The American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, is funding local businesses and nonprofits that are working to sustainably address health disparities in Reading, Pennsylvania through its Social Impact Fund.

The $1 million fund, made available through a donation by the FirstEnergy Foundation, will be distributed through a series of multiple funding opportunities to be made available across FirstEnergy’s service area over the course of four years.

The FirstEnergy Foundation has chosen Reading as the first community where funds will be distributed. The American Heart Association Social Impact Fund provides targeted financial grants and low-interest loans to qualified organizations that deliver evidence-based, community-driven entrepreneurial solutions to local health equity challenges.

Local businesses and organizations working to address economic empowerment, healthy food access, housing, recidivism, access to quality healthcare, transportation and educational opportunities are invited to submit formal expressions of interest for funding at https://heart-impactfund.fluxx.io/ through Friday, March 5.

A virtual informational “town hall” event will be held on Wednesday, February 24, from 10-11 a.m. ET where community members will discuss local challenges and opportunities related to health equity in Reading with American Heart Association staff to ensure available funds can be targeted to address the greatest local need.

Those interested in joining the online town hall discussion may register at bit.ly/AHAReadingTownHall.

“For many entrepreneurs and local startups, lack of access to immediate and substantial funding are barriers to their success and growth,” said Ashley Schade, regional vice president for the American Heart Association.

“Through the Social Impact Fund, we hope to empower social entrepreneurs to launch sustainable solutions to improve the health of people in Reading where it is needed most. The funding can help them scale their businesses quickly while making a positive impact on their community.”

“As the American Heart Association continues to drive awareness and change around public health issues, the FirstEnergy Foundation is excited for the opportunity to share in those efforts with a significant gift for the Social Impact Fund,” said Lorna Wisham, President, FirstEnergy Foundation.

“This collaboration builds upon the Foundation’s longstanding work with American Heart Association and aligns with our focus on generating measurable and lasting impact in underserved communities. Over the next four years, it is our hope to transform the lives of families and create healthier and more vibrant communities across our footprint.”

Since its launch, the American Heart Association Social Impact Fund has supported entrepreneurs and nonprofits in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Mich., Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Oakland, Calif., San Francisco, San Jose and Washington, DC.

This article is also available in: Español (Spanish)