A Mecklenburg County faith-based program that seeks to reduce health factors associated with heart disease and diabetes in African American and Latino communities has been picked to compete in a national challenge that could net the program up to $500,000.
Village HeartB.E.A.T. (Building Education and Accountability Together), which is run by the Mecklenburg County Health Department, was selected to compete in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge — a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.
As one of 50 organizations selected nationwide for the challenge, Village HeartB.E.A.T will receive $10,000 in seed money. It also will compete for a larger prize – up to $500,000 — that would help expand the Mecklenburg health initiative.
The challenge will award prize money totaling $1.5 million to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable progress toward health-related goals.
Village HeartB.E.A.T., which as started five years ago, works with more than 20 local churches to encourage exercise, proper nutrition, smoking cessions and overall health management. The churches compete, with 10-member teams, in categories including weight loss and overall participation.
Cheryl Emanuel, a Mecklenburg County senior health manager, credited the success of Village HeartB.E.A.T. to its countywide collaboration.
“Village Heart B.E.A.T wouldn’t be successful without the intentional partnership between local government public health and faith-based organizations and their commitment to being leaders in improving our community’s health,” she said in a statement. “Working together, we can save lives and build stronger, healthier communities.”
Each organization participating in the challenge will be visited by a panel of judges. Those that show the most measurable progress will be eligible for cash awards of $25,000 to $500,000.