Harnessing the Power of Community – The ACT on Health Equity: Community Solutions Challenge is back!

By Martha Orzechowski, Head, US Advocacy & Alliance,
Corporate Affairs & Executive Director, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Photo Credit: Femergy

Systemic barriers prevent millions of Americans from achieving the best possible health outcomes, so AstraZeneca must work together to advance health equity with external stakeholders. One way we are living this imperative is through a long term commitment to identify and invest in fostering health equity in partnership with local communities.

We are excited to expand on last year’s efforts with the launch of the 2022 ACT on Health Equity: Community Solutions Challenge. This annual funding opportunity is available to US nonprofit organizations that are advancing health equity among underserved communities through innovative health, wellbeing and STEM programs at the local and regional level. Organizations can apply on AstraZeneca’s US website from April 1- May 13 for a contribution of $25,000 in program funding. This year a total of $1 million will be distributed to organizations across the country.

AstraZeneca launched the ACT on Health Equity: Community Solutions Challenge in 2021 and in its inaugural year the program received applications from over 1,350 organizations across the nation. The overwhelming response reaffirms the great need for investing in programs designed and delivered in local communities. The 30 local and regional programs selected as 2021 recipients received a total of $750,000 to support their work across 17 states. View the full list of 2021 recipients here.

Photo Credit: Michael Piazza

One 2021 award recipient, Community Servings, provides emergency food assistance for individuals across Massachusetts, who are experiencing the dual challenges of poverty and critical/chronic illnesses, such as HIV, cancer, diabetes, and renal disease. Community Servings’ Medically Tailored Nutrition Program is an evidence-based health intervention that provides home-delivered, medically tailored meals, nutrition education and counseling to improve the health, quality of life, and economic wellbeing of individuals served and their families. 

“Our medically tailored meals represent a key health equity intervention, promoting access to healthy food, improving health outcomes, and disrupting the cycle of food insecurity and illness among communities that have experienced systemic underinvestment. We are so grateful to AstraZeneca for recognizing the important role medically tailored meals play in driving health equity,” said David B. Waters, Chief Executive Officer, Community Servings.

Another 2021 recipient, New Village Girls Academy, provides a unique high school educational program with critical social-emotional support to young women from underserved communities in Los Angeles County. Their STEM Program includes weekly science classes in biology, chemistry and a science elective. They also offer an environmental engineering science course focused on practical solutions to real-world problems, technology skills development in the on-campus makerspace, and STEM-based internships. By providing opportunities for young women to learn about STEM careers through guest panels, mentored internships and relevant hands-on learning, they are creating new career pathways for women of color and increasing their representation in STEM fields.

“Our STEM Program is a powerful tool for achieving socio-economic equity for young women of color and their families, and for helping to address systemic racism in education and workforce development. When young women of color engage in STEM learning, they gain a foothold on the path to higher education and the creation of better futures for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Jennifer Quinones, Principal, New Village Girls Academy.

Photo Credit: New Village Girls Academy

Through the ACT on Health Equity: Community Solutions Challenge, AstraZeneca is proud to support local partners nationwide to accelerate change in pursuit of more equitable communities. We look forward to reviewing the 2022 applications!

For more information and to access the online application, visit bit.ly/ACT-challenge. Applications will be accepted April 1 through May 13, 2022, 11:59 PM ET.