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The KLA Foundation announced first round recipients of the American Heart Association - KLA Social Equity Fund, created to help reduce the social and economic barriers to health equity in the Metro Detroit and South Bay/Silicon Valley areas over the next three years. From over 60 nonprofits who submitted expressions of interest, five organizations will receive grants from an initial $530K round of funding to combat root causes of systemic inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including food and housing insecurity, mental health, safety, and job instability. The grant recipients, Peaches and Greens, Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday (D.L.I.V.E), Keep Growing Detroit, International Children Assistance Network, and Midtown Family Services, were announced at a virtual awards ceremony held on March 31, 2021 and attended by senior members of KLA Corporation, KLA Foundation, and the American Heart Association.
"The selected organizations reflect our shared belief that local individuals and organizations drive meaningful social change," said John Van Camp, executive vice president, human resources, at KLA. "While unrelenting in fulfilling their mission, they can't do it alone. Support must come from many places, and through the AHA-KLA Social Equity Fund, we can identify, support and champion those who are transforming the communities they serve."
A hyper-local strategy informed by local health and business needs drives the social equity fund's investments in organizations that deeply understand the critical issues their communities face. The recipients were selected based on their ability to provide transformational community services and resources that uplift and empower. The grant funding will impact the nonprofit organizations and their communities in the following ways:
- Peaches and Greens—Provide healthy, nutritious food to between 600 and 800 individuals on a monthly basis via food-as-medicine contracts with health systems. The initiative aims to reduce food insecurity and improve health outcomes within several of Michigan's lowest-income zip codes.
- D.L.I.V.E—Deliver mental health services to low-income young adults in Detroit and develop the infrastructure and evidence base to provide patients with custom therapeutic plans. This approach will be replicated in other trauma centers.
- Keep Growing Detroit—Secure market outlets for over 60 growers to work cooperatively and increase access to fresh, healthy, and sustainably-produced food.
South Bay/Silicon Valley
- International Children Assistance Network (ICAN)—Increase capacity and reach during a time of heightened importance amidst social distancing mandates. The financial assistance will directly address issues disproportionately impacting the Asian American community by applying a culturally sensitive mental health lens.
- Midtown Family Services—Launch new co-housing communities for homeless individuals or those at the brink of becoming homeless. The fund will cover case management, mental health and navigation services, job placement and financial support to become self-sufficient.
"We are so excited to receive this grant," said Peaches and Greens founder Lisa Johanon. "The potential to make an impact is incredible and we are honored to be recipients of funding from the American Heart Association and KLA. As valuable as the grant is, I am equally pleased to have a team who truly cares about us and the project. They are committed and rooting for our collective success."
Long before the coronavirus pandemic, systemic challenges have impeded many individuals from living longer, healthier lives. In the U.S. approximately 50 million people are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease because they lack necessities like nutritious food, clean air and drinking water, quality education, employment, and housing. As people of color continue to bear the impact of social, economic and health disparities, they also face higher potential risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
"The AHA and KLA recognize COVID-19 has made it that much more challenging to support those at highest risk, but believe that racial and social injustice demand action," added Maria Gonzalez Olson, regional senior vice president at the American Heart Association. "We're stronger when we're together. The social equity fund helps make our collective vision of closing the equity gap possible."