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Village Heart BEAT Named to HealthyCommunity50

Healthy Community 50 LogoMecklenburg County Public Health’s Village Heart B.E.A.T. (Building Education and Accountability Together) program has been selected as one of 50 members of the HealthyCommunity50 in the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to receive a $10,000 community seed award. By participating in the Challenge, the County is in the running to receive a prize that will support this local program.

The Challenge, a partnership between the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties, launched in April during National Public Health Week. The Challenge will award $1.5 million in prizes to small and mid-sized cities, counties and federally-recognized tribes that are able to show measurable change over the course of several years working with cross-sector partnerships to implement health innovations and data-driven solutions. Hundreds of city governments, local municipalities, health departments, educational institutions and other public/private entities applied.

The HealthyCommunity50 were chosen based on plans to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: Healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.
Through the Challenge, the collaborative Village Heart B.E.A.T (VHB) program will work to reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease through African American and Hispanic/Latino faith-based organizations in Charlotte. The Challenge comes at a critical time for the VHB program, when investing in faith-based organizations as mutual business partners will help the program move toward its goal of adopting effective, sustainable policies, systems and environmental change strategies to encourage healthier lifestyle choices.   

“We are honored to receive this recognition and to be part of the HealthyCommunity50,” said Cheryl Emanuel, Senior Health Manager, Mecklenburg County Public Health Community Engagement. “Village Heart B.E.A.T wouldn’t be successful without the intentional partnership between local government public health and faith-based organizations and their commitment to being leaders in improving our community’s health. Working together, we can save lives and build stronger, healthier communities.”

“At the Aetna Foundation, we’re seeking to reward innovation for communities implementing new ways to improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “We want the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge to serve as a catalyst for collaboration in local communities around the country working to move the needle in combating health disparities.”

All selected HealthyCommunity50 members will be visited by an expert judge panel to answer questions, understand the community’s approach to the project first-hand and speak with the members of the cross-sector team and key stakeholders. At the conclusion of the Challenge, the programs able to show the most measurable change will be eligible for prize awards from $25,000 - $500,000. Participants will be judged on their own progress and will not be competing against each other. For more information, visit