September 01, 2021
Penn Medicine and the Wharton School's Social Impact Initiative are rolling out a new venture that will strive to bolster the health and well-being of lower-income Philadelphians.
The Fund for Health will invest $5 million over the next three years into startup businesses that are providing products and services that positively impact Philly residents.
The initiative is expected to award grants ranging from $100,000-$250,000 annually to 10 startups that will have a meaningful impact on public health in the city. The grants will be funded by Penn Medicine.
"Investing and supporting innovative, forward-thinking ventures has great potential to make a meaningful impact on our city's health while helping to build sustainable and profitable companies for the region that provide paths to jobs and economic opportunities for more city residents," the University of Pennsylvania Health System's CEO Kevin B. Mahoney said.
The Fund for Health on Tuesday unveiled its initial round of investments into three early-stage companies, each of which will receive a $250,000 grant. The following organizations were identified by students from Penn Medicine and the Wharton School as ones that "strengthen the social determinants of health of economically-disadvantaged Philadelphians."
•Kinvolved: A New York-based company that has developed technology to keep students from missing class in underserved school districts.
•Uptrust: A San Francisco-based organization that has put together tools to help people avoid unnecessary criminal justice system violations, such as missing court dates or probation appointments.
•RecoveryLink: A Philadelphia-based startup that has developed an electronic recovery records platform which seeks to improve the availability of recovery support services for people experiencing substance use and mental health disorders.
Students on the investment team from Penn Medicine and the Wharton School are first tasked with identifying potential companies. The startups are then assessed for a potential grant by the Fund for Health's investment committee, which is made up of people from Penn and the local community specializing in medicine, health, entrepreneurship and venture capital.
The rollout of the Fund for Health comes as more than 25% of Philadelphians were living in poverty as of 2019, according to a Penn Medicine study published two years ago. The same report found that 20% of Philadelphians were experiencing food insecurity and that nearly 15% of city residents did not have health insurance.