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$400K Grant Assists Community-Based Orgs in Addressing Social Determinants

The American Heart Association Social Impact Fund offers investments to community-based organizations to reduce social determinants of health barriers in under-resourced areas.

organizations to reduce social determinants of health barriers in under-resourced areas.

The American Heart Association, through its Social Impact Fund, will invest $400,000 in two Utah community-based organizations to combat health barriers related to social determinants in under-resourced communities.

AHA said that while Utah has made significant commitments to advance health equity, the state continues to see health disparities among racial and ethnic groups, which contribute to adverse health outcomes, impacting overall well-being, lifespan, and social and economic mobility.

“Where you live should not dictate how long you live,” Lavinia Sasaki, executive director for the American Heart Association in Utah, said in the press release. “Through the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Fund, local social enterprises will be able to make a meaningful, measurable impact on the health of Utahns.”

These are the first funding announcements to support Utah-based solutions; the recipients are Salt Lake City-based peer-run organization Latino Behavioral Health Services and Provo-based digital reading platform Literal.

Latino Behavioral Health Services aims to decrease racial health disparities in mental healthcare access for Hispanics/Latinos. The peer-run organization offers education, empowerment, and access to mental health resources and services with cultural, socio-economic, and linguistic responsiveness. With the recently allocated funding, the organization aims to expand access to patients in more rural areas throughout Wasatch and Grand Counties.

Literal aims to improve English Language Arts (ELA) instruction for digitally based learners throughout school districts by encouraging reading engagement, student achievement, and self-directed learning for adolescents.

Evidence shows that education has a significant impact on overall health and well-being. Limited literacy skills are associated with lower educational attainment and poorer health. In 2021, researchers published data in PNAS that folks with higher educational attainment tend to live longer.

“By supporting organizations who uniquely understand the communities they serve, we can work in tandem to ensure health equity for Utahns,” said Don Stirling, executive director of the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation, which helps finance the Social Impact Fund. “The Social Impact Fund provides critical funding for early-stage businesses who often face substantial financial barriers to success and growth. This funding allows these entrepreneurs to scale their businesses quickly to have a positive impact within our communities.”

In 2018, the American Heart Association created Social Impact Funds to aid community-based solutions that address social and economic barriers to health equity. The strategy aligns with the Association’s aim to tackle nonmedical factors that lead to heart disease and shorter, less healthy lives. The funds support sustainable, evidence-based solutions led by local nonprofits and small businesses across diverse markets and issues.

Alongside the Social Impact Fund, the American Heart Association has funded other opportunities to improve the impact of SDOH.

In 2022, the American Heart Association awarded five research teams $2 million to support medical research around SDOH and women’s hypertension in under-resourced populations

The research teams leading new studies focused on the impact of SDOH in underserved women with hypertension will receive $225,000 per year for two years. Grant recipients will also receive a $50,000 Amazon Web Services (AWS) credit each year on the AHA's Precision Medicine Platform.

The funded research will incorporate data into the online participant-centric data registry created by the AHA, Research Goes Red. As of now, more than 19,000 women have joined Research Goes Red, which links women in the United States to scientists and clinicians and engages more women in research studies, AHA mentioned.

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