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American Heart Association to offer financial awards for improving health outcomes

The AHA is looking for innovative business solutions for urban community health issues through competition

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans. Stroke is also a leading cause of death, and African-Americans are more at risk for both.

These discouraging statistics regarding the number of deaths in the black community have been floating around for years, but there are organizations willing to aid in combating these issues for black people, and the American Heart Association wants to help make sure they are helping them help their communities.

The association is searching for startup companies, teams, individuals and nonprofit organizations to compete in their EmPOWERED To Serve urban business storytelling competition. The goal of the competition is to identify innovative ways to find solutions to combat stroke and heart disease in all communities plagued with those issues. It is an attempt to help influence and drive community change. The competition is a part of the AHA’s EmPOWERED To Serve movement, which improves the health and well-being of multicultural communities.

According to the association, the plan is to work within communities and join with partners to address key factors that affect health such as economic stability, education, societal influences, neighborhoods and health care.

The winning submissions will receive financial awards to go into communities to improve health and well-being. The top 10 entries will have the opportunity to display and present their business models at the association’s EmPOWERED To Serve Summit on Oct. 17 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. A panel of judges will choose the top three entries. The first-place prize is $30,000, second place is $20,000 and third place is $10,000.

“As an association, we know that to affect meaningful change in the communities we serve, we must tap into and value their knowledge and experiences,” Tanya M. Odom, chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s diversity leadership committee, said in a press release. “We know that innovation is fueled by diversity and inclusion. We are looking to learn from and collaborate with organizations with innovative and creative solutions to address the social determinants of health. This is an important strategy for developing solutions to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity, regardless of circumstances, to be healthy and well.”

Interested applicants can submit their business models by Sept. 5 through the competition’s website. According to the press release, the entry must address a social factor that affects a community’s ability to achieve equitable health and well-being. To be considered for the competition, business models must target the needs of a specific community listed on the competition website, or entrants may identify a different community.

The three winners will also have the opportunity to partner with a local American Heart Association office, based on the community focus of their plans, for assistance in implementing their concept.

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.