AstraZeneca - Connections for Cardiovascular Health announces $150,000 grant to Sankofa Community Development Corporation

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program today announced a grant of $150,000 to the Sankofa Community Development Corporation (SCDC) in support of the Sankofa HEAL Project. This is the second consecutive year in which Sankofa has received a grant from the Foundation, totaling $300,000.

The Sankofa Health, Education, Agriculture, and Leadership (HEAL) Project teaches adolescent youth and their families about the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as the associated risk reduction for cardiovascular disease and chronic illnesses. Participants learn about heart healthy lifestyles, nutrition, techniques for growing fruits and vegetables, and leadership skills.

After one year of funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, HEAL students scored an average of 86 percent on cardiovascular knowledge measures, according to the SCDC. Students had little knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors prior to the start of the program. They are now reading nutrition labels, aware of the benefits of eating green foods and fresh produce, and exercising more. Students also consistently work as paid interns at the Sankofa Gardens and Farmers Market.

“We are extremely excited to be awarded this second year of funding from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation,” said Rashida Ferdinand, executive director of Sankofa Community Development Corporation. “This grant will help us to maintain the capacity we need to reach an even broader audience and the resources to expand our programs as we work to create a healthier environment for all New Orleanians.”

The HEAL Project teaches youth how to maintain a garden and engage with their community to address these important health issues. Current participants are becoming peer educators on strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. HEAL students work with community-based organizations to participate in health fairs and present information on diet, nutrition, and CVD risk factors. They also engage in grassroots outreach work to improve affordability and access to fresh food in the Ninth Ward area.

“Cardiovascular disease continues to be the nation’s No. 1 killer, which is why we must work to decrease the risks of this devastating disease," said James W. Blasetto, M.D., MPH, FACC chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. "The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation is proud to provide funding to innovative, grassroots programs like Sankofa’s HEAL project, which works to help prevent and control the effects of cardiovascular disease in their community."

The Connections for Cardiovascular Health program awards grants of $150,000 and up to US-based non-profit organizations that are doing innovative work in the field of cardiovascular health. This year, the Foundation has awarded more than $4.4 million in grants to 22 organizations. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded nearly $11 million across the United States to help improve cardiovascular health.

Organizations can learn more and apply online for a Foundation grant at Applications must be submitted online no later than 5 p.m. EST on Feb. 28, 2013.

About Sankofa Community Development Corporation

Sankofa Community Development Corporation, founded in 2008, serves as a catalyst to revitalize New Orleans’ Lower and Upper Ninth Ward communities. The non-profit organization was established to facilitate advances in urban revitalization, healthy living, education and economic development. Currently, the Sankofa Community Development Corporation leads the Sankofa Farmers Market, the Sankofa HEAL Project and the Sankofa Learning Gardens and Farms Project. For more information, visit

About the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Established in 1993, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation is a Delaware not-for-profit corporation and a 501(c)(3) entity organized for charitable purposes including to promote public awareness of healthcare issues, to promote public education of medical knowledge and to support or contribute to charitable and qualified exempt organizations consistent with its charitable purpose. Connections for Cardiovascular Health was launched in 2010 through a charitable contribution of $25 million from AstraZeneca.

Media Inquiries

AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation Media Line 302-885-2677
Rashida Ferdinand, Sankofa Community Development Corporation 504-872-9214