AHA Heart and Torch logoAmerican Heart Association

EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator™ – Oregon and SW Washington

Seeking sustainable business solutions that overcome social determinants of health.
Woman Shaking Hands

Join us on Thursday, September 30th for the live finale event. Register to watch on Zoom.

Introducing the 2021 Slate of Candidates

Voting is open from September 16 to September 30. The voting will end on Sept 30, 2021 at 12 p.m. PST.

If you’re 18 or older and have a valid email address, you can cast a vote for your favorite finalist once every 24 hours. If you try to vote more often or with multiple email addresses, your votes could be removed. Thank you for helping us make this a fair event.

Click on each candidate’s photo for more information and shareable links to encourage others to vote for your favorite.

If you don’t see a confirmation email in your inbox right away, pleas check your junk email folder. If you are using a Microsoft Outlook mail account, your confirmation email may get delayed. Click here for more information.



You must be 18 or older to vote. You can vote one time per day using one email address. If you try to vote more often or with multiple email addresses, your votes could be removed. Thank you for helping us make this a fair event.

Host and Judges


Group of women working on a project

What is the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator – Oregon and SW Washington?

The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator – Oregon and SW Washington will support local women entrepreneurs, often an underfunded group, who are creating sustainable business solutions that overcome social determinants of health.

The environmental and social factors in which people are born, grow, live, work and age include lack of access to healthy food, quality education and health care, employment, and housing.

Who can apply?

Applicants must be:

  • Women entrepreneurs or innovators
  • Age 18 or older
  • Living in and/or serving communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington (Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Skamania counties)

All applicants can receive business training from the YWCA Small Business Development Center.

Timeline

  • June 1-July 30 at 12 p.m. PST Applications accepted
  • Aug. 6 Finalists confirmed
  • Aug. 11-Sept. 8 Training conducted
  • Sept. 16-30 Fan Voting
  • Sept. 30 Business storytelling presentation by finalists and grant recipients announced
  • Oct. 13 Grant recipients featured at the Portland Go Red for Women®
  • Oct. 21 First place Oregon and Southwest SW Washington candidate presents at the National Business Accelerator

What do selected candidates finalists receive?

  • Four-week, MBA-style business training leading up to the Business Accelerator storytelling finale.
  • Finalists will present their business concepts to a panel of local community innovators, entrepreneurs, health experts and business leaders in September.
  • The first-place winner will receive a $75,000 grant; second $30,000; and the fan favorite voted on by the public $15,000.
  • The first place grant recipient will advance to the National Business Accelerator for a chance to receive additional funding, continue to refine their business story and expand their network of support.
  • The Business Accelerator program and first-place winner will be featured at the Portland Go Red for Women® event on Oct. 13.

Brandi Prichet Johnson

Whats the difference between a pitch competition and a business storytelling event ?

To make a pitch, you have to get in the room first. A strong business story gets you into the room so that you can do the big pitch. That’s what the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator provides for new to seasoned entrepreneurs.

The business story builds the connections and trust to get to the pitch (“Why should I trust you?”). It focuses on the mission and impact and why you’re the person to lead.

Portland Oregon Sign

Why Oregon and Southwest Washington?

We’re one of the most outdoorsy and active areas in the country. Yet, it doesn’t correlate to our health outcomes.

A person’s ability to live healthy and access quality, affordable health care is limited by socioeconomic factors such as structural racism and disparities in social determinants of health such as healthy food, quality education, income, mobility and housing.

Differences in life expectancy vary starkly from one neighborhood to another. But we’re well-poised to unite and empower local women entrepreneurs who are addressing these issues. Through the EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator, we’ll team with local innovators to change the trajectory of health and well-being in Oregon and Southwest Washington — and beyond.

Who provides the grant funding?

The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation generously funded a grant for EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator – Oregon and Southwest Washington.

“The Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation is thrilled to support the American Heart Association’s EmPOWERED Business Accelerator,” said Sally Bany, foundation co-founder. “This program will empower female entrepreneurs and ultimately allow innovative ideas into under-resourced communities. We are excited to empower women in presenting, developing and proposing their health and wellness business plans during this competition.”

Established by Dave and Sally Bany in 1998, the foundation supports nonprofit organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest, focusing on programs that support education, mentorship, arts and creativity, and health and well-being. Sally named the foundation to honor her grandmother.

For more information, please visit marielamfrom.org.