MATTER and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago launch program to accelerate Chicagoland businesses addressing health equity

Partners seek sponsorship from local businesses to develop innovations that eliminate the social, economic and cultural barriers to health in Chicago

MATTER, the global healthcare innovation hub headquartered in Chicago, and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, a social enterprise committed to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, have launched the Health Equity Innovation accelerator program to support entrepreneurs with solutions that advance health equity.

The eight-week, cohort-based accelerator is a joint program of the YWCA Breedlove Entrepreneurship Center and the MATTER Advancing Health Equity initiative. Accelerator participants will receive access to mentorship, exclusive resources and interactive curriculum from subject matter experts, and will graduate with a validated business concept and a clear roadmap to bring their solution to market.

Areas of interest include solutions that help reduce health disparities through:

  • Addressing the impact of social determinants of health (SDoH) on health outcomes
  • Promoting health education
  • Increasing access to healthcare and social services
  • Providing mental and behavioral health services
  • Promoting healthy youth development
  • Preventing chronic diseases
  • Utilizing data and research to promote equity in healthcare

“Our communities are plagued with lack of access to healthcare resources, food, safe housing and even adequate transportation,” said Kelly Evans, VP Entrepreneurship and Community Economic Development at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. “We are always looking to support the advancement of solutions that can assure that our neighbors are receiving the information that they need to live healthy lives and that their geography does not continue to be the biggest barrier to healthy living. MATTER is bringing their vast knowledge base, resources and professional network to this partnership so that we can together spark the next big idea — or ideas — on how to address the health disparities that exist in underrepresented communities.”

“There aren’t enough innovative solutions coming from, or being designed for, the Chicago-area communities that face the greatest health challenges,” said Steven Collens, CEO of MATTER. “MATTER helps transform ideas into solutions that improve the healthcare experience. We are thrilled to partner with YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, which has a historic presence in Chicago communities and an intimate understanding of what is needed to advance racial justice, equity and inclusion in our city, to support innovations that will close the health and healthcare gaps at the neighborhood level.”

MATTER and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago are also issuing a call for sponsorship from businesses interested in supporting the development of these solutions. For more information on sponsorship and other opportunities to get involved, fill out this form.

Entrepreneurs interested in applying must have a presence in the Chicagoland area and be developing a solution to serve the residents and address health disparities in their community. The first cohort of the hybrid virtual and in-person accelerator will begin on Monday, September 13, 2021. Learn more and apply to participate in the first cohort here. Applications are due by 11:59pm CST on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.


MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, includes more than 200 cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together, the MATTER community is accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit and follow @MATTERhealth.

About Advancing Health Equity

MATTER’s Advancing Health Equity initiative aims to unravel the various forms of inequities affecting our healthcare system today and understand the role innovation and technology can play in shaping a more equitable future. The initiative examines health equity through two lenses: resilient communities and inclusive technology.

About YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Founded in 1876, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is a social enterprise committed to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. As a leading association among a national network of more than 200 YWCAs, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago impacts tens of thousands of women and families annually through comprehensive human services provided across the region. YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is a leader in the areas of sexual violence support, early childhood and child care provider services, family support, youth STEM programming and economic empowerment. A commitment to racial justice, equity and inclusion is foundational to all YWCA programs and services. Located in the third-largest American city, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago serves as a national incubator for innovative programming, outreach and engagement strategies. YWCA Metropolitan Chicago works at both the individual and systems levels to create the truly inclusive marketplace necessary for a diverse and balanced economy. The organization is an active member of many national, state, county and city-level coalitions, advocating for policies that combat racism and positively affect women and families. Learn more at and follow @ywcachicago on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

About BreedLove Entrepreneurship Center

The YWCA Breedlove Entrepreneurship Center is an initiative of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago in collaboration with DePaul University’s Women in Entrepreneurship Institute (WEI). The effort is strengthened through our partnership with WEI who brings with them 40 successful women entrepreneurs who are committed to ensuring that other women of color business owners realize success and prosperity. This initiative is focused on supporting Black women entrepreneurs with revenues of $500,000+ that are undercapitalized. We believe that with adequate funding and support they can have a catalytic impact on the communities they serve.