Houston Social Entrepreneurs receive funds to provide health care access, resources

The American Heart Association, BNSF Railway Foundation infuse $420,000 to Houston-area organizations to improve health inequities

HOUSTON, April 25, 2024 — The American Heart Association, celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service, distributed $420,000 from its Social Impact Funds to three local social enterprises across the Houston metropolitan area as part of its continuing efforts to sustainably address and positively impact social drivers of health. A $1.5 million contribution from the BNSF Railway Foundation supported this first-ever disbursement to local Houston entrepreneurs from the Association’s Social Impact Funds:

  • Betterleave is a digital health platform partnering with organizations to centralize bereavement care in the workplace in order to improve access, experience and outcomes for collaborative care and clinical mental health services. Dealing with the death of a loved one is a major stressor which can negatively impact sleep schedules, exercise habits, diet and smoking status – all risk factors for heart disease.
  • ProUnitas is a technology platform working with Title I schools to develop systems that address basic needs spanning the social drivers of health. By connecting students to the resources they might need, all children can benefit from a more equitable chance to reach their full potential.
  • NextOp connects veterans and military members to career opportunities helping them bridge the gap between military service and applying their diverse skills and talents to private industry seeking diverse and skilled talent. Veterans often have difficulty translating and transferring the skills gained during their military service to the private sector which can, in turn, lead to underemployment.

“For entrepreneurs and small businesses, a lack of funding can hinder success and growth,” said Heather Butscher, vice president of community impact for the American Heart Association in Houston. “The Social Impact Funds provide critical funding to empower community-led organizations to create scalable solutions in the hope that every person has the same opportunity for a full, healthy life.”

This multi-year financial support established the BNSF Railway Fund which has committed to fund additional opportunities across Southeast Texas through 2025.

“The enterprises supported by the American Heart Association Social Impact Funds reflect the innovation and creativity needed to reduce barriers to health equity and improve the quality of life in local communities,” said Zak Andersen, president of the BNSF Railway Foundation. “The BNSF Railway Fund is committed to ensuring communities thrive and we look forward to seeing these organizations, and others across Southeast Texas, accelerate their work through this infusion of support.”

Since 2018, the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Funds, including the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund, have provided financial support to more than 130 for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises addressing key social drivers of health across the country. The Social Impact Funds invest in organizations that seek to positively address health equity, access to high quality health care, food insecurity and economic empowerment, all factors that can deeply impact cardiovascular health. The Social Impact Funds provide capital to assist emerging businesses to achieve sustainability, scale and spread locally and nationally.


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 – our Centennial year – we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact, our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.