GuideWell Issues $100K Challenge for Novel Approaches to Improve Economic Disparities

Everyone should have an equal opportunity to thrive in life no matter what zip code they reside in. But for people who live in places where economic and heatlh disparities are high, their chances of achieving optimal health and well-being diminish. That's why GuideWell is launching the Growing Resilient Communities statewide well-being challenge. The goal is to accelerate the development of place-based approaches focused on addressing economic disparities in underserved communities in Florida.

“This challenge aims to identify resources, tools, programs and novel approaches that empower people living in underserved communities to lead the way in designing their paths to sustainable economic stability and long-term resilience,” said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation. “It aligns with GuideWell’s commitment to advancing health equity and addressing social determinants of health, including economic factors that can impact people’s health outcomes and ability to thrive.”

According to a September 2020 report by the Urban Institute called “Creating Places of Opportunity for All” there is a direct correlation between the economic prosperity of a person’s neighborhood and their health.

The four-month challenge is targeted to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, social innovators and grassroot organizations and is focused on sourcing innovative approaches that empower community residents to be actively involved in developing their neighborhood’s long-term resiliency.

The challenge will award a total of $100,000 in prize money to organizations with sustainable, innovative approaches that align with one of the following focus areas:

• Programs or proven approaches that provide knowledge, mentorship and capital to jumpstart local small businesses and drive place-based entrepreneurship

• Educational programs that teach financial literacy and credit skills or that provide legal or educational counseling to families living in distressed Florida communities

• Organizations that offer mobile or virtual health services that can be offered “on demand” in a distressed community

• Organizations that can provide a safe convening place within a distressed community to host community input forums, entrepreneurship skills workshops and regular health and wellness clinics

• Programs or models that mentor people within a local community to design and bootstrap their own baseline community development strategy or social enterprise

Applicants will be competitively selected to present in one of four virtual regional pitch events with finalists in Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami this fall.

The top three finalists from each region will each receive $5,000 in funding and will be invited to the statewide challenge finals on Oct. 27 at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Orlando’s Lake Nona Medical City for a chance to win a $40,000 grand prize.

The statewide challenge showcase will kick off the Growing Resilient Communities well-being forum, an invitation-only, collaborative event between the Florida Blue Foundation and GuideWell that is being held on Oct. 28. This forum will bring together a national audience of thought leaders, experts and stakeholders to focus on building high-impact opportunities for creating equal health access and education in Florida. John Hope Bryant, a nationally recognized speaker, entrepreneur, author, philanthropist and thought leader on financial inclusion, economic empowerment and financial dignity, will serve as the keynote speaker.

The well-being challenge and forum are just a couple of initiatives that demonstrate GuideWell’s commitment to addressing health disparities and social determinants of health, the social and economic factors that impact people’s overall health.

The Florida Blue Foundation, a separate philanthropic affiliate of GuideWell, has identified health equity as one of its current three areas of focus. Driven by its mission to improve the health of people and communities in Florida, the Foundation strategically targets funding to organizations that can deliver resources and programming to impact generational poverty and drive improvements in the overall health status of communities.

GuideWell began accepting applications for the Growing Resilient Communities challenge on July 7 and applications must be submitted by August 6. Additional information on the challenge is available here.

About the Author

Ilyssa Drumm

GuideWell Social Media and Media Relations Consultant