2023 Grants Challenge

Social Impact Fund Los Angeles

As champions for health equity, the American Heart Association is identifying and removing social and economic barriers to health by investing in evidence-based, local, non-profit, and for-profit enterprises with solutions to shift the inequitable health paradigm. We're addressing the non-medical, social, and economic factors that cause many people to develop heart disease and live shorter lives. We're focused on improving 3 social determinants of health: Access to Health and Healthcare, Food Security, and Economic Resiliency/Poverty Reduction.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Health Care Access

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In LA, more than 1.4M people live below poverty level and 1/4 of adults have fair-poor general health. LA County has the largest population of food insecure people in the US and 2/3 are impacted by systemic inequities that limit access to healthcare. No one better understands the changes needed in a community than the members who live there. However, only 3% of all venture capital investments support Black or women-led companies and less than 8% of private foundation grants go to organizations led by people of color. The Social Impact Fund overcomes the systemic funding challenges by creating a bridge between the expertise in the community to sustainably solve health barriers and the institutional funding to create large-scale solutions. We leverage our impact investment team experience and community trust to find and engage organizations that wouldn't typically seek traditional funding. We connect them with networks to share learnings, receive mentorship and technical assistance.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

We don't fund patches, we fund pathways to impact, innovation, and scale. We do this by providing flexible access to capital through grants and loans to small and medium-sized nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, in addition to technical assistance and capacity building. The Social Impact Fund Los Angeles is focused on three main social determinants of health: economic resilience/poverty reduction, access to health and health care, and food security, all through an environmental lens. This includes investing in solutions that overcome or eliminate barriers of transportation, language, culture, and technology to access affordable, quality healthcare. We are funding solutions that improve access to affordable housing and educational opportunities, prevent recidivism, and provide job training and economic pathways to disrupt and help lift individuals and families out of poverty. Within food security, we cover the full food ecosystem (dirt-to-dirt), by supporting enterprises that increase access to and availability of nutritious, culturally relevant, and affordable food in food deserts. We also support solutions that create a more equitable and healthy food production and distribution system.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Since 2019, we have doubled our funding and tripled our geographic footprint. Through donor support, we have raised more than $43M that has been invested in 120 social entrepreneurs and non-profits across 19 US markets. To date, 90% of investees are led by people of color and/or women. And for 75%, our funds represented their first or largest investment. As a result of our investment, technical assistance, and evaluation, they've seen $258M in follow-on funding and new revenue after our initial support. An example of impact comes from SUMA Wealth, an AHA Social Impact Fund investee in LA. They're a Latina-led wealth-building platform that is devoted to increasing prosperity, economic opportunity and financial inclusion for young Latinos and their families. With our investment, they aim to accelerate growth and grow evidence-base and commercialization strategy. They aim to provide access to learning and wealth-building behavior and opportunities for thousands of Angelenos.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We rigorously measure the impact of our investments across all social determinants of health areas. To date, our investments have improved the quality of life for 2 million individuals across the nation. This includes 1.1 million people that now have access to healthcare services through innovative approaches to healthcare, 2,753 individuals living in stable housing, 3,917 students having improved access to education, and a 6% recidivism rate of our programs (compared to the national rate of 45%). In addition to impact measurements, the AHA evaluates the cost effectiveness of each business model in addressing their specific issues. The goal of this analysis is to generate learnings that will inform and lead to improvements of business models within relevant sectors. Additionally, we evaluate the overall economic impact of the investees. Specifically, this line of evaluation focuses on metrics related to job creation and income growth for members of the community.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 10,000

Indirect Impact: 30,000