The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, in collaboration with Aetna, held the first-ever Venture Fund competition. The “Shark Tank” style pitch event was held in Boston on May 22, 2019, with a focus on seeding new, innovative and collaborative solutions to further the finalist organization’s social missions.
An expert panel of judges and the broader community selected four winners out of eight finalists – who will be awarded up to $75,000 to implement their initiatives with a one-year grant. This progressive community impact program selected the winners after they pitched their ideas live on issues including family homelessness, school readiness and the need for skilled workers. The winners chosen were: Urban College of Boston, FamilyAid Boston, Lawrence CommunityWorks and Our Neighbors Table.
This collaboration is designed to approach a significant problem in a new way. Communities that have access to housing, jobs and career support have healthier residents because consumer health is affected by more than access to healthcare. This is why Aetna is working hard to bring additional resources into the community which will improve health ambitions. This Venture Fund competition supports the holistic long-term vision of achieving lasting change.
“Health starts in the community, and the most innovative solutions to help improve community health are often developed by individuals and organizations that experience these issues firsthand on a daily basis,” said Leila Nowroozi, Aetna Business Strategy. “We are committed to supporting community-based groups that address social determinants of health. The grants from the United Way Venture Fund will give these organizations additional resources to make greater impact and generate data so that we can all learn from their best practices.”
Michael K. Durkin, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way said “we know that together, we can do more than any one organization can do alone.” Additionally, they were “looking for partnerships and collaborations among existing organizations that are shovel ready and focused on creating financial opportunity and ensuring educational success for people in need in our region.”
Go here for more information on the winners and the rest of the finalists.