What We Do
The Social Impact Funds invest in community-led efforts that make neighborhoods healthier.
The Social Impact Funds represent a high priority strategy for the Association to drive equitable health and well-being for all, specifically through the lens of adverse social determinants of health and related structural inequity. Investments through these funds are designed to address the needs of communities from within the communities themselves. Specifically, the funds are focused on:
Providing access to capital
for for-profit and non-profit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that address adverse social determinants of health (SDOH) with the goal of generating long-term positive health outcomes.
Combating structural inequalities
through an inclusive and innovative approach to investing in social entrepreneurs and organizations that are reflective of their communities and are committed to solving the challenges there. This often includes investing in diverse SMEs that have been systematically bypassed by venture capital.
Accelerating innovation, scale, and the sharing of best practices
for Social Impact Funds portfolio of SMEs. This includes continually seeking synergies between social enterprises and their communities, knowledge transfer across communities, and replication of effective interventions.
Dynamically studying and addressing SIF existing and target markets
to ensure we are working on the most pressing challenges. This is also inclusive of continually engaging with the larger investor network to ensure continuity of funding opportunities.
The American Heart Association has created social impact funds that reimagine the approach to community transformation to combat social determinants of health through three key impact lenses focused on results.
By their nature, social determinants of health and their roots in structural legacy systems are interrelated. For example, transportation is often a barrier to accessing health services, and at the same time transportation solutions can impact climate and environmental health.
To clearly address the priority investment categories, the following three areas will shape these targeted efforts, acknowledging that many solutions will make an impact across the outlined topics.
Access to affordable, accessible, culturally appropriate quality health and health care is a fundamental value. In most cases, factors outside the traditional health care system are barriers to a healthy life. The funds focus on overcoming or eliminating these challenges. Investments in access to health care complement our other initiatives, including our advocacy and portfolio work addressing health and health systems as well as synergy with the other SDOH categories.
Examples of access to health and health care social enterprises include but are not limited to those focused on:
Innovation and Technology
Health tech, pharm tech, mental health care tech, social/emotional well-being tech and innovation makers
Advancing technologies offer new and scalable solutions, and if designed to address barriers in historically under-resourced communities, can reframe access to health.
Service and Transportation Platforms
Companies that improve access and knowledge for nonemergency health care, platforms removing language barriers, nonemergency transportation solutions, racially concordant perinatal and mental health care and employment/training opportunities within the health services industries
Some solutions may be variations of traditional services, such as last-mile transportation or community health workers. Others may create community health ambassadors who provide trusted guidance and navigation. And some may focus on loneliness and connection.
Food security encompasses the full food ecosystem from agriculture to food waste management. Both for-profit and non-profit SMEs in the agribusiness vertical/value chain can lead to better access to affordable, healthy and environmentally sustainable foods.
Examples of food security social enterprises include but are not limited to those focused on:
- Sustainable rural farming
- Urban farming and farming cooperatives
- Last-mile delivery (B2B and B2C)
- Innovative logistics
- Aquaculture/blue economy
- Healthy food retail
- Institutional meal providers
- Food retailers
- Increased healthy food purchasing power
- Food hubs
- Food waste management
- Mobile markets
Fortunately, significant overlap exists between food security and other SDOH categories, including food industry fair and living wage practices, climate-friendly growing and transportation practices and health care systems food services solutions. The funds will complement other advocacy and portfolio efforts focused on food systems.
Promoting economic stability through expanded educational opportunities, employment programs, banking practices and affordable housing is critical to achieving positive health outcomes.
Examples of economic resiliency and poverty reduction social enterprises include but are not limited to those focused on:
- Vocational training
- Recidivism programs
- Employment programs
- Anti-usury financial services
- Early education
- Affordable housing
- Eviction prevention
- Broadband/internet access
- Reducing the education achievement gap
- Violence prevention
As noted in other categories, opportunities for results across multiple initiatives are significant. Training focused on health sector services or food industry wage practices can benefit economic resiliency and health care access/food security. Our advocacy and portfolio efforts also address many of these issues.