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Funding allows Meharry to rapidly address workforce diversity, economic inequity, and COVID-19 recovery in Middle Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 3, 2021) – Meharry Medical College today announced the receipt of a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to expand ResilienSEED, a business incubator established by and housed in Meharry’s Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health that is focused on improving socioeconomic disparities in underserved communities through innovation and entrepreneurship. 


ResilienSEED allows minorities and vulnerable populations of diverse backgrounds and experiences the opportunity to build community (mentors, peers, partners), hone business ideas, gain skills and career development training, and get connected with critical and often difficult-to-access investment capital. The Center’s work, through ResilienSEED and other programming, is dedicated to understanding how social conditions create barriers to achieving health equity and prosperous wellbeing, then establishing actionable programming that catalyzes a pendulum of change.


“The pandemic stunted growth and entrepreneurial opportunities for many Black and minority-owned businesses already struggling to maintain economic stability over the last year,” said Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. “With additional funding, we can jumpstart our Center’s work to generate new avenues for business ideas that will ultimately amplify informed decisions dedicated to examining social factors that influence public health and wellbeing.


ResilienSEED was one of 44 winners of the national EDA competition, Scaling Pandemic Resilience through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge. The SPRINT Challenge funds projects that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic through regional innovation and supports the growth of scalable, technology-driven businesses. Meharry’s program is supported by Microsoft’s AI for Health philanthropic program via cloud computing resources.


“A myriad of health disparities are rooted in longstanding economic disparities and other social determinants of health (SDOHs), especially apparent within communities of color. The pandemic has accelerated this gap, with minority-owned business closures approximately 3x higher than those majority-owned. We are taking a holistic approach to amplify voices from our communities and develop new solutions to these longstanding inequities.,” said Dr. Bryan Heckman, Founding Director of Meharry’s Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health. “ResilienSEED aims to disrupt the detrimental cycle of economic disparity by providing new opportunities for minority entrepreneurship, business ownership, and wealth-building while increasing workforce diversity and SDOH-based solutions.”


Microsoft’s AI for Health is a five-year philanthropic program developed in collaboration with leading health experts driving important medical initiatives. The program was created to empower nonprofits, researchers, and organizations like Meharry that are tackling some of the more significant challenges in global health.


“The pandemic has laid bare the need for innovation in the field of health, especially for underserved and vulnerable populations,” said Geralyn Miller, Senior Director, Health Strategy, Microsoft AI for Good Research Lab. “Meharry Medical College’s approach with the ResilienSEED incubator embraces diversity as a unifying force in pandemic response. We’re honored to support such an important effort with cloud computing through the AI for Health program.”


To learn more about the Center’s research, initiatives, and response to COVID-19, please visit:


About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church-related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services, and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit to learn more.


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