January 5, 2023

$2 Million in Milestone Grants Awarded to Community-Grown San Diego Groups

Following a final pitch from five finalists, hours of deliberation and months of one-on-one coaching, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation board of directors was faced with the question: “How can we accelerate the most good for our community, given the opportunities presented by five strong and deserving candidates?”

Remarkably, the board this year was able to double its investment for this funding cycle and award two $1-million milestone-based Innovation Initiative (i2) grants to Project New Village and Urban Restoration Counseling Center, both based in San Diego. Each nonprofit organization will be supported with continued mentorship and incubation, and up to $1 million in a milestone-based grant.

Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s mission is to advance health and wellness for the most marginalized communities in our region. With the i2 Challenge Grant, the foundation seeks to close equity gaps and invest in transformative ideas that can achieve long-term, sustainable, positive community change.

“We don’t always get an opportunity to accelerate two incredible solutions that we feel will advance our mission meaningfully,” said Sarah Lyman, executive director of Alliance Healthcare Foundation. “By its very nature, the Innovation Initiative is a high risk, high potential reward. We’ve had years where it was more difficult to determine how $1 million would really move the needle with the ideas presented.

"We’ve had other i2 cohorts – this being one of them – where the solutions proposed by the i2 finalists were so strong, we struggled to make a decision out of the recognition that more than one solution presented an opportunity to meaningfully advance our mission in significant ways. I’m thrilled that we made the decision to support two community-grown and community-led solutions that we hope will achieve scale and success for the communities they serve."

Said Killu Sanborn, Alliance board trustee and chairperson: “This was a deeply rewarding experience, and we are so grateful to all the candidates for their clear passion and commitment to making the world a better place."

The 2022 i2 program is essentially an incubator program that includes 12 months of entrepreneurial education and customized mentoring through a partnership between the Alliance Healthcare Foundation and global business accelerator Nex Cubed. Based on relationships formed and progress made by the candidates during the program, there are clear pathways already identified to help move the awardees into the next phase of i2 support.

2022 i2 Challenge Grant Awardees:

Project New Village – This project is a manifestation of decades of community organizing. It is truly a long-held vision and resident-led, community-rooted project that will become a centralized hub in a disinvested community for supporting wellness and resiliency through:

  • Healthy food access in a food desert
  • Equitable food purchasing and distribution chain so local growers who are Black, Indigenous, or other people of color can earn income and build wealth
  • A tangible community asset in the form of a safe, thriving, community gathering place with community-aligned tenants and partnerships

"The news of the Alliance Healthcare Foundation Challenge grant decision has given me a new sense of empowerment, authority, and inspiration," said Diane Moss, managing director of Project New Village. "In the words of songwriters Gene McFadden and John Whitehead, ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.'"

Urban Restoration Counseling – This community-led organization provides mental health services to people of color by people of color.

  • In addition to facilitating intergenerational healing through mental health support to severely underserved populations, the organization recruits and trains the next generation of mental health clinicians from underrepresented groups.
  • Its "Therapy for All" model of care and training creates space for all people to access care and treatment at no charge, or on an accessible sliding-scale basis. Our communities are in crisis as it relates to mental health access and demand for intergenerational healing. The need Urban Restoration Counseling is addressing is immense, and the depth of individual impact and its ripple effects through family and community has the potential to be transformative and intergenerational.

“We are thankful and excited to be chosen as a recipient of Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s Innovation Initiative Challenge Grant," stated the Urban Restoration Counseling Executive Team. "Thank you for sharing our commitment to disrupting the cycle of intergenerational trauma in communities of color."

Out of more than 60 proposals, 25 organizations were chosen to enter the i2 educational cycle—a guided program coordinated by Innovation Partner Nex Cubed. After presenting early business models in April, 10 organizations were selected to continue their i2 journey and work on validating their solutions with customers and partners to demonstrate early traction and product-market fit.

In June, the 10 organizations gave in-person presentations to Alliance Healthcare Foundation committee members, community resident leaders and Nex Cubed, from which five finalists were selected. Over the remaining six months, the finalists received grant funding from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation as well as one-on-one coaching from Nex Cubed advisors who had been matched to each finalist.

“We are impressed with the work and progress each of the finalists has made. Along the way, some of them pivoted their business model for greater impact and success, and some discovered new ways to think bigger in terms of scale and sustainability,” said Nick Phillips, i2 program director of Nex Cubed.

While two winners were ultimately selected, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation intends to find other ways to support the other three finalists in their growth and development.

2022 i2 Finalists:

  • Kitchens for Good. Building an alternative staffing enterprise, WORKS, to fight economic inequality. The enterprise is committed to providing living wages, health benefits, savings plans, and support services to job seekers who face barriers to employment.
  • Welfie. Bringing generational health to marginalized communities through a health equity platform that delivers health education and care coordination to families on Medicaid and to underserved communities of color.
  • Youth Empowerment San Diego. Applying a lived-experience lens in a Trauma-Informed Care Code of Conduct training program for professionals working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.
  • The i2 funding program had its beginning in 2010 when the Alliance Healthcare Foundation recognized it must inspire innovation to meet its mission. It was clear that poor outcomes coupled with increased funding flowing to “sick care” systems were becoming an ever-larger portion of the country’s GDP and therefore unsustainable. The i2 initiative is based on the thesis that innovation capital is needed to transform this high-cost, poor-outcomes paradigm

“Our commitment to progress calls us to be bold,” Sanborn said. “Today a significant portion of our budget is deployed toward seeking, seeding and scaling innovation. In our view, innovations must reduce costs, improve quality, and increase access to health and wellness with an emphasis on our most marginalized communities.”

About The Innovation Initiative (i2)

The i2 funding challenge seeks market-based and/or transformational systems-change solutions with the potential to improve access, quality and health outcomes; increase capacity; reduce costs for the most systemically marginalized and under-resourced populations in San Diego and/or Imperial counties.  Here is more information.

About Alliance Healthcare Foundation

We work to advance health and wellness for the most vulnerable in San Diego and Imperial counties through collaborative funding, convening and advocacy. Here is more information.

About Nex Cubed

Nex Cubed is a global accelerator that invests in diverse founders that are solving problems that matter. We provide early-stage capital, corporate relationships, and access to a global ecosystem that empowers startups, investors, corporates, and governments to bring new technologies to market, help rising companies scale, and provide paths to liquidity – the power of three. Here is more information.