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Economy League, Independence Blue Cross, and Accelerate Health Equity announce Well City Challenge 2.0 finalists

Fifteen finalists will pitch their community mind and heart wellness solutions for underserved Philadelphia communities.

The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia (ELGP) and Accelerate Health Equity (AHE) announced the Well City Challenge 2.0 finalists. The challenge is powered by Independence Blue Cross.

The Well City Challenge 2.0 is a social impact challenge to engage and support everyday innovators with new creative ideas for addressing Philadelphia’s mind and heart health disparities among underserved communities. It supports community-sourced through incubator workshops, a pitch competition, mentorship, accelerator, a pilot period, and over $100,000 in prizes and investment opportunities.

“Philadelphia consistently ranks lowest in Pennsylvania for health outcomes,” said Jeff Hornstein, executive director of ELGP. “With this latest iteration of the Well City Challenge, our goal is to create self-sustaining solutions for Philadelphians that face health disparities. We are proud of these finalists and grateful to Independence Blue Cross for its support of these important initiative.”

“It’s important for us to find health care solutions that serve the whole person, which includes the community that surrounds them. Establishing a grass-roots network through innovators that already have relationships with and are invested in the health outcomes of their friends and neighbors is key to improving the health of the city of Philadelphia as a whole,” said Kernika Gupta, director of CEO Initiatives at Independence Blue Cross.

Accelerate Health Equity is a new partner to the Well City Challenge, emphasizing the understanding of health disparities through data. Through a series of listening sessions starting in 2022, ELGP and AHE have compiled the community’s most common and significant concerns regarding mental and cardiovascular health and the barriers that prevent Philadelphians from accessing quality support in their neighborhoods.

“Accelerate Health Equity’s core mission is eliminating health disparities in Philly, but that doesn’t mean just making changes within health care institutions,” said Erica Dixon, director of Accelerate Health Equity. “It means supporting community members as they work to create change within their neighborhoods and within the city. We are so excited to support the Well City Challenge and grateful for the fifteen teams who have put in so much energy and time to move their ideas forward to help Philadelphians.”

All Well City Challenge proposals are related to three categories: Creating Safe Spaces, Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care, and Supporting Community Connections.

The GIANT company is a sponsor of the incubator workshops. “We’re proud to be supporting a great initiative that provides a platform to Philadelphia’s brightest minds,” says Paula Madarieta, regional director of Greater Philadelphia of the GIANT Company. “In the past two years with our entry into Philadelphia market we have made it a priority to contribute to organizations that develop health and education throughout the city.”

Fifteen finalist teams will participate in “Shark Tank” style pitch competitions produced by ELGP. The event will be held on May 4, 2023, at the CIC Science Center, 3675 Market Street, Philadelphia. Emmy Award nominee and rising Philly R&B star Julian King will MC the festivities.

The panel of judges will select a winner for each category to be awarded $10,000. In addition, the audience will choose the “People’s Choice Award” winner for each category with a prize of $7,500. All prize winners will also move on to an accelerator to further develop their ideas and prepare to compete for a Grand Prize of $50,000.

The 2023 Well City Challenge 2.0 finalists are:

Creating Safe Spaces

  • Anavi Strategies scales the use of trauma-informed organizational practices within nonprofit organizations.
  • Counseling in Motion uses boxing and other exercises to help bring therapy and mental wellness to inner city youth.
  • The Hermitage Philadelphia is a not-for-profit retreat center for Community Mental Health professionals offering free to low-cost wellness.
  • TCBME is a behavioral health counseling ecosystem tailored for Black & Brown youth.
  • Hoops for Hearts is a program for middle schoolers in underserved communities. The program is a basketball tournament that is designed to make cardiac health awareness “cool.”

Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care

  • First Greens Farm’s establishes 10,000 sq. ft. indoor hydroponic vertical farms for local consumers by utilizing vacant buildings.
  • Food Connect bridges the gaps at the intersection of hunger, food waste, and health by measuring and evaluating the impact of their feeding programs.
  • Peds 360+ offers a unique integrative approach to pediatric medicine by providing comprehensive, family-centered care.
  • Team Up to Heal the Heart of the Community, established by Corrielus Cardiology, partners with primary care providers and faith-based organizations to provide access to culturally competent cardiac care to minority communities.
  • Heart Healthy Philadelphia (Health4Naija) addresses health inequity and primordial prevention of heart disease by training local high school students in schools and via social media.

 Supporting Community Connections

  • Building Healthy Communities within Families (BHCF) addresses the mental health needs of families, educates on ways to reduce violence, and builds community networks.
  • Every Heartbeat Counts advocates for heart health issues amongst patients diagnosed with degenerative heart conditions and high-risk community members through classes, workshops, and resources.
  • The Wellness Co-Op promotes opportunities for all residents to gain consistent access to quality health and wellness resources facilitated by local wellness providers at local public spaces.
  • The West Philly G’Hood Network (WPGN) integrates structured “in real life” community activities with tech platforms to promote family development.
  • WavelyDX (Nightlife to Wholelife app) is an online platform that provides millennials with information to promote healthier choices within nightlife.

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