Volunteers of America Launches New Incubator Program

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (February 22, 2022) –A first-of-its-kind social incubator to accelerate social enterprises that improve quality, equity and access to care for Medicaid and at-risk populations has just been launched by Volunteers of America (VOA), one of the nation’s largest and most experienced nonprofit housing, health and human service organizations. Sponsored by The Humana Foundation, the $1 million initiative aims to support early-stage entrepreneurship that develops innovative products and services for equitable community health outcomes.

Known as the Futures Fund Community Health Incubator, the program will comprise a mix of teams across the U.S. that include community health leaders from VOA Affiliates and three early-stage, mission-aligned founder teams. Each team will receive up to $25,000 in grants, as well as be considered for larger venture capital investments up to $200,000 upon completion of the program. Participants will receive business training and coaching from industry experts, including Incubator Director Paul Orlando, who serves as Director of the University of Southern California’s Incubator Program and is an adjunct professor for USC’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The Humana Foundation is committed to building innovative partnerships that advance health equity and remove barriers that keep individuals from achieving their best health. By supporting entrepreneurs through funding and coaching, communities will benefit in how they access and receive health care.

“We fully support Volunteers of America in leveraging their mission, scale and focus on entrepreneurship, to combat the huge inequities in underserved communities,” said Tiffany Benjamin, CEO of The Humana Foundation. “VOA is a trusted, solutions-oriented partner and for over a century, they’ve used their expertise and access to enable new businesses and services that address social determinants of health with a focus on equity.”

One of the most unique attributes of the incubator is its ability to leverage the experience, relationships and assets of VOA for the piloting and scaling of business ideas. These include more than 15,000 employees who serve approximately 1.5 million individuals each year in over 400 communities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, plus a portfolio of over 22,000 units of affordable housing and nearly 50 senior healthcare programs, including skilled nursing, assisted living and home health care.

“This provides an ideal platform for new ideas to mature, from big health tech like biometric wearable devices and monitoring apps, to local service industries and aquaponic farms that address food insecurity and employ individuals in workforce development programs,” said Stephen Samuels, VOA’s Vice-President of Innovation & Impact Investing.

The Community Health Incubator is now accepting applications from entrepreneurs whose innovative products and services can fill gaps in the community health delivery system. VOA is currently onboarding its first cohort of Affiliate teams, and recruiting strategic corporate partners wishing to support early-stage community health entrepreneurship. To apply to the Incubator, visit www.voa.org/community-health-incubator.

The Incubator’s Advisory Board includes:

  • Abbie Gilbert, Associate Director, Health & Advocacy, Humana
  • Christopher Thompson, Director, Corp. Strategies & Strategic Initiatives, Humana
  • Claire-Cecile Pierre, M.D., Associate Chief Medical Officer, VP of Community Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Gregory Downing, D.O., Ph.D., Founder, Innovation Horizons, LLC
  • Jordana Fremed, Director, Impact Investments, CapShift
  • Julia Ryan, Vice President, Health Initiatives | Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  • Lawrence Hendrix, Sr. Director, Warehousing & Logistics, Retail Operations, VOA Ohio & Indiana
  • Ravi Sharma, CEO/Founder, OOTify
  • Shayna Hetzel, Director, Community and Social Impact, American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

Since 2018, VOA – through its impact investing subsidiary Futures Fund – has invested more than $2 million in grants and loans to support new and expanding business lines in areas such as behavioral health, workforce development and food security.

About Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through hundreds of human service programs, including housing and health care, Volunteers of America helps more than 1.5 million people in over 400 communities. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit voa.org.

About The Humana Foundation

The Humana Foundation was established in 1981 as the philanthropic arm of Humana Inc., one of the nation’s leading health and well-being companies. Located in Louisville, Ky., the Foundation seeks to co-create communities where leadership, culture, and systems work to improve and sustain positive health outcomes. For more information, visit humanafoundation.org.

Humana and The Humana Foundation are dedicated to Corporate Social Responsibility. Our goal is to ensure that every business decision we make reflects our commitment to improving the health and well-being of our members, our employees, the communities we serve, and our planet.

Media Contacts:

David Burch, Senior Director, Communications, Volunteers of America, dburch@voa.org

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