June 8, 2023

AHF + Nex Cubed i2 Partnership Story

We recently collaborated with AHF Innovation Initiative (i2) partner Nex Cubed to create a video describing our partnership and the experience from the perspectives of the two 2022 i2 awardees: Project New Village and Urban Restoration Counseling Center. We also recruited two of our i2 Resident Leaders to add their impressions of the i2 experience. Watch the video, to learn how AHF and Nex Cubed collaborated on the 2022 i2 Journey.

i2 video screen shotWithin philanthropy, the AHF Innovation Initiative (i2) $1 Million Milestone-based Challenge Grant is unique in its purpose, process, and potential.

Through the i2 funding program, AHF seeks market-based and/or transformational systems-change solutions with the potential to improve access, quality and health outcomes, including increasing capacity and reducing costs for the most systemically marginalized and under-resourced populations in San Diego and/or Imperial counties.

The 2022 Innovation Initiative was a 12-month capacity building and mentorship program in partnership with Nex Cubed, a global business accelerator, culminating with a final pitch from five finalists in December and a surprise announcement by AHF’s board of trustees who decided to double the $1 million investment and award two finalists, each with a $1 million milestone-based grant: Project New Village and Urban Restoration Counseling Center.

We believe that solving our most intractable health and wellness challenges requires innovative, transformative, and sustainable solutions. Our overarching purpose is to support the awardees of the i2 Challenge Grant as they go on to secure additional funding, scale their solution for maximum benefit for their focus population, and become self-sustainable.

Over the 12-month coaching and mentoring i2 journey, deep relationships with the final applicants get formed which results in long-lasting partnerships. During the last 13 years in which AHF has been running the i2 Challenge Grant, we have remained in close advisory and support roles to most of the awardees in varying degrees, based on the transformational challenges they face.

For example, 2-1-1 San Diego’s Community Information Exchange (CIE), 2011 i2 awardee, has been able to create a county-wide information sharing and coordinated cross-sector, care partner network that now serves as a national model for coordinating person-centered services among community, health, social and disaster services. Since 2011 when AHF provided the seed-funding through i2, CIE has faced growth challenges and has pivoted its strategies like most startup businesses. All along the way, AHF has been available as an anchor funder, advisor and supporter of its potential to achieve health equity through access to services. Today, CIE provides data infrastructure resources to other CIEs in formation and continues to grow its San Diego care provider network of 132+ partners.

Overall, the Innovation Initiative (i2) Challenge Grant seeks to support transformational solutions that:

  • focus on root cause solutions rather than simply addressing symptoms
  • have a clear market-based or systems-change sustainability plan that is not reliant on ongoing grants or philanthropic fundraising when scaled
  • involve those closest to the social problem in determining the solution
  • directly address health disparities through an explicit equity lens

This is a tall order given the seemingly intractability of many of today’s issues, including high-cost healthcare, affordable housing, homelessness, food insecurity, climate, and mental illness.

Achieving potential is a slow and oftentimes messy process. Which is why we also refer to i2 funding as “patient capital.” One of the most efficient ways we can support population health and wellness improvement is by helping innovations succeed, scale, and achieve sustainability. And, this takes time. We think it’s worth the risk and invite other funders to join us.

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