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Buildings stand in the neighborhood where the West Kensington Ministry operates a food pantry supported by the non-profit Small Things on March 24, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Buildings stand in the neighborhood where the West Kensington Ministry operates a food pantry supported by the non-profit Small Things on March 24, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Funding to help social entrepreneurs break down Philly’s health barriers

The American Heart Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund recently announced this year’s investment efforts to help find sustainable solutions to address…

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Four North Philadelphia organizations will be receiving a total of $430,000 thanks to the American Heart Association (AHA), the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all.

The funding is thanks to a $1 million donation by the Andréa W. and Kenneth C. Frazier Family Foundation towards the AHA’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, which aims to support local nonprofits and social entrepreneurs working to improve access to healthcare, food and housing, and economic development. 

“Health inequity is one of society’s most daunting challenges, and we are pleased to support the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund as it delivers on its mission to foster health equity and economic empowerment,” said Andréa and Ken Frazier, in a press release.

The first set of fund recipients are organizations led by people of color and/or are woman-led and operate in underserved neighborhoods.

The first organization is Maternity Care Coalition (MCC), a nonprofit that improves the health and well-being of pregnant women, parenting families and young children in neighborhoods affected by poverty and maternal and infant morbidity/mortality.

The funding will help increase incomes and create meaningful career opportunities for up to 40 unemployed or underemployed North Philadelphians and expand access to culturally-connected perinatal care in North Philadelphia, contributing to improved maternal health outcomes. 

The second organization is Oshun Family Center, a Black woman-led mental health organization that provides racially concordant care to people struggling to cope with life transitions.

The funds will help support the expansion of mental health services to more than 120 Black Philadelphians, with the potential to reduce the symptoms contributing to Black maternal mortality.

According to a report from the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRC), Black women in Philadelphia made up 43% of births between 2013 to 2018, but 58% of pregnancy-associated deaths during the same time period. 

The third organization is Ride Health,  an immigrant-founded, for-profit transportation platform that contracts directly with health systems, health plans and healthcare organizations to provide a variety of non-emergency transportation services to get patients to and from appointments.

The funding will help support the expansion of Ride Health’s non-emergency transportation services to thousands of high-risk, low-income patients in North Philadelphia. 

The fourth organization is Viora Health, an immigrant and woman-led, Philadelphia-based health tech start-up, that engages under-resourced populations to improve their health management at home by mitigating social determinants of health. It does so through a patient-facing mobile/text-based solution that creates a personalized program and support resulting in an improved health experience for patients and cost reduction for health plans, health systems and employers.

“Through their generous support, the Fraziers have committed to helping ensure people in North Philadelphia have access to the healthcare they need – from mental health and maternal care to providing transportation to doctors’ appointments,” said Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the American Heart Association, in a press release. 

According to the County Health Rankings, only 20% of a person’s overall health is determined by clinical medical care, while the rest is determined by social and economic factors, as well as physical environment. 

In addition, approximately 50 million people in the United States are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease because they lack the most basic needs, such as healthy food, clean air and drinking water, quality education, employment and housing.

The Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has aimed to address those same basic needs in Philadelphia, and across the nation.  

Since it was launched in June 2020, the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has supported 30 social entrepreneurs and nonprofits, from New York, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle.

The name honors the late Bernard J. Tyson, long-time American Heart Association volunteer and former Permanente CEO, who worked tirelessly to overcome structural and systemic barriers to support social justice and equitable health for all.

Other local organizations and social entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to submit their expressions of interest for next year’s funding in early February 2022. 

To learn more about the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, click here

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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