Local teams honored for initiatives designed to improve the health of Philadelphia’s millennial population
Hey Auntie!, a multi-generational wellness tech platform for Black women that facilitates purposeful connections through conversations, fitness, learning new skills, and volunteerism, was named the $50,000 Well City Challenge grand prize recipient during the Well City Expo on Wednesday, July 7.
Presented by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia in partnership with Independence Blue Cross (Independence), the Well City Expo is a community showcase event that spotlights the best concepts and business plans from the Well City Challenge – a social impact program supporting innovators with new ideas for addressing and improving millennial mental and physical health through community-led ventures.
The Expo is the culmination of months of planning, market research, pitch competitions and incubators for the five Philadelphia-based finalists.
“[The Economy League and Independence Blue Cross] have demonstrated that they are not just interested in my idea, but that it is implemented well and makes significant impact. There is very little data on the health of Black millennial women, and so in the next five years, my goal is to use the data we gathered through Hey Auntie! to help inform delivery services to improve Black millennial women’s behavioral and physical health. I want to expand Hey Auntie! to be a resource and a service in the workplace with insurance companies and in our healthcare systems and be a model for what a culturally responsive support system can look like.”– Nicole Kenney, Hey Auntie!
In addition to awarding $50,000 to help implement the community program outlined by Hey Auntie!, the Expo celebrated the incredible work of the other winners of Well City Challenge Pitch Competition. Winners for three unique categories – Community and Social Connection, Food and Nutrition, and Mind and Body – were selected from among a pool of more than 100 applications representing all five counties and 51 ZIP codes in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Expo provided members of the community with an opportunity to directly interact with the winning teams and attend their virtual booths, as well as ask questions related to ideas being presented and hear about the competition’s incubator experience.
The five Well City Challenge Pitch Competition winners honored during the Expo are:
- Hey, Auntie! – a multi-generational wellness tech platform for Black women that facilitates purposeful connections through conversations, fitness, learning new skills, and volunteerism. Hey Auntie! aims to provide a safe and vulnerable space and place for Black women to share and seek solutions and support to experiences uniquely their own.
- Strides – a running-based fitness community that helps participants get in shape, improve their health and boost their mood. The program combines running and circuit training for well-balanced workouts that participants can follow along on their app or at coach-led group workouts in Philadelphia.
- The Freedom Greens and Gardens Project – will transform Malcolm X Park and the surrounding blocks as a destination for wellness within the heart of West Philadelphia by providing space, community and ongoing opportunities for millennials to be well and to thrive. Through plant-based cooking classes and subscription boxes (providing produce grown at their community garden), the program will empower the community to embrace a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their families through healthier eating.
- Lets Talk Philly Conversation Circles – works in partnership with The Welcoming Center to offer immigrant millennials a safe space to practice and improve their English conversation skills, develop social capital, and increase their understanding about immigrant wellness by sharing their stories, breaking stereotypes and prejudice, and ensuring cultural authenticity.
- Shear Balance – provides crucial mental health training to the communities that need it most, specifically targeting salons and barber shops as places that community members congregate. This mental health training will help stylists and barbers identify and address mental health red flags in these traditionally underserved communities.
“The health challenges facing millennials demand new ideas from new perspectives, so we set out to tap into the wellspring of innovation that exists at the community level across our region,” said Gregory E. Deavens, Independence president and CEO. “It has been an honor to partner with the Economy League to sponsor the Well City Challenge, and we are so excited to see Hey Auntie! reach its full potential.”
“The response from our friends and neighbors to address the rising millennial health challenges was nothing short of remarkable,” said Nick Frontino, managing director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. “We saw many of Philadelphia’s best and brightest minds present ideas that can transform lives and bridge social gaps at an unprecedented rate. Grand prize winner Hey Auntie! has the ability to connect multiple generations of Black women and provide a positive, long-standing benefit to all who participate.”
The Well City Challenge was inspired by the 2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield Health of America report “The Health of Millennials,” which found that millennials are suffering from more physical and mental health challenges than previous generations, including double-digit increases in 8 out of 10 top health conditions. Additional research found the economic impact of millennials’ poorer health could result in healthcare treatments increasing by 33 percent, a 40 percent mortality rate increase, and a potential average annual income reduction of $4,500 for each millennial.
Additional information about the Well City Challenge, including the Well City Expo, is available here.