AHA heart and torch logoEmPOWERED To Serve

Urban Health Accelerator


Photo of a diverse group of people planing and working on a white board

What You Need To Know

The EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Health Accelerator is a six to eight week intensive training and grant opportunity designed to challenge you to apply innovative, community-based solutions to help solve an urgent urban health problem.

We are pleased to introduce the 2018 EmPOWERED to Serve Urban Health Accelerator Awardees! For the second year, we’ve sought out the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds who are working to solve urban health issues related to the social determinants of health.

photo of Leah Lizarondo, 412 Food Rescue


Leah Lizarondo, 412 Food Rescue took home the top spot!

Lizarondo designed this concept to deliver health impact through a technology nonprofit that aims to solve two of our biggest problems today — food waste and hunger.


photo of Francoise Marvel, MD, Corrie Health
Congratulations are also in order for Francoise Marvel, MD, Corrie Health, who’s vision will improve communities by re-engineering heart attack discharge and recovery.


Photo of Terry Gao, JeffDESIGN
This year, for the first time, we’ve added our Fan Favorite category. We know that thousands of you joined us on this journey listening to the visions and dreams of the finalists. For that reason, the American Heart Association awards the Fan Favorite designation, based on popular vote, to Terry Gao who envisions better health for communities through her commitment to Philly Shares.


Congratulations to the top qualifiers!

Photo of Leah Lizarondo, 412 Food Rescue
Photo of Francoise Marvel, MD, Corrie Health
Photo of April Inniss, EekMD
Photo of Kathryn Doornbos, Redemptive Cycles
Photo of Anj Vu Sawyer, Southeast Asian Coalition
Photo of Travis Fenderson, STEP Association
Photo of Sunny Williams, TinyDocs
Photo of Terry Gao, Philly Shares


Step One – Look Around and See the Problem

Is there a problem in your community that has an attainable, sustainable solution for it? Once you’ve determined the problem you feel most passionate about solving, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.

Step Two – Apply Online May 1st through June 30th

Step Three – Activate Your Genius

Our team will roll up our sleeves with you and you’ll have 6-8 weeks to build a plan, activate your team and implement your community project, MacGyver style (in other words, with what you have right now. Yes, it’s possible.).

The top performing teams will be invited to present their projects to a panel of judges from the marketing, media and investment communities on October 16, 2018, as a part of the American Heart Association’s Empowered To Serve Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.

At the American Heart Association, we believe in the impossible. In urban communities across the country, there are amazing stories of lives being changed by folks stepping up and solving problems others thought impossible. Through the Association’s EmPOWERED To ServeTM initiative, we are uncovering and accelerating incredible projects to improve the health and well-being of urban communities across the country.

Yes It’s Possible… and here’s a story of an inspirational 11 year old that made it happen!

Gitanjali Rao was upset about the water crisis devastating families in Flint, Michigan. She had an idea that could help quickly and accurately monitor water for lead. With no money, sponsors or even a space, Gitanjali pushed forward. After being turned away by everyone and every lab and school in her area, she converted her small bedroom into a ‘science room, where she developed an affordable device that quickly and accurately detects lead in water. She’s been named by 3M, the leading global science company, as America’s Top Young Scientist.

– Gitanjali is 11 years old.

See other inspirational stories.

Thank you to the EmPOWERED To Serve Urban Health Accelerator in-kind sponsors for providing mentorship and access to technology: