexandria, Virginia
The easy-to-access vehicle identification pouch clips to the driver side air vent to hold a driver’s license and registration and insurance cards. This helps ensure safe traffic stops and prevent miscommunication between officers and drivers with physical or other challenges.

Our Ability, John Robinson, Glenmont, New York
Artificial intelligence and chatbot technology collaborates with employers to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Sugex, Russell Fearon, New York, New York
Synthesizing affordable alternatives, the wearable device helps people manage their diabetes.

The Link Market, Jeremy Goss, St. Louis, Missouri
Addresses food insecurity and transportation barriers by providing affordable groceries at MetroLink stations in St. Louis.

The Wheelhouse Foundation, Paula Kranz, Charlotte, North Carolina
Wheelhouse Foundation has developed a science-based approach to address an existing gap in CPR training to help trainees overcome cultural taboos. It focuses on improving bystander intervention, especially for women who receive help 10-15% less often than men.

 Honorable Mentions

  • Endeleo, Melvin Thompson 
  • SizeMe, Yolanda Hancock
  • Fish N Loaves, Austin Avery
  • Making Homes Safe, Jacqueline Gottlieb 
  • Varanda, Stephanie Moore
  • Cat Scan, Cat Anderson
  • Elliot, Gary Montague
  • Urban Tree Connection: Community-Led Food, Noelle Warford
  • Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Alba Valasquez

In its third year, the Accelerator has trained almost 30 entrepreneurs and funded $410,000 in grants.