Well City Challenge 2023 officially kicks off in Philly
The social impact competition is seeking innovative ideas from community members on how best to address health inequities in mental and heart health.
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On Saturday, Jan. 21, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia launched its 2023 Well City Challenge.
The Well City Challenge is a continuation of about a half-decade of work, and is an initiative born out of the Economy League’s impact labs program.
“We came up with the idea of a social innovation incubator accelerator,” said Jeff Hornstein, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.
Since the original iteration of the then-Full City Challenge, the initiative has grown with additional partnerships and funding. However, the goal remains the same.
“We’re looking for everyday innovators will solutions that they can submit that are community-based solutions that address heart and mental health in Philly,” said Tia Abdulhadi, program coordinator for Economy League’s impact labs.
This mission is critical due to some glaring statistics regarding health disparities in Philadelphia, which is the last-ranked county in the Commonwealth as it pertains to health outcomes.
Erica Dixon, Ph.D., project director for Accelerate Health Equity, said that community is a key component to health because by the time an individual reaches the health system, they have already been influenced by their neighborhood and surrounding.
This is where determinants of health comes in.
“Determinants of health have a huge impact on what happens to people out there in your neighborhoods, your communities, your homes, and your day-to-day lives,” said Dixon.
As it pertains specifically to heart and mental health, Black and Hispanic communities are disproportionately impacted.
According to statistics gathered by Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), those two groups are the most impacted by adult obesity and adult diabetes, and also have higher rates of adult hypertension.
In addition, Black adults were found to have reduced access to care, lower quality care and barriers to care that lead to lower utilization of behavioral health, and are also more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be uninsured, not have a primary care doctors, and live in a behavorial health professional shortage area.
Meanwhile, Latinos in Philadelphia are twice as likely to not have a primary care provider, and are 62% more likely to forgo needed care. About 16% of Latinos in Philly surveyed reported not having health insurance, with rates as high as 60% for those born outside of the United States.
Health conditions and social determinants of health are interconnected.
To this end, Dixon said, “It’s something that I think every individual has a responsibility to try to do something about for their communities.”
“If we’re able to take action to target negative social determinants of health — things like access to care, environmental outcomes and conditions — it can have a huge impact on health,” she continued.
The Well City Challenge aims to bring that “action” to the forefront in innovative ways.
This year’s Well City Challenge will accept proposals that address three main areas:
- Supporting Community & Social Connection with respect to mental and heart health.
- Breaking Barriers in Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care
- Creating Safe Spaces and Bringing Safety in our Streets, Homes & Communities.
Applications for the Well City Challenge will remain open until March 3, 2023.
After that will be the social venture incubator, where selected teams will participate in workshops with experts to help them sharpen their ideas and create a business plan.
The pitch competition will begin in May, where teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges composed of healthcare experts and community leaders.
From June to July 2023, the accelerator will see top teams be assigned mentors and coaches, as well as a significant investment of up to $50,000 to help them further refine their idea and prepare it for the pilot phase.
The pilot competition will start in July, and go through March 2024, when the grand prize winners will be connected with organizations and resources to test their ideas and prepare them for rapid growth.
To learn more information or apply, visit economyleague.org/wellcity.
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