The American Heart Association hosts inaugural summit on social determinants of health; addresses barriers and solutions to healthy living and wellbeing in urban communities

EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Business Storytelling Competition identifies viable solutions and names three winners to implement concepts in local communities

DALLAS, October 19, 2017 — The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, hosted its inaugural EmPOWERED To Serve™ Summit in Washington, D.C. on October 17 and 18. As part of the Association’s EmPOWERED To Serve movement, which was developed to build a sustainable culture of health in diverse communities across America, leading expertsand thought-leaders convened to discuss and address:

  • 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.

According to the Association, individual behaviors aren’t the only factors that affect health. Community environments play a determining role in health outcomes. People living just five miles apart can have a difference in life expectancy of more than 20 years. That’s why the Association will collaborate with a variety of organizations to create solutions to our  communities’ most complex social issues through collective impact.

Additionally, as a part of the summit, 10 finalists in the American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Business Storytelling Competition, which sought innovative solutions to remove barriers to health and wellbeing, presented innovative, urban business solutions to a judging panel. Three winners were selected to receive financial awards ranging from $10,000 to $30,000:

  • First Place, $30,000: Nyasha Nyamapfene of Gospel Run (Chicago) partners with the faith community to create a culture of health via organized walks and runs.
  • Second Place, $20,000: Maria Rose Belding of MEANS Database (Philadelphia) uses technology to move excess food to communities in need.


  • Third Place, $10,000: Cecil Wilson of GoffersGotIt (Chicago), which is an on-demand delivery service thatconnects people to services and access to products and income opportunities.

The competition winners will now have an opportunity to implement their business solution in their selected community, partnering with local American Heart Association offices for assistance.

“The EmPOWERED To Serve Summit and Urban Business Storytelling Competition are opportunities for companies, organizations and individuals to help influence and drive community change,” said Rhonda Ford Chatmon, American Heart Association vice president of Health Initiatives, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, which hosted the two-day event. “This event was designed to bring people together to identify solutions. When we focus and each bring our own talents and ideas to the table, we can truly make a difference. We assembled leaders this week tostrengthen their alliance with the AHA, transferring what we discussed into meaningful action for the communities we are serving. Putting our thoughts and words into practice will ultimately deliver a sustainable culture of health and wellbeing.”

For additional information about EmPOWERED To Serve and to learn more about the competition winners, visit


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at

For Media Inquiries: (214) 706-1173

Contact: Stephanie M. Brown; O: (214) 706-1857; C: 214-533-8483;;

For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and


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