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Funded by Penn Medicine, the Fund for Health plans to invest $5 million over the next 3 years.

Credit: Avi Singh

Penn Medicine and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative are partnering to launch a $5 million investment for early-stage businesses aiming to solve social problems affecting the health of low-income Philadelphians.

The partnership, or the Fund for Health, is designed to solve social problems that act as social determinants of health, such as economic instability and inadequate education. The Fund for Health plans to invest $5 million over the next 3 years and is expected to invest in up to 10 companies per year. Social determinants of health can explain why some populations often suffer from poorer health compared to those who do not experience the same conditions.

3 companies will be receiving a total of $750,000 in the first round of funding: Kinvolved, a company that is developing communications software to reduce absenteeism in underserved schools; Uptrust, a company striving to keep people out of the criminal justice system by avoiding technical violations of the law, like missing court dates or probation appointments; and RecoveryLink, a company that provides a telehealth platform and electronic recovery support services to people experiencing substance use and mental health disorders.

According to Penn Medicine News, the selection process begins with an investment team of students from Wharton and Penn Medicine, who are tasked with identifying and researching early-stage for-profit companies that aim to strengthen the social determinants of health. 

The Fund for Health’s investment committee, which consists of Wharton staff, University of Pennsylvania Health System staff, and other experts, will then choose which companies will receive $100,000 to $250,000. 

The selections are based on assessments of each company’s potential health impact and financial performance. Companies may be based in Philadelphia or located outside the region, but they must offer goods, services, and operations that positively impact Philadelphia residents, Penn Medicine News reported.