July 24, 2019

Telemedicine for the homeless and exercise app both help vulnerable populations

San Diego, CA. July 24, 2019. Following a final pitch from six finalists and hours of deliberation, the Alliance Healthcare Foundation board selected Docfully and Vizer as co-winners, each to receive up to $500,000 of the 2019 $1 million health Innovation Initiative (i2). Through telemedicine, Docfully brings health providers to homeless people in shelters and places where food is distributed where they can most safely retain their belongings. Vizer uses a personal health app that incentivizes both fitness and altruism by providing meals and other donations to vulnerable people.

The i2 competition challenges competitors to identify sustainable breakthroughs in health and wellness.

“We looked for proposals with the clearest potential to prevent long term chronic health conditions and social barriers to wellness for our target population, coupled with the most promising viable pathway to a sustainable and scalable business model,” said newly appointed Alliance Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Sarah Lyman. “The competition was intense, and, in the end, there was no clear winner. Docfully and Vizer both demonstrated clear potential for success. As a result, we split the prize between them.”

For most of the homeless population, access to healthcare is through the emergency room, where prevention and patient-centered holistic care is both absent and very expensive. Docfully seeks to establish regular and preventative healthcare services to the homeless through telemedicine-enabled pop-up clinics at homeless feeding places (shelters or feeding sites where no clinic exists). These locations are also often perceived by the homeless as places where they can safely retain their belongings while receiving care.

One in five San Diegans are considered obese according to Vizer, and the organization recognizes that two populations have unhealthy practices that lead to obesity. Economically stable populations often find themselves too busy working to exercise or to eat nutritious meals. Vulnerable populations often don’t have the resources to maintain a nutritious diet. Vizer has created a sponsored phone app that creates exercise goals for the economically stable. If they meet those goals, meals are donated to vulnerable people—initially thru food banks and schools, and they are personally rewarded by receiving free meals at restaurants that promote healthy eating.

The i2 annual competition is a six-month process that began on January 30 with a public funding forum to announce the competition and bring together and inform potential proposers. From a group of more than 100 proposers, 25 semifinalists were chosen. On May 9, these semi-finalists came together to give three-minute pitches before a panel of distinguished judges from which the 2019 co-winners and the other four finalists emerged (listed below).

Brain Leap Technologies
2019 FinalistBrainleap Technologies, uses eye tracking technology to promote attention, focus and academic outcomes for kids with autism and ADHD.
Care To Caregiver
2019 FinalistCare To Caregiver (The United Foundation), reinvents care coordination by educating and empowering family caregivers, the unsung home-provider heroes.
University of San Diego
2019 FinalistPolaris (University of San Diego), establishes a novel care center at the Monarch School combining social, mental and healthcare services for homeless youth and their families.
Urban Street Angels
2019 FinalistUrban Street Angels, uses mobile phones and smart-matching to connect homeless youth to individualized social and mental health services.

Beginning with the selection of the semi-finalists, competitors participated in a series of almost weekly sessions, led by Ricardo dos Santos, Alliance’s i2 Journey Guide and the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at ResMed Strategy & Ventures. These sessions provided social enterprise and pitch training in preparation for the May 9 semi-finals and the July 19, 2019, finals.

The i2 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 healthcare were 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.

“Our commitment to progress calls us to be bold,” said Alliance Board Trustee Elizabeth Dreicer. “Today half 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 vulnerable. Alliance Healthcare Foundation has recently opened an Alliance Innovation Fund at the San Diego Foundation to enable other foundations and philanthropists to join us.”




Alliance Healthcare Foundation
i2 Innovation Initiative Funding Challenge 2019

The Largest Private Prize Competition in the U.S. for Health and Wellness

About the Challenge. The i2 Innovation funding challenge seeks the best and most promising innovations to advance health and wellness in vulnerable populations in San Diego and/or Imperial counties by reducing cost and poor outcomes and improving quality and increasing capacity.


  • Innovators with transformative ideas
  • Leaders of existing or new social enterprises (Social enterprises are defined as a nonprofit 501(c)3, B Corp, or for-profit that advance health and wellness of those in need.)
  • The innovation must initially target populations in need within San Diego and/or Imperial counties.

Process. Beginning with a funding forum on January 30, 2019, more than 100 applicants were reduced to 25 semifinalists who competed in a QuickPitch on May 9, 2019. By the time the six finalists make their pitches on July 19, 2019 they will have completed six-months of trainings in developing a sustainable social enterprise, pitching, financial planning, and impact analysis and reporting. AHF also works with the winning organization to develop their innovation, often for many years following award, to help ensure that the innovation achieves its potential.

