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Economy League, Independence Blue Cross, Accelerate Health Equity announce winners of Well City Challenge 2.0

By May 8, 2023May 22nd, 2023Featured Innovation Press Releases

Pictured left to right: Maritza Pedlar, Impact program director, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; The Wellness Co-Op, Judges' Choice Winner for Supporting Community Connections; TCBME, Judges' Choice winner for Creating Safe Spaces; Peds 360+, Judge's Choice winner for Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care; Erica Dixon, director, Accelerate Health Equity; Kernika Gupta, director of CEO Initiatives, Independence Blue Cross

Winners will receive funding for their community solutions to rising mind and heart health challenges

The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia (ELGP) and Accelerate Health Equity (AHE) today announced the Judges’ Choice winners of the Well City Challenge 2.0, following a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition this evening in West Philadelphia. The challenge is powered by Independence Blue Cross.

The Well City Challenge 2.0 is a social impact program supporting local innovators with new ideas for healthcare solutions to overcome existing barriers to equitable care for Philadelphia’s Black and brown communities.

Tonight’s event at the CIC Science Center featured pitch competitions across three unique categories: Creating Safe Spaces, Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care, and Supporting Community Connections.

“With the first iteration of the Well City Challenge having occurred during the pandemic, being able to interact with the teams face to face and have this year’s pitch competition take place in person has been a thrilling experience,” says Jeff Hornstein, Executive Director of ELGP. “The excitement and curiosity at last night’s event was palpable with all teams and their supporters gathered under one roof. You could really feel the reach these teams have with their communities and connection to the people they’ll impact with their solutions.”

The three winners were selected by a panel of expert judges, and each received $10,000 to continue refining and implementing their ideas. Additionally, three People’s Choice winners will be selected by members of the public to each receive $7,500. The winners will continue to work with mentors and coaches to refine their idea and prepare for the pilot phase. The GIANT Company sponsored the incubator phase of the challenge.

“The beauty of working with local innovators that already have connections to their communities is that growth and impact have the potential to occur rapidly. We look forward to seeing these teams’ solutions come to life and thank everyone who has made contributions of mentorship, funding, and support for an initiative that we hope to make a Philadelphia tradition,” says Kernika Gupta, Director of CEO Initiatives at Independence Blue Cross.

“Having worked closely with these teams throughout the past four weeks, we are incredibly proud to see their creativity and ingenuity being shared with the public,” says Erica Dixon, director of Accelerate Health Equity. “Starting from our listening sessions in the fall of 2022 to identify Philadelphia communities’ most common and significant barriers to health equity, our finalists are truly a reflection of the solutions that Philadelphia’s underserved communities need here and now.”

Well City Challenge winners were selected from among 15 teams chosen from a pool of about 100 applications representing 46 ZIP codes across Southeastern Pennsylvania and surrounding counties.

The 2023 Well City Challenge Judge’s Choice winners are:

Creating Safe Spaces

TCBME is a behavioral health counseling ecosystem tailored for Black & Brown youth.

Equitable Access to Nutrition & Care

Peds 360+ offers a unique integrative approach to pediatric medicine by providing comprehensive, family-centered care.

Supporting Community Connections

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 2023 Well City Challenge People’s Choice winners voting, and tabulation is not yet complete. An announcement will be sent when these winners are finalized.

The Grand Prize Winner of the first iteration of the Well City Challenge in 2021 was Hey Auntie!, a virtual, multigenerational matching service for millennial women of color to discuss their careers, provide mentorship and support, and outline career goals. Founder Nicole Kenney has been involved in 2.0, helping to guide and mentor the current group of finalists. 

This year’s winners are addressing the most common and significant concerns regarding mental and cardiovascular health resulting from ELGP, AHE, and other partners’ research. With Black and brown Philadelphians facing barriers such as inability to find a nearby physician, fewer opportunities to exercise safely in their neighborhoods, and having higher rates of medical comorbidities — including hypertension, diabetes, and obesity — the goal of the Well City Challenge 2.0 is to develop unique action plans to address these concerns.