July 26, 2022

Alliance Healthcare Foundation Selects Five Finalists Competing for $1 Million Challenge Grant

Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has selected five finalists who will compete for the foundation’s 2022 $1 Million Innovation Initiative (i2) milestone-based challenge grant. These finalists were chosen from a group of 10 semifinalists, following eight weeks of workshops and mentoring, and a hybrid virtual/in-person pitch event on July 13 which included a panel of 17 evaluators, comprised of community residents, AHF Program Committee members and AHF staff.

“It has been so inspiring to meet so many passionate, committed social entrepreneurs who are dedicating time, talent and treasure to address some of the most challenging racial and social inequities in our community,” said Alliance Healthcare Foundation Executive Director, Sarah Lyman. “With our $1 million innovation challenge grant, we aim to support a highly promising innovation that is working toward closing equity gaps within our region. Our hope is that through the i2 process, all finalists will be able to significantly advance their solution through access to customized mentorship, grant funding and other support along the way.”

The top five finalists selected are serving some of the most marginalized populations in our region, and are all working to directly address significant racial and social inequities. Populations served include the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and refugees, youth, communities of color, and communities experiencing challenges with food insecurity, access to quality jobs, trauma, and accessible mental health services.

After presentations and discussion with the 10 semifinalists, followed by thoughtful deliberation, Alliance Healthcare Foundation has accepted these five finalists into the final phase of the challenge:

logo: kitchens for good


Kitchens for Good. Bridges the gap between job seekers often excluded from the workforce and San Diego’s hospitality sector through WORKS, a new alternative staffing enterprise.


logo: project new village


Project New Village. Aims to revitalize and transform the food supply system of Greater Southeastern San Diego through a community food hub.


logo: urban restoration counseling center


Urban Restoration Counseling Center. With a mission to reduce multi-generational trauma, Urban Restoration provides mental health services to people of color by people of color.


logo: welfie

Welfie. With a focus on under-resourced youth and families on Medicaid, Welfie provides a health equity platform that delivers health education and care coordination.



logo: youth empowerment sd

Youth Empowerment San Diego.Through its trauma informed care code of conduct, Youth Empowerment strives to enable organizations across the nation to be effective at understanding trauma and positively impacting and influencing individuals who have been marginalized throughout their lives.


The i2 Challenge Grant runs 12-months and includes three phases of increasingly rigorous entrepreneurial education, solution refinement and pitch practice, culminating in a final pitch event before a panel of judges in December 2022. Along the i2 journey, candidates compete to continue on to each next phase of the challenge until there are five remaining candidates for the final pitch. In addition to customized mentorship from i2 partner Nex Cubed, candidates are also provided grant support at each phase–$1,000 for the top 25; $10,000 for the top 10, and $20,000 for the five finalists. The 2022 i2 $1M Challenge Grant awardee will be announced in January 2023.

Guiding and mentoring the i2 candidates along the i2 journey, is innovation partner Nex Cubed. “During Phase 2, Nex Cubed had an opportunity to work hand in hand with each of the companies to refine their product-market fit and prepare the teams for the finalist pitches. Supporting the noble missions and visions of each of the teams has been extremely rewarding thus far. We look forward to continuing to work with this distinguished group of founders throughout Phase 3 of their i2 journey,” said Nex Cubed CEO, Marlon Evans.

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About the i2 Innovation Initiative. Since 2010, AHF has funded more than $12 million through the Innovation Initiative (i2) in support of promising new innovations aimed at transforming the current health paradigm of high cost and poor outcomes to improve access, quality and health outcomes for the most marginalized and under-resourced populations in San Diego and/or Imperial counties. Normally held annually, there was no i2 Challenge in 2020/2021 due to COVID-19 and the emergency needs for response and relief funding. For a list of past i2 awardees, visit here.

About the 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.

We believe all people have a desire and a basic human right, to be well.

We define wellness as a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual, economic and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Society, structural systems, community, neighborhood, and family are collectively responsible for creating an environment of health and wellness. Wellness is personal and is not the same for everyone.

Health equity exists only when people can attain their full health potential, regardless of resources, circumstance, skin color or identity. This potential can only be reached when we reduce – and ultimately eliminate –the disparities that adversely impact marginalized and under-resourced communities. Learn more at alliancehf.org.

About Nex Cubed, i2 Innovation Partner. Nex Cubed is an innovation partner and investor that empowers startups, investors, corporations, and governments to bring new technologies to market; help rising companies scale, and provide paths to liquidity – the power of three. Nex Cubed is at the center of innovation, serving as the connective tissue between entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, and corporations.

The San Diego office of Nex Cubed specializes in digital health and healthcare. With approximately 80 healthcare industry advisors and 50 healthcare mentors, i2 applicants will have access to some of the region’s top professionals. Additionally, Nex Cubed was recently named one of the 10 Best Healthcare Accelerators in the world. Learn more at https://nex3.com/.



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