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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 03 June 2021

The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is calling on women entrepreneurs in Oregon and SW Washington to apply for EmPOWERED To Serve Business Accelerator™ financial grants for business solutions to address the social determinants of health.

“Oregon and SW Washington are some of the most outdoorsy and active areas in the country, yet this doesn’t correlate to our health outcomes,” said Michelle Weisenbach, Board President, American Heart Association, Oregon & SW Washington and Market President, KeyBank. “Systematic challenges such as lack of access to quality, affordable health care and structural racism, plus social determinants of health – such as healthy food, quality education, income, mobility and housing – all contribute to a person’s ability to live their healthiest life.

"We are excited to unite and empower local women entrepreneurs who are addressing these critical issues.”

According to World Health Organization data, people living in underserved communities have a higher risk of developing heart disease. For decades, the mortality rate due to cardiovascular disease and stroke has been higher among Black Americans than all other ethnicities. Furthermore, Hispanics and Black Americans are more likely to live with diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites.

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™ – Oregon and SW Washington is made possible by support from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation.

“This program will empower female entrepreneurs and ultimately allow innovative ideas into under-resourced communities,” said Sally Bany, Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation co-founder. "We are excited to empower women in presenting, developing and proposing their health and wellness business plans during this competition.”

How to apply

Applicants must be women over 18 years of age and provide proposed business solutions to specifically address and improve challenges presented by health inequities in communities in the Oregon and SW Washington area. Now through July 16, 2021, interested entrepreneurs, innovators and women-led teams may apply to the grant program at http://www.empoweredtoserve.org/oregon.

“The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™ – Oregon and SW Washington focuses on women specifically as they are too often an underfunded group by venture capitalists, and we know women-led solutions are a critical need in creating health equity,” said Leslie McCall, Executive Director, American Heart Association, Oregon & SW Washington. “We’re looking for a diverse pool of applicants whose business solutions address a social factor that impacts our communities’ ability to achieve health equity and well-being.”

Finalists will be selected on August 6 and will begin four weeks of intensive, online MBA-style training before presenting their proposed business solutions on September 30. At that time, finalists will present their business concepts to a panel of judges consisting of local community innovators, entrepreneurs, health experts and business leaders.

The first-place finalist will receive a $75,000 grant; second place will be awarded $30,000; and a “fan favorite” will be voted on by the public and receive $15,000. All of these grants will help operationalize models in their communities. Finally, the first-place grant finalist will advance to the American Heart Association’s National Business Accelerator for a chance to receive additional funding, continue to refine their business story and expand their network of support.

About the program

Since 2017, the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™ program has trained 93 social entrepreneurs and 48 organizations and provided $600,000 in financial grants across the country. The Accelerator’s core curriculum offers formal instruction on design thinking, customer discovery, market positioning, brand development, fundraising and other essential business functions to help entrepreneurs enhance their business models and demonstrate the viability of projects.

To learn more, visit https://www.empoweredtoserve.org/en/capital-access-grant-funding/business-accelerator-program/oregon-and-southwest-washington.

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