Empowering Entrepreneurs for healthier communities: EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator Finale Event

We are thrilled to introduce the 2019 EmPOWERED to Serve National Business Accelerator grant recipients!  The October 17th event was hosted in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The top nine candidates presented their innovative concepts and ideas in a shark-tank style program at the event for a chance to receive grant money to implement their ideas. The entrepreneurs presented their business models to a panel of judges including Lawrence Griffith, Founder and CEO of Digital Factory Inc.; Aaron Levy, Startup Grind, Co-Director; Leyonna Barba, Executive Director, JP Morgan Chase and John Brothers, President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation and Program for Charitable Giving.

Russell Fearon a Syracuse University student from Baldwin, New York was awarded the $50,000 grant for Sugex. Sugex is an innovative wearable device that helps people manage their diabetes.  He also was awarded the “Fan Favorite” and received a $5,000 grant as well!

“The past two months have been life changing for me,” said Russell Fearon, co-founder of Sugex, a wearable device that helps people manage their diabetes. While the financial gift will propel my business to greater heights, the knowledge I have gained, mentors I have met and connections I have made, will pay dividends.”

Jeremy Goss from St. Louis, Missouri received $20,000 grant for The Link Market which connects food accessibility and transit in the community.

In a surprise at the end of the evening, Accelerator sponsor and judge Lawrence Griffith the Founder and CEO of Digital Factory, Inc, decided all of the presenters deserved an incentive. He generously awarded the remaining seven individuals with $1,500 each to put toward their community transforming ideas! They are:

  • Jacquelyn Carter, Not Reaching- Alexandria, VA
  • Paula Kranz, Wheelhouse Foundation- Charlotte, NC
  • Trista Li, Kitchenet- Chicago, IL
  • Brandi Pritchett- Johnson Ph.D., Future 4 Teens- Detroit, MI
  • John Robinson, Our Ability- Glenmont, NY
  • Andrew Suggs, Live Chair- Baltimore, MD
  • Brittany Young, B-360- Baltimore, MD

At the end of the evening, all nine organizations received funding to help improve health equity for all.

The Accelerator is an intense business leadership training and grant opportunity designed to help solve health disparities. The nine candidates went through an eight-week training program, funded by the American Heart Association, to gain real life knowledge in market positioning, brand development, fundraising and other functions to enhance their business models. Through the Business Accelerator, the American Heart Association challenges entrepreneurs, startups and non-profits to develop community-based solutions that improve long-term health by overcoming challenges in under-resourced communities.

Roland Martin emceed the event. While the judges deliberated, Roland also hosted a fireside chat with social entrepreneurs who have impacted their community. The panelists included Lili Gil Valletta, Co-Founder and CEO, CULTURINTEL & CIEN+; Pandwe Gibson, President and Founder, EcoTech Visions and Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner, Backstage Capital.

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association and approximately 300 professionals and organizations attended the successful event.

Congratulations to all the candidates and awardees! Their ideas are truly making an impact in their community to make a world of longer, healthier lives for all.

We’d also like to give a heartfelt thanks to our National EmPOWERED Sponsor, Lawrence Griffith, an entrepreneur and philanthropist; our National EmPOWERED Legacy Sponsor, The Mark and Brenda Moore and Family Foundation; and our National EmPOWERED Community Impact Sponsor, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Check out the social posts from the event on #EmPOWERChange and these social accounts: Facebook @EmPoweredToServe and @GreaterWashingtonAHA; and Twitter @AHA_EmPOWERED and @HeartofGWR.

To learn more about EmPOWERED to Serve program, visit empoweredtoserve.org.

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