Transforming Communities

Charles Daniels Jr. and Samantha Fils-Daniels, married co-founders of Fathers’ Uplift. The organization, which benefitted from the AHA’s Social Impact Fund, works to assist fathers in overcoming barriers that prevent them from remaining engaged in their children’s lives.

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” —Margaret J. Wheatley

People across the nation are banding together to address societal problems and motivating others to take action. The 2020 EmPOWERED to Serve Scholars are a shining example. These 10 enterprising college students, who each received $10,000 scholarships, are working to address health disparities in their communities through advocacy, education and outreach.

Promoting health equity and empowering communities were emphasized during the third annual EmPOWERED Voices Experience on Martha’s Vineyard. Highlights included a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Clyde Yancy, about the AHA’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholars program, and efforts to increase diversity in science and medicine.

Andrew Suggs, Live Chair owner and 2019 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator finalist
Andrew Suggs, Live Chair owner and 2019
EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator finalist

Entrepreneurs are getting a boost, thanks to the AHA’s Business Accelerator program, which guides candidates through a rigorous eight-week curriculum that focuses on strengthening business models and creating sustainable, scalable solutions.

In addition, the AHA has invested $3 million in 19 organizations that are improving the health of their communities, thanks to the Social Impact Fund. The investment inspired an additional $13.8 million from other investors.


A government pilot that aims to increase food access for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP is expanding rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHA supports the policy, which permits participants to buy groceries online at certain retailers.

Over 40 communities improved access to healthy nutrition through strategies aligned to local needs. This included ensuring acceptance of SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer cards at mobile or farmers’ markets, expanding access to child nutrition programs after school and at non-school sites, and improving the nutrition standards at community sites such as faith-based institutions and work environments.

The AHA’s first Foodscape Innovation Awards honored companies that are making positive changes in the food system. The WICShopper mobile app, which helps shoppers make healthy choices at the grocery store, received top honors.

Facebook approached the American Heart Association for guidance, content and resources to better inform users on ways to manage blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Along with other public health organizations, we collaborated on a preventive health tool for U.S. Facebook users.

Women’s health remains at the forefront with Go Red for Women. The movement marked 16 years of making women aware that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, expanding into Brazil, India, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan and Rwanda. Research Goes Red, in conjunction with Verily, is calling on women across the United States to contribute to health research.

With the pandemic underway, our Don’t Die of Doubt campaign reassured people that the emergency room is still the safest place to go, urging them to call 911 at the first sign of chest pain or stroke symptoms.

Another campaign, Show us your Good, encouraged people to show off how they’re making a difference and helping others during the pandemic — and provided a range of safe, impactful volunteer opportunities.

And entertainers tWitch and Allison got people moving with dance parties, helping thousands get their hearts pumping from the safety of their homes.