2022 i2 Challenge Grant Awards Announced

Doubling Our i2 Investment for Community Change; Two community-grown and led San Diego organizations awarded $1 million each


San Diego, CA. January 5, 2023. Following a final pitch from five finalists, hours of deliberation and months of one-on-one coaching, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) board was faced with the question: “How can we accelerate the most good for our community, given the opportunities presented by five strong and deserving candidates?” Excitingly, the board made an unprecedented decision to double its investment for this funding cycle and award two $1 million milestone-based Innovation Initiative (i2) grants to both Project New Village and Urban Restoration Counseling Center, both based in San Diego. Each nonprofit organization will be supported with continued mentorship and incubation, and up to $1 million in milestone-based grants.

Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s mission is to advance health and wellness for the most marginalized communities in our region. With the Innovation Initiative (i2) Challenge Grant, the foundation seeks to close equity gaps and invest in transformative ideas that can achieve long-term, sustainable, positive community change.

“We don’t always get an opportunity to accelerate two incredible solutions that we feel will advance our mission meaningfully,” said Sarah Lyman, Executive Director, AHF. “By its very nature, the Innovation Initiative is high risk, high potential reward. We’ve had years in the past where it was more difficult to determine how $1 million would really move the needle with the various ideas presented. We’ve had other i2 cohorts – this being one of them – where the solutions proposed by the i2 finalists are so strong, we struggled to make a decision out of the recognition that more than one solution presented an opportunity to meaningfully advance our mission in significant ways. I’m thrilled that we made the decision to support two community-grown and led solutions that we hope will achieve scale and success for the communities they serve.”  

“This was a deeply rewarding experience, and we are so grateful to all the candidates for their clear passion and commitment to making the world a better place. A special note of gratitude also to the Resident Leaders who have been integral members of the evaluation panel throughout the process. Their experiences and knowledge added so much value to the process,” said Killu Sanborn, Alliance Board Trustee and Chairperson.

The 2022 i2 program is essentially an incubator program that includes 12-months of entrepreneurial education and customized mentoring through a partnership between AHF and global business accelerator, Nex Cubed. Based on relationships formed and progress made by the candidates during the program, there are clear pathways already identified to help move the awardees into the next phase of AHF i2 support.

2022 i2 Challenge Grant Awardees

diane moss- photo source: san diego union tribune

Project New Village – This project is a manifestation of decades of community organizing. Truly, a long-held vision and resident-led, community-rooted project that will become a centralized hub in a disinvested community for supporting wellness and resiliency through:

  • healthy food access in a food desert
  • equitable food purchasing and distribution chain so local, “Black Indigenous People of Color” (BIPOC) growers can earn income and build wealth
  • a tangible community asset in the form of a safe, thriving, community gathering place with community-aligned tenants and partnerships

“The news of the AHF Challenge grant decision has given me a new sense of empowerment, authority, and inspiration!  In the words of songwriters: Gene Mcfadden and John Whitehead, ‘Ain’t no stoppin’ us now, we are on the move…,” says Diane Moss, Managing Director, Project New Village.

Therapy for All banner with diverse set of faces

Urban Restoration Counseling (URCC) – A community-led organization that provides mental health services to people of color by people of color. In addition to facilitating intergenerational healing through mental health support to severely underserved populations, URCC also recruits and trains the next generation of mental health clinicians from underrepresented groups. URCC’s Therapy for All model of care and training creates space for ALL people to access care and treatment at no charge, or on an accessible sliding-scale basis.

Our communities are in crisis as it relates to mental health access and demand for intergenerational healing. The need URCC is addressing is immense, and the depth of individual impact and its ripple effects through family and community has the potential to be transformative and intergenerational.

“We are thankful and excited to be chosen as a recipient of Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s Innovation Initiative Challenge Grant. Thank you for sharing our commitment to disrupting the cycle of intergenerational trauma in communities of color,” stated the URCC Executive Team

More about the 2022 i2 Challenge

The i2 annual challenge was updated for 2022 from a six-month education and pitch cycle into a 12-month coaching and entrepreneurial education journey that began in January 2022 with a public announcement of the challenge.  Once 25 organizations had been selected, the i2 program was coupled with capacity grant funding to each competing organization throughout each phase of the program in support of the time and commitment being invested by the teams.

From a group of more than 60 proposals, 25 organizations were chosen to enter the i2 educational cycle—a guided program coordinated by Innovation Partner Nex Cubed. After presenting early business models in April, ten organizations were selected to continue their i2 journey and work on validating their solution with customers and partners to demonstrate early traction and product-market fit. In June, the ten organizations gave in-person presentations to AHF committee members, community resident leaders and Nex Cubed, from which five finalists were selected for the final phase. Over the remaining six months of the i2 journey, the finalists received grant funding from AHF as well as customized one-on-one coaching from Nex Cubed advisors who had been thoughtfully matched to each finalist.

“We are impressed with the work and progress each of the finalists has made. Along the way, some of them pivoted their business model for greater impact and success, and some discovered new ways to think bigger in terms of scale and sustainability,” said Nick Phillips, i2 Program Director, Nex Cubed.

On December 14, 2022, the finalists gave in-person 15-minute pitches followed by 30-minutes of discussion with the panel of evaluators, including AHF Board of Trustees, Community Resident Leaders, and AHF Staff.  While two winners were ultimately selected, AHF intends to find other ways to support all five candidates in their growth and development.

2022 i2 Finalists

  • Kitchens for Good. Building an alternative staffing enterprise, WORKS, to fight economic inequality. The enterprise is committed to providing living wages, health benefits, savings plans, and support services to job seekers who face barriers to employment.
  • Project New Village. Bringing food justice to southeastern San Diego through the development of a Village community hub to connect communities to healthy, locally-sourced food at accessible locations.
  • Urban Restoration Counseling Center. Providing mental health services to people of color by people of color in support of ending intergenerational trauma.
  • Welfie. Bringing generational health to marginalized communities through a health equity platform that delivers health education and care coordination to families on Medicaid and to underserved communities of color.
  • Youth Empowerment San Diego. Applying a lived-experience lens in a Trauma-Informed Care Code of Conduct training program for professionals working with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated

The Innovation Initiative (i2) funding program had its beginning in 2010 when the Alliance Healthcare Foundation recognized it must inspire innovation to meet its mission. It was clear that poor outcomes coupled with increasing amount of dollars flowing to “sick care” systems was becoming an ever-larger portion of the country’s GDP and therefore unsustainable. The i2 initiative is based on the thesis that innovation capital is needed to transform this high-cost, poor-outcomes paradigm.

“Our commitment to progress calls us to be bold,” said Sanborn, “Today a significant portion of our budget is deployed towards seeking, seeding, and scaling innovation. In our view, innovations must reduce costs, improve quality, and increase access to health and wellness with an emphasis on our most marginalized communities.”

# # # # #

About the Innovation Initiative (i2). The i2 Innovation funding challenge seeks market-based and/or transformational systems-change solutions with the potential to improve access, quality and health outcomes; increase capacity; reduce costs for the most systemically marginalized and under-resourced populations in San Diego and/or Imperial counties.

About Alliance Healthcare Foundation. We work to advance health and wellness for the most vulnerable in San Diego and Imperial counties through collaborative funding, convening and advocacy.

About Nex Cubed (2022 i2 Innovation Partner). Nex Cubed is a global accelerator that invests in diverse founders that are solving problems that matter. We provide early-stage capital, corporate relationships, and access to a global ecosystem that empowers startups, investors, corporates, and governments to bring new technologies to market, help rising companies scale, and provide paths to liquidity – the power of three.

 Contact: Karen Winston,

Share This