Greater Washington D.C. Community Organizations Receive Funding to Shift Inequitable Health Paradigm

The American Heart Association (AHA), the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, announced four greater Washington region-based organizations will receive $800,000 in funding from the Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund to help remove the social and economic impediments to health equity.

Contributions from John R. Houston III (posthumous), The Executive Leadership Council, Linda Gooden & Laird Lott, and JPMorgan Chase funded the opportunity for organizations in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area to sustainably address the social determinants of health like food insecurity, mental health, early childhood development and economic stability.

Where you live shouldn’t determine how well or how long you live, but it does. About 80 percent of a person’s health is determined by factors other than access and quality of clinical care. AHA through its Bernard J. Tyson Social Impact Fund, invests in local entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations that are breaking down the social and economic barriers to healthy lives.

“Investing in organizations and social entrepreneurs who are making a lasting impact in communities across the greater Washington D.C. region is only possible because of our generous and committed donors,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “We continue to break down barriers to health by providing essential solutions in under-invested communities through the expanded footprint of the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund.”

The investees are social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations led by communities of color that operate in under-invested neighborhoods. They are:

  • Infinite Focus Schools (IFS) is a digital self-regulation and emotional health platform that helps historically excluded or under-resourced youth manage emotions and toxic stress. IFS is delivered through a web-based platform that meets youth where they are, through technology, and empowers them with tools that they can carry around in their pockets. The platform uses gamification and engaging video content that teaches youth about emotional functions and empowers them to build skills to manage toxic stress.
  • Smart from the Start (Smart) is a trauma-informed, multi-generational family support and community engagement organization with a mission to promote the healthy development of young children and families living in the most under-resourced communities. Smart’s evidence-based, culturally reflective approach empowers low-income families and communities with the resources, tools and support to break cycles of generational poverty, chronic stress and school underachievement.
  • Urban Ed is a nonprofit tech upskilling and workforce development group creating entry points into sustainable careers in tech for un/underemployed residents of Wards 7 and 8 through information technology job training and placement. Urban Ed trains participants in 26 global IT certifications and mobilizes them along six different career pathways with a focus on specific in-demand job functions that employers need to fill today.
  • 4P Foods (4P) is a mission-driven food hub creating fair market opportunities for small and midsized farmers, and farmers of color while expanding equitable access to fresh, local nutritious food throughout the DC metro area. 4P sells both direct-to-consumer through a digital grocery platform, as well as wholesale to institutions and community-based organizations serving food insecure populations, public schools, grocers and health systems.

“The AHA has created social impact funds that reimagine the approach to community transformation, to combat key social determinants of health,” concluded Brown.  “Every person deserves the opportunity for a full, healthy life. As champions for health equity, by 2024, the American Heart Association is committed to advancing cardiovascular health for all, including identifying and removing barriers to health care access and quality.”

Since its launch in June 2020, the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has supported 50 social entrepreneurs and nonprofits in New York, Michigan, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, the greater Washington D.C. region and Seattle. The fund honors the late Bernard J. Tyson, long-time American Heart Association volunteer and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO. Tyson worked tirelessly to overcome structural and systemic barriers to support social justice and equitable health for all.

To learn more about the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and future funding opportunities, visit heart.org/ bernard-j-tyson-fund.