History. The i2 program had its beginning in 2010 when the Alliance Healthcare Foundation (Foundation) recognized it must inspire innovation to meet its mission as the poor outcomes coupled with increasing amount of dollars flowing to healthcare were becoming an ever-larger portion of the country’s GDP and therefore unsustainable. The Foundation’s i2 Innovation Initiative is based on the thesis that innovation capital (often high risk, high reward) is needed to transform the current paradigm (high cost and poor outcomes).

As a result of this nearly decade-long effort, the Foundation has established a track record of sourcing, funding and developing scalable social enterprise innovations through the i2 Innovation Initiative. First launched in 2010, the i2 program has awarded $12 million to innovative organizations, including follow-up investment. Past winners include:

2018Multicultural Health Foundation’s Prevention Alliance, ($1M). An alliance of ethnic community organizations that collectively enable access to insurance payments for non-clinical community coaches to lift their community’s health and wellness.

2017Somali Family Services, ($1M). A medical education content provider designed to increase immunization rates in the Somali community and beyond.

2016Interfaith Community Service’s Recovery and Wellness Center, ($1M). A place for homeless and at-risk individuals to recuperate following surgical procedures, detox and step-down mental health.

2015Mental Health Systems, in partnership with North Inland Mental Health Clinic ($75K). A place where patients with serious mental illness receive a flipped model of care centered around their mental health needs with physical health wrapped around.

2014Solutions for Change, Solutions Farms ($880K grant + $900K loan). A living and educational campus for previously homeless families with a social enterprise aquaponic farm providing work experience and fresh produce for family residents and the community, including local schools.

2013Access Youth Academy, ($550K). An urban squash and academic youth mentorship program designed to promote college education and lift the health and wellbeing of low-income neighborhoods thru participating youth’s network effect on family, friends and neighbors.

2012UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic, Wireless Observed Therapy in partnership with Proteus, ($1M). Research and implementing digital medicine (chip inside pill that confirms medicine has been taken) reduces direct observed therapy increases cure rates (initially TB) while decreasing burden on patients, overall system costs and risk to public health.

2011211 San DiegoCommunity Information Exchange (CIE), ($4.5M since 2011). A community wide person-centered database to enable coordinated health and social services care for the most vulnerable.

2010Champions for Health, in partnership with Voxiva (now Wellpass), Text4Baby, ($440K). Text-based messaging targeted initially at high-risk moms to support mom and baby health during pregnancy and after.

2010Social Interest Solutions, One-e-App ($1.05M). A comprehensive software service designed to reduce hassles for families and individuals (and supporting service providers) checking eligibility and applying for multiple health, social service and other support programs.

An exemplar past i2 winner demonstrates the power of Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s strategy—Text4Baby. This interactive text service matches messages to pregnancy term and is designed to support mom and baby health during pregnancy and after. Initially targeted at high-risk moms and developed in partnership with Champions for Health and Voxiva (now owned by Wellpass), Alliance Healthcare Foundation’s seed investment funded key development and evaluation and contributed to the now well over 1 million moms that have used the Text4Baby service yielding $1 billion in value to society thru increased health of moms and babies.

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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.

We believe wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual, economic and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Society, 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. Individuals need information and support to make positive choices for a more successful existence.

We currently operate a portfolio of five programs:

  1. i2 Innovation Initiative — also referred to as “venture philanthropy”—based on the thesis that innovation capital (often high risk, high reward) is needed to transform the current paradigm (high cost and poor outcomes) and improve quality, increase capacity and reduce costs;
  2. Mission Support—based on the belief that trusting those closest to our constituents and providing core operating support for great organizations will best advance our mission;
  3. Responsive Funding—based on the belief that it is important to be responsive to time-sensitive community needs and opportunities;
  4. InvestUp—based on the belief that it is important to actively and strategically be looking for ways to meaningfully advance our mission and it is worth spending some or all of our corpus—beyond the earnings off of our endowment—if we can substantively, sustainably and positively change the dynamics; and
  5. Impact Investments–based on the thesis that we can activate our investment portfolio to achieve more positive impact.

Our History. In 1982, the San Diego Community Healthcare Alliance (Alliance) created the first Preferred Provider Organization/Network (PPO) in the United States. From 1989 through 1994, the Alliance funded Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) through profits from its Community Care Network (CCN) operations. In 1994, Alliance sold CCN to a national healthcare company and channeled the proceeds from CCN’s sale into an endowment of $83 million for AHF. That endowment has enabled funding of approximately $64 million (USD) in direct funding and approximately $41 million (USD) from national and local funding partners in San Diego and Imperial counties. Our endowment holds approximately $80 million in assets today, with funding for programs and operations derived from endowment investment earnings.

AHF Media contact:
Carl Nettleton, Nettleton Strategies
P 858-353-5489 E carl@nettstrategies.com

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