As a part of its commitment to supporting Virginia’s small business community, UnitedHealthcare awarded a $10,000 Community Care Award in the Hampton Roads region to Violence Intervention & Prevention (V.I.P.), a Newport News-based small business that presented a big idea for enhancing community health and wellness.
The prize-winning idea was presented at a competition hosted by UnitedHealthcare.
V.I.P. provides counseling and mentorship services to youth suffering from or at-risk of experiencing violence. The company will use the award to develop a six-week “Nutrition Oasis” program designed to educate Hampton Roads youth on how healthy eating can impact their overall wellness.
“The impact of this award will be huge for the communities we serve,” said Cameron Bertrand, CEO of V.I.P. “By showing students how to prepare and maintain a healthy diet, we can assist in shifting their focus from hunger onto positive things like academics and athletics. I’m hoping this will be the start of something that can be replicated in other cities around the country.”
Dozens of applications for this year's competition were submitted during a call for entries period, which was eventually narrowed down to five finalists. The finalists were invited to an event to pitch their project ideas at Old Dominion University’s Strome Entrepreneurial Center in Norfolk on Feb. 26.
"All five small business finalists demonstrated their passion for improving health and wellness in Virginia and addressed important issues that impact the Hampton Roads region," said Joe Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic. "We are committed to working with our small business partners in Virginia and nationwide to improve the health and wellness of the communities where we live and work.”
Judges, including local health care experts and business leaders, evaluated the project submissions and selected finalists based on criteria, such as community impact, creativity and feasibility.
Along with Violence Intervention & Prevention, the finalists included:
- ARDX Foundation
- NewMan Fitness
- Tidewater Arts Outreach
- YMCA on Granby
UnitedHealthcare collaborated with the Old Dominion University (ODU) Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, a leader in the region’s business and entrepreneurial community, to identify the winning project.
“ODU is proud to partner with UnitedHealthcare on this year’s Community Care Award,” said Nancy Grden, interim associate vice president of the ODU Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “The dozens of local businesses and organizations that submitted ideas demonstrate their vibrancy, innovation, and impact on our Hampton Roads community.”
The United States is home to nearly 30 million small businesses — with 22 percent concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic. In states like Virginia, small businesses employ about 50 percent of the private workforce.
Small businesses, companies with two to 100 employees, make a big difference as they generate economic growth, provide valuable jobs and serve as an important voice in their communities.
UnitedHealthcare works with many small businesses across the country and has a unique understanding of their potential to contribute to better community health.
The Community Care Award program has been launched in other cities across the country, including Richmond, Virginia and Charleston, West Virginia. This is the first year the program was offered in Hampton Roads.