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Collage of the 5 HEIC Awardees "2024 Health Equity Innovation Challenge Awardees"

The challenge to address health inequities

Johnson & Johnson selects winners of the 2024 Health Equity Innovation Challenge that aims to address health inequities

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Racial health inequities have long plagued society and the health of communities of color across the United States. At Johnson & Johnson, we believe in grassroots initiatives that develop solutions to meet the unique needs of their communities. We know these changemakers are tirelessly pushing against the status quo and making a difference.

That’s why in 2021, Johnson & Johnson created the Health Equity Innovation Challenge to stimulate innovative and novel thinking around localized approaches to advancing health equity. Organizations selected for the Health Equity Innovation Challenge have a collective goal of focusing on health conditions that disproportionately impact communities of color and addressing factors that are known to drive disparities.

Each winning organization shared an inspiring set of actions that they are taking to address health inequity in their communities:

  • Prevent and treat illnesses that disproportionately affect communities of color
  • Enhance equitable access to healthcare
  • Stimulate diversity in science
  • Advocate for more trusted community-based healthcare
  • Promote health equity through community engagement and education

Selected from a pool of more than 140 applicants by Spelman College and an independent judging committee (Helen Gayle, M.D., President, Spelman College; Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. University Professor, University of Connecticut; Eddie Martinez, Executive Director, Latino Equality Alliance; Kathryn Finney, Founding Managing Partner, Genuis Guild; Kiera Smalls, Co-Founder, Strides; Uché Blackstock, M.D., Founder and CEO, Advancing Health Equity) each program will receive seed funding, mentorship from renowned entrepreneurs and public health experts, and access to the Johnson & Johnson - JLABS ecosystem, which includes networking opportunities and more, to advance their innovations.

Each winning organization provided the following description of the actions it is taking to address health inequity in its community.

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Atlanta - SisterLove Incorporated

SisterLove Incorporated’s Health Love Experience Plus (HLE+) program is dedicated to enhancing access to HIV/STI prevention initiatives through an on-site and mobile clinic, screening, safe sex education, counseling and proper linkage to care. With over 30 years of experience of advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights in Georgia, the funds from the Johnson & Johnson Health Equity Innovation Challenge will support the planned intervention activities for the HLE+ program in 2024.

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Chicago - Dion’s Chicago Dream

Dream Vault, a program from Dion’s Chicago Dream, works to address food insecurity – an issue that affects Black and Latino households at nearly double the rate of white households – by providing under-resourced families convenient fresh produce box pickups at popular retail stores. With its current capacity, Dream Vault can help provide food security daily for 150 households within a 1-mile radius, and Challenge funds will be used to install 15 new Dream Vaults with the hope of having 30 vaults installed by the end of 2024.

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Los Angeles - Oben Health

Oben Health is helping to improve healthcare access and outcomes for communities of color by using an AI-enabled service to embed preventive care services within barbershops and salons in Los Angeles. Challenge funds will support expansions of the digital platform and create a barber incentive program to promote regular engagement and foster a sense of community among program participants.


NYC - Greater NYC Black Nurses Association

The Greater NYC Black Nurses Association is partnering with the Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management to create a nursing pathway program for high school students of color in New York City to improve health outcomes and promote healthy living in the community. Challenge funds will be used to provide the foundational healthcare equipment and supplies needed to support the 25 sophomores and 25 juniors recruited for the program.

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Philadelphia - Students Run Philly Style

Students Run Philly Style transforms students’ lives through running and mentorship, supporting Philadelphia high schoolers facing high levels of adversity. Challenge funds will support the development of an active recruitment strategy for the Community Outreach Program with a dedicated staff person focusing efforts on under-resourced schools.

“Empowering the communities that truly understand health disparities is the catalyst for true innovation in our work to advance health equity here at Johnson & Johnson,” says Howard Reid, Global Head, Global Health Equity and Social Impact at Johnson & Johnson. “We’re incredibly proud to uplift the voices of our five Health Equity Innovation Challenge programs and the innovative ways in which they are working to address health inequities in the communities they serve. These organizations are not only closing existing gaps in outcomes and care, but also moving the needle towards a healthier future for communities of color across the nation.”

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