Addressing Health Disparities in Underserved Communities: AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Rich Buckley, President

 AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation


The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, which is a separate non-profit entity of ACCP member AstraZeneca, recently awarded over $1 million to nine community-based organizations working to improve heart health. The grants are part of the Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM Next Generation program that launched this year and builds on the Foundation’s Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program and 10 years of lessons learned. ACCP recently spoke with Rich Buckley, president of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, to learn more about this important  program.

Can you tell us more about the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM program?

The Foundation launched Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) over a decade ago with the goal of funding innovative, community-based programs to help improve heart health in the United States. Most recently, we launched the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM Next Generation program and are focusing on reaching new communities, providing funding for areas of the country with the greatest need.

Why did the Foundation focus on cardiovascular health in particular?

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in our country and the Foundation created this program to support organizations and initiatives where we believe we could help make a lasting change in heart health.

Can you tell us a little bit about some of the nine organizations who are receiving this funding?

The nine organizations awarded grants include clinics, a federally-qualified health center and traditional community-based nonprofits. Each has a unique approach to addressing heart health needs, like the charitable pharmacy dispensing healthy food as medicine while providing medication, or the coalition of safety-net health and social service providers leveraging trained wellness navigators for case management and disease education.

How are these grants addressing health disparities in underserved populations?

The grants fund programs that are helping to improve cardiovascular disease and reduce barriers to care for economically, socially, and environmentally disadvantaged populations in underserved areas using tailored approaches that meet the needs and culture of their communities.

What kind of successes have you seen from previous Grant Awardees?

More than 1.7 million people have been reached and over 65,000 people have had their progress toward improved heart health tracked, with participants making lifestyle changes that help lead to improved cardiovascular health.

The collective efforts of our Grant Awardees and their work to build capacity for their organizations and programs have helped support the overall success of the CCH program. Our communications, dissemination, and sustainability efforts have resulted in increased awareness of Grant Awardee programs, with over 60 conference presentations and more than 10 program toolkits developed to share lessons learned.

Speaking of lessons learned, what have you learned working on this program? Any best practices to share with companies looking to put together similar programs?

The last decade provided us with outcomes and learnings that led to the development of two resources: our Effective Program Practices Guide and  Dissemination & Communications Guide.  Both resources are available to help organizations in developing similar programming and learning about awareness and sharing lessons learned.

How are you measuring impact from this grant? What particular impacts are you measuring?

We have a rigorous reporting and evaluation process with Grant Awardees providing program reports to our outside evaluation partners who assess each program’s progress against the goals and objectives identified in its application, including the number of participants reached and tracked, outcomes and sustainability efforts.

Has your funding around health changed following COVID-19? If so, how?

We remain committed to funding heart health programs and have expanded our flexibility during the pandemic so awardees can manage funds as necessary to best support their communities.

ACCP appreciates Rich Buckley’s participation, and the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation’s continued work in our communities.

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