DALLAS and NEW YORK CITY, February 6, 2023 — On Thursday, Feb. 2, the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, celebrated the contributions of Black American community catalysts and changemakers nationwide with its inaugural Impact With Heart Awards. The event at the Long Gallery Harlem in New York City acknowledged the transformative work being done at the local level nationwide to improve the lives of Black Americans and communities of color.
The awards honored the specific contributions of two community leaders who have powered the delivery of community-based solutions that shift the health inequity paradigm, remove barriers to health equity and, ultimately, serve the Black community and other communities of color. The inaugural program also featured special appearances by national syndicated radio personality Sybil Wilkes and celebrity television personality, attorney and official American Heart Association National Volunteer Star Jones.
The 2023 awardees are Charles Daniels, PhD, founder and CEO of Fathers’ UpLift, which provides mental health counseling, coaching and advocacy to assist fathers in Boston, overcome barriers that prevent them from remaining engaged in their children's lives; and Brittany Young, founder of B-360, whose mission is to use dirt bike culture in Baltimore to end the cycle of poverty, disrupt the prison pipeline and build bridges in communities.
“You can tell people to make healthy lifestyle choices, but one of the root causes of health inequities is economic adversity. We have to focus on this. Within the American Heart Association, we’re addressing economic adversity as a root driver of poor health, especially cardiovascular health,” said American Heart Association volunteer President Michelle A. Albert, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, the Walter A. Haas-Lucie Stern endowed chair in Cardiology, professor of medicine and admissions dean at University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine.
“We are honored to be featured during the celebration,“ said Daniels. “Fathers’ UpLift provides mental health counseling, coaching and advocacy to assist fathers with overcoming racism and emotional, traumatic and addiction-based barriers that prevent them from remaining engaged in their children’s lives. Thanks to the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Fund, we received much needed funding to improve economic and social conditions in our community. The success of the fathers that we have supported is proof that investing in local entrepreneurs and organizations can break down the social and economic barriers to health equity.”
”We are honored to have been recognized for our record of achievement. More than 9,000 youth under the age of 16 have received services contributing to a 45% improvement on Maryland standardized testing scores among participants. In addition, 57 former non-violent offenders gained direct employment experience with B-360 as instructors. This effort saved $2.2 million in taxpayer dollars by employing those at risk of incarceration and reducing dirt bike arrests in Baltimore by 83%,” said Young.
The organization has made an impact addressing food insecurity, transportation, access to healthcare, STEM and youth education. B-360 Baltimore was a finalist in the 2019 EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator, a funding competition that brings together a diverse pool of social and digital health entrepreneurs and organizations who are driving change through health justice in their communities.
The American Heart Association Social Impact Funds were launched in 2018 to support community-based solutions that reduce social and economic barriers to health equity. The investment strategy complements the work of the American Heart Association’s strategic goal to confront nonmedical, social and economic barriers that cause many people to develop heart disease and have shorter, unhealthier lives. The funds are devoted to evidence-based, sustainable solutions led by local nonprofits and small businesses across diverse markets and issues. The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator simultaneously supports social and digital health entrepreneurs and organizations who are driving change through health justice in their communities and specifically target food insecurity, transportation, access to healthcare, STEM, youth education and more.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.