Fostering Innovation for Healthier Communities: Key Takeaways from our Los Angeles Health Learning Tour

August 14, 2018

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Health learning tour
Touring Northgate González Market in Los Angeles, CA during Health Learning Tour.

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Allsteel
Touring the Allsteel Showroom

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Health learning tour
Touring local neighborhood market in Los Angeles.

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Health learning tour
The Chamber Foundation's Elyse Cohen kicks off the Health Learning Tour at the Allsteel Showroom in Los Angeles.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation knows that businesses can play a role in strengthening the health of communities and customers—even outside the four walls of their organization. Every day, companies are innovating to improve health domestically and around the globe. Knowing that the health of individuals and communities is inextricably linked to many other facets of a person’s environment is what fueled this year’s Health Learning Tour.

The quality of schools, housing, access to jobs, and neighborhoods can attribute to an individual’s health, which is why we hosted our annual Health Learning Tour in Los Angeles, California. The tour provided an opportunity to elevate and learn from businesses and community partners that are on the cutting edge of driving business and health—be it for their consumers, community, workforce, or all three. 

Leverage your assets, but think outside the box

It’s easy for a healthcare company to make the connection between business and health, but when companies are able to leverage their existing assets (think: products), as well as their role within a community (think: talent and financial resources), everybody wins. Communities become healthier, more resilient, and local economies prosper.

A great example was when the Martin Luther King Hospital lost its accreditation—individuals, foundations, and private sector companies like Disney, came together to build a new hospital  to ensure collaborative, quality care and improve the health of the South LA community.

Prioritize mental health and emotional well-being in the workplace

The United States is at a crossroads when it comes to how our society addresses mental health. Roughly one in five adults struggle with a mental health condition at any given point in time. The ripple effect of mental illness impacts families, professional communities, and corporate productivity.

Organizations such as the Born This Way Foundation, Well Being Trust, and Give an Hour are all working to reduce stigmas, increase education, and shift culture around mental health. The private sector is well positioned to provide opportunities that increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental health and emotional well-being in the work place.

Change happens when you break down silos

Change happens when diverse stakeholders come together to address complex societal challenges, and Los Angeles is no exception. The commitment to improving community health was evidenced by the cross-collaboration of organizations like the American Heart Association, the Los Angeles County of Public Health, the National Health Foundation, and private sector companies working collectively to address the specific health needs of “Angelenos”. Bringing nonprofits, local government, and the private sector together to leverage assets strengthens resources and maximizes impact.

Business and social good are not mutually exclusive

Sam Polk, co-founder of Everytable helped families struggling from food-related health problems in South LA, by combining his unique background as a hedge fund trader and founder of the nonprofit, Groceryships to create a model for a new company that would sell healthy food in “food deserts,” where average household incomes are $13,000, at prices competitive with fast food. 

Serial social entrepreneur Robert Egger didn’t set out to create just another nonprofit organization when he road-tested the model of L.A. Kitchen during his time as President of the DC Central Kitchen. He aimed to tackle some of our country’s most pressing societal challenges through job creation and a revenue generating business model. Both leaders are working tirelessly to tackle complex challenges and, every day they help us see that innovative business models can achieve both profit and purpose.

Interested in learning more about this year's Health Learning Tour? Check out our full agenda and list of speakers here